Covid secure format – know before you go

Dear visitor,

We hope you have been keeping safe during these unprecedented times.

In light of the ongoing situation, our highest priority is to maintain a safe and secure environment for all staff and delegates. Therefore, we have introduced a new set of processes, as detailed below, which will help create a Covid secure and enjoyable experience for all.

These measures are under constant review and we will update these where necessary to align with
government guidelines.

  1. The Soils in Practice 2020 conference is set up to allow for 1m distancing when seated as well as one-way entry and exit systems to limit unnecessary contact. Those within the same household and have travelled together are permitted to sit together. We kindly ask delegates to follow the one-way systems in place.
  2. Upon arrival, we ask for you to park 1 metre away from other cars as directed by our marshals. We ask that you remain in your cars so we may conduct no contact temperature checks and ticket checks. This is to avoid queues inside the venue.
  3. Paper, pens and water will be laid out on tables prior to your arrival to avoid unnecessary cross contamination with other delegates.
  4. Alcohol hand gel, antibacterial wipes are available on site and the team will be doing enhanced cleaning of all communal areas.
  5. Food and drink will still be available at this event. We will ask you to fill out your requirements on a menu card and refreshments will be brought to your table by staff.
  6. Unless exempt, you will be required to wear your face mask for the full duration of the event.
  7. Toilets will be stocked with hand wash, single use hand towels, hand sanitsier and antibac. These will be routinely checked and serviced by staff to ensure high cleaning standards.
  8. As a precautionary measure, delegates are advised not to smoke on the venue grounds and to avoid inhaling tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapor emitted from other persons whilst at the event/entering the event. There will be a smoking area at the far end of the entrance.

What we ask from you:

  • If you are feeling unwell, have been advised by a medical professional to quarantine or deem to be in the ‘at risk’ category, we kindly ask you to refrain from attending this event.
  • Please ensure you bring a face covering and hand sanitsier to the event.
  • To allow for social distancing within the event, we have had to reduce the number of tickets available. Please do not come to the event if you do not have a confirmed ticket as we will have to turn you away.
  • Please abide by the rules and regulations as stated above to ensure a safe and enjoyable conference.

If you would like to discuss any of the elements outlined on this page or require further information, please contact our Operations Manager, Ruth Davis.

The venue

We are pleased to confirm that this years Soils in Practice event will take place at:

Pitt Hall Farm,
Basingstoke,
Hampshire

Farming

The land is split into eight cropping blocks, four in herbal leys and four in crops. A recent conversion into organic has meant higher levels of cultivation which goes against the grain for managing director of Kingsclere Estates, Tim May, who is based at Pitt Hall Farm.

Tim, who is also a Nuffield Scholar, is now investigating ways to implement reduced tillage in organic systems. Alongside understanding how to offset damage done through cultivations using cover crops and other soil conditioners to accompany the cultivation event.

GPS yield maps and soil type maps are used throughout the farm and these guide decisions over infield management, including where to place intensive animal activity, additional compost and different fodder crops along with traditional inputs like lime and magnesium.

History

Being a family-run business and with future generations in mind, Kingsclere Estates Ltd operates a long-term view and therefore sustainability is one of the key objectives, through the adoption of a holistic approach.

By 2012, after 10 years of farming effectively an all arable farming business since the closure of their dairy, it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, let alone improve yields year-on-year and this was in spite of growing expenditure on increasingly sophisticated inputs and technology.

It was clear that the soil, the foundation of any farming system, was becoming lifeless and generally lacking in organic matter and a new approach was required in order to get the soil back to maximising its potential and the land to remain profitable.

One of the options was returning to a more diverse mixed-farming system with its many synergies and symbiotic relationships. With this in mind, just under half the farm was taken out of arable production and put into four-year mixed herbal and red clover leys in order to, among other things, increase organic matter levels, fix nutrients and aerate the soil.

To aid with this soil improvement and to maintain an economic output from these lays, a 1000 strong flock of breeding ewes were bought and a 380 head herd of Dairy cattle drafted in; the farm has gone full circle.

Pasture-fed lamb and dairy

Due to the extensive nature of these new livestock enterprises and through the use of winter cover crops on the arable land, the sheep and cattle overwinter on pasture and are totally pasture fed. All the livestock are rotationally grazed with the once a day dairy being completely mobile allowing the benefits of all the livestock to be realised across the whole farm.

The benefits of the pasture- over grain-fed system to both the taste and health value of the meat have been widely extolled in recent years and are championed by the Pasture Fed Livestock Association.

Enterprise stacking

Tim’s Nuffield Scholarship travels highlighted the opportunities of enterprise stacking and its associated mutual economic, environmental and community benefits.

Through rotational grazing, pastures can support both sheep and cattle in the same year and indeed benefit from the differences in grazing styles at different growth stages. However Tim is also open to working with other local rural enterprises with perhaps different types of livestock who may be looking to increase their grazing area.

Farm facts

  • 1012 hectares
  • Mixed farm
  • Soil: chalky loam
  • Rainfall: 750mm
  • Altitude: 700 feet
  • Approach: Conservation agriculture
  • Tenure: Assured tenancy
  • Habitat creation
  • Rotational grazing
  • Pasture-fed livestock
  • Soil monitoring
  • Minimum tillage
  • Mixed farming
  • Diverse leys
  • Direct drilling
  • Herbal leys