On January 25th we hosted an event looking at Cover Crops, Herbal Leys and Integrating Livestock. Over 50 guests came including two from north Wales and another from Sussex.

The first speaker was Anne Bhogal, Principal Research Scientist at ADAS. Anne’s work focuses on cover crops and their management, for multiple benefits. She showed the research behind the importance of establishing early to get the most benefit, and to leave a good window between destruction and spring crop establishment.  Although their impact on the following crop yield can be variable, they need to be considered as a long-term investment in soil health, and environmental protection.



Ian Boyd then spoke about his journey into regenerative farming, starting with a commercial arable farm with some permanent pasture and now being custodian of an organic holding with a pedigree herd of Herefords, grazing species rich grassland and herbal leys. These changes have led to noticeable increases in biodiversity which Ian is keen to photograph. Ian spoke of the important of having an open mind, learning from mistakes, and graciously accepting awards when they are presented to you!

Finally, James Windridge spoke of the practical implications of integrating livestock into arable systems and gave some practical tips on how to reduce costs of cover crops (growing their own seed, making their own mixes, etc). James and Toby (James’ boss) practice Conservation Agriculture which aims to ensure that: there is always a living plant in the ground or decent crop residues, that there is minimal soil disturbance and that there is a decent rotation. 

After a lunch we headed outside to the field and although there wasn’t a lot to see in the ground, we heard from CSF and Thames Water on the funding they have available and had wider discussions on the system that James and Toby are implementing, and the benefits and pitfalls of such a system.