The rationale of the Groundswell Show is to help farmers to take back control of their farms and businesses and find a way of growing healthy crops using the least amount of inputs possible. It's a show put on by farmers, for farmers. We invite a lot of ancillary businesses along to share their ideas, but the show is all about the soil.
There's no formula to what we're all trying to do. There's no right way and no wrong way. No-till at it's simplest is a form of establishing a crop with the minimal disturbance of the soil. Those that want to move on from sporadically missing cultivations every now and then, to a form of continuous no-till, will find that they have to change more than their drill.
The three basic tenets of conservation agriculture are: minimal soil disturbance, continuous ground cover and use of rotations. These provide the framework that guide most of us but we've probably only scratched the surface (if you'll excuse the pun) of methods of farming that regenerate the soil or to put it another way: to make the ground well.
The idea of Groundswell is to acknowledge the wellspring of ideas and enthusiasm that is bubbling up all around the country, indeed all around the world, and to bring it to one place for a bit of a celebration and demonstration. It can be a lonely business farming, especially if you are diving off in a different direction to the mainstream, so part of the Groundswell's agenda is to bring the various practitioners and interested parties together to share ideas and experiences, to discuss what worked and what didn't and to get ideas for new ways of farming.
The host farm has been in continuous no-till for six harvests and as we move on we find we have more questions than answers. But it has been the most enjoyable and profitable time in our thirty years of farming, as well as the most interesting. We hope you'll want to come and join the Groundswell...
John Cherry, Weston Park Farms