Groundswell The Film

Groundswell The Film is now available to watch on Vimeo. It is an hour long documentary directed by Fiona Cunningham-Reid and features the Groundswell host farm alongside some interesting characters telling the story of no-till and the farmers who are taking back control of their farms.  

Watch the trailer below. For the full film click here: "GROUNDSWELL THE FILM"

If you would like to comment or stay in touch about the film, please use the dedicated Facebook page here.

Groundswell January Newsletter

Groundswell Aerial Photo

I'm never quite sure when we stop saying Happy New Year to each other, but the wheels haven't completely fallen off this year yet so: Happy New Year to you all.

January is a quiet enough month for most farmers and it's the same here. We've still got a mob of 100 dry cows out at grass, which is the latest we've ever managed. I like to think it is brilliant planning and a side-effect of our mob-grazing regime that we've managed to stockpile a wedge of grazing in front of them. They do look happy, but we'll soon be bringing them in, otherwise we will compromise the fields we've set aside for early spring grazing. The ground is wet here now, but moving the mob daily and back-fencing, so they don't roam about too much, has resulted in minimal soil damage. And a great saving in the amount of straw and silage that we'd have used...

This is the kind of thinking that Groundswell fosters, we're producing healthy animals more cheaply. Really, what's not to like? We will be discussing the arable version of this at the Conference, with benchmarking figures from no-till farms which we hope will show just how much farmers can shave off their 'fixed' costs. When so many farmers are struggling to make any money, it is nice to see how you can show a profit at the same time as improving your land.

We nipped across to Oxford at the beginning of the month, to see what was going on at the Oxford Real Farming Conference. First up there was Michael Gove talking about no-till, the soil, natural capital and stewardship. He even suggested that Defra should be linked to the NHS, as healthy food is the best medicine. It is so refreshing to have a bright politician in that position. Here's hoping he still has the job come June and we aim to nurture political thinking at Groundswell 2018. We gather too, that Defra is recruiting the cleverest and most ambitious civil servants at the moment, as they all want to be part of restructuring a broken system (agricultural policy) that has effectively been off the menu since 1946.

We are busy coordinating plans and you should already have 27th and 28th June in the diary for Groundswell 2018 (tickets will go on sale 11th March). We welcome your thoughts on how to make the ground well and we are inspired by the groundswell of innovative farmers, sharing ideas and techniques to make this happen.

John Cherry, Host Farmer

Kellogg’s Origins Farmers will share on-farm trial results at Groundswell

Soil specialists from Kellogg’s Origins programme will speak at Groundswell on June 29th to advise farmers on how to boost crop productivity.

Kellogg’s Origins farmer Phil Jarvis and NIAB soil expert, Nathan Morris, will be speaking at the event, sharing their experiences and the results of the Origins-funded cover crop trial. This is one of the UK’s largest on–farm cover crop trials looking at improving soil management, with the ultimate aim of enhancing the quality of grain.

Nathan Morris will share his insight into how farmers can use cover crops to develop their farming systems and improve their soil structure and stability, whilst maintaining crop productivity. The NIAB soil specialist will explain how the farmer-led research looked at a range of cover crop techniques and focussed on best practice for soil management on a range of sites and scenarios.

Also speaking at the conference on June 29th is farm ecosystems expert Phil Jarvis. Manager at the Allerton Project, Loddington Estate, Phil will share a wealth of his practical research-based experience in making soil more resilient and sustainable. He will discuss practises from Loddington, a 333 hectare farm growing winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, winter and spring oats and winter and spring beans, including wheat for Kellogg’s. These practices include widening rotations, introducing cover crops and making the transition towards direct drilling.

Speaking ahead of Groundswell, Phil Jarvis, said: “I am really looking forward to speaking at the event on behalf of the Kellogg’s Origins Programme, it is important farmers and big businesses work together to help those in the industry adopt productive, sustainable ways of working.

“Sustainability is really important. All in all, some 10 per cent of the land I work at Loddington is out of production and is for environmental enhancement to achieve benefits to water, pollinators, plants and other wildlife. Landscape management is about a balance and a partnership. All sides have to recognise the importance of the need to deliver economic and environmental benefits.”

A spokesperson from Kellogg’s Origins, Haaye Boonstra, said:  “At Kellogg’s we’re very proud of our Origins programme. It brings us closer to farmers and the grains they produce, much of which goes into our food. Our purpose as a company is to nourish families so they can flourish and thrive and we believe that all starts with healthy soil and what grows in that soil.”

Phil Jarvis and Nathan Morris will be presenting ‘On-Farm Cover Crop Trials – Making Sustainability Work in Practice’ on Thursday 29th June at 3pm in the Seminar Barn.

Is Conservation Agriculture Viable For Your Farm?

procam groundswell sign


ProCam and Groundswell are piloting a benchmarking project to establish
the true financial performance of Conservation Agriculture systems. This
will enable discussion and knowledge transfer between farmers adopting
these systems. This data will also be compared to conventional systems
to compare viability in the long term.

• Unique group focused on Conservation Agriculture
• Whole-farm benchmarking from reconciled accounts looking at the farm
and rotational margin on Conservation Agriculture farms
• Financial data alongside physical performance
• Comparison of anonymous farm data with other practitioners and
conventional systems
• Part of wider knowledge transfer through on-farm discussion groups
focused on Conservation Agriculture
• Cost allocation on agreed basis across the group applied to each farm,
including cover crops
• All information remains confidential with data sets anonymised

 Figures will be produced from financial accounts and on farm accounts and crop recording software. Independently prepared by partnering Agricultural Consultants, management accounts will enable fully reconciled data samples to be used in discussion groups by participating farmers. The data will be updated periodically through to completed crops sales to report the true farming return.  

Figures will be produced from financial accounts and on farm accounts and
crop recording software. Independently prepared by partnering Agricultural
Consultants, management accounts will enable fully reconciled data samples
to be used in discussion groups by participating farmers. The data will be
updated periodically through to completed crops sales to report the true
farming return.

If you would like more information on this project or to join the group please contact Richard Harding from Procam:

E: T: 07584 020395

Visit the Kings Cover Crops stand at Groundswell for Specialist Cover Crop Advice

A message from Richard Barnes of Kings Cover Crops - Groundswell's Cover Crop Partner.

The event is almost here and the Kings team is working hard on final preparations to ensure an informative and valuable day for visitors. As the official cover crop partner for Groundswell, we’ve provided crops for the 25ha working demonstration area and 14 individual crop plots to demonstrate the impressive benefits of green cover crops on the no-till day on 29th June. Now in its second year, we’re excited to be involved with this innovative event and can’t wait to meet growers next week.

With less than a week to go, crops are looking good, though it was a bit touch and go earlier in the year as, like many crops across the country, they were in desperate need of moisture! They have now come on brilliantly and the field scale crops will provide the perfect drilling area for machinery demonstrations, while growers have plenty to explore with the Kings advisors in the trial plot area. Given the prolonged dry spell just after drilling, we’ve been very impressed with how resilient plants can be and their recovery rate given rain, and also at how effective the various drills have been at creating a seedbed without disturbing the soil surface.

 Green cover crops during their development at the Groundswell site

Green cover crops during their development at the Groundswell site

Individual plots include straight oil radish, Tillage radish, turnip rape, buckwheat and phacelia as well as a number of mixes, including Kings’ popular Soil Structure Mix and Vitality Mix. In the demonstration area, machinery will drill into oil radish, an oil radish and oat mix and Kings Soil Vitality Mix.

Interest in the use of green cover crops to support no-till agriculture continues to develop at a great pace across the UK. It’s easy to see why, as the benefits can be considerable when grown in the right circumstances:

·       Improved soil structure, drainage and soil organic matter levels

·       Reduced leaching of valuable nutrients from bare soils

·       Fulfilment of EFA and stewardship scheme requirements

·       Reduction of soil pests, diseases and weeds

·       Yield improvements

·       Grazing opportunities.

Expert advice on variety selection, establishment and management is essential to make sure the chosen crop is suitable to achieve the intended results. Drawing on vast experience and evidence from our extensive on farm testing and evaluation of green cover crops,

 Talk to Kings' expert team about how green cover could benefit your business

Talk to Kings' expert team about how green cover could benefit your business

Kings’ technical team will be on hand at the event to answer all your queries and discuss how to integrate green cover into your rotation. Visit us at Stand E11 on 28th June, and the demo plot area in the demonstration field on 29th June.

For further details please visit, email or call 0800 587 9797.

A Glyphosate-free future? Considering alternatives at Groundswell 2017

In the face of increasing resistance to glyphosate, both from consumers and the plants themselves, it seems salient for no-till farmers to consider alternatives. This year we feature a panel discussion devoted to the possibility of a glyphosate free future, hosted by Innovative Farmers: 

“Alternatives to glyphosate for terminating cover crops".

Following concerns about the possible withdrawal of glyphosate and increasing herbicide resistance inarable farming, a group of farmers in East Anglia came together to look at alternatives. The group have now set up a practical ‘field lab’, focused on the best ways to destroy cover crops, while still enabling successful establishment of a cash crop afterwards. In this session the panel will discuss their motivations, the techniques they’ll be trialling and some of their early findings.

The Panel includes:

Liz Bowles

Liz Bowles

Liz is Head of Farming at the Soil Association and is a co-ordinator for several Innovative Farmers field labs. Liz has worked in the sector for over 20 years and has a practical approach combined with scientific and sector knowledge. She is a Nuffield scholar. Her research explored co-operation in the red meat sector and was a precursor to her joining EFFP where she worked on developing supply chain collaboration in England in all UK agricultural sectors.

 Jerry Alford

jerry alford.jpeg

Jerry farms in Devon with a mix of dairy, beef, sheep and combinable crops. He has been farming organically for the past ten years and has now taken up a crops advisory post and will also be working on co-ordinating field labs.



 James Alexander

James Alexander Primewest

James runs PrimeWest Ltd, agricultural contractors and no-tillage specialists, along with his father and is based in Oxfordshire. The business contract farms 400 hectares including an organic and conventional mix and contract drills around 1000 hectares per year with a cross slot drill. In 2012, the company undertook the design and building of the first cross slot drill frame. There are no more than 20 such machines in the UK and Europe. Prime West also produces crimper rollers to work along the seed drills.

The Panel Discussion takes place at 12.20 on No-Till Day, Seminar Barn - 29th June 2017.

If you haven't yet got your ticket for the Groundswell Show, make sure you get one here before they run out! 

Still looking for a reason to come to Groundswell 2017? Here are 14!

14 reasons to join us at the only show created ‘By Farmers, For Farmers” at Lannock Farm, Herts on 27th & 28th June 2017

1. An Independent Event

As host farmer John Cherry wrote here in his article for Indie Farmer, the current High Input/Output system benefits everybody… except the farmer! Myriad hangers-on in the industry get a slice of the pie in the existing system. The Groundswell Show places the focus back on the farmer. We invite a lot of ancillary businesses along, but their common theme is helping farmers achieve more with less input. We are not sponsored by anyone with a vested interest in selling you the latest giant piece of kit. In fact, our headline sponsor this year is Affinity Water, and if anyone has an interest in helping farmers reduce their inputs, it’s a water company...

So, you can come along to Groundswell and know that the information you’re receiving has your bottom line and your soil’s best interests at heart.

2)  Dr. Christine Jones

Dr Christine Jones

A world renowned soils ecologist, Christine is coming all the way from Australia to speak at The Groundswell Show.  Over several decades, Christine has worked with innovative farmers and graziers implementing regenerative land management practices that enhance biodiversity, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, productivity, water quality and community and catchment health.

We are looking forward to her talks on both days: ‘Grazing Management and the Humification of Soils’ (Grass-Fed Day, 11am) and ‘The Liquid Carbon Pathway’ (No-Till Day, 1pm).

3) A demonstration field dedicated to No-Till drills…

If you’re in the market for a direct drill then The Groundswell Show is absolutely the place to be. You can compare and contrast each drill’s merits and chat to the manufacturers’ all in one place. We have the following companies lined up to showcase their kit: Horsch, Sly, Agri-Linc, Ryetec, Dale Drills, Weaving, Cross-Slot (Primewest), John Deere (P Tuckwell Group) and Simtech Aitchison.  

Roadshott Field Direct Drill Demonstrations 2017

4) ...Tested side by side, on a mix of cover crop varieties

King’s, our cover crop partner, have ensured the drill demonstration field is set up with a challenging mix of cover crops for each drill to navigate during it’s test drive. There are three cover crop mixes to really test the drills. The cover crops are coming along well and are set to grow some more in the coming 2 weeks if this weather holds.

  Panorama of the Roadshott field taken on 13th June 2017

Panorama of the Roadshott field taken on 13th June 2017

5) A whole day focused on reintroducing livestock in the arable rotation; a key principle in no-till.

According to the inspirational Jay Fuhrer, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, North Dakota, the three conventional principles of No-Till are: minimal disturbance of the soil, continuous cover, and diversity of rotations. He recently added two more principles: Keeping continuous living roots in the soil, and integrating livestock into your system.  This year’s Grass-Fed day on the 28th June focuses exactly on this important aspect of no-till that more and more farmers are embracing. 

Groundswell Cows in Meadow

6)  A Specialist No-Till Bookshop

Snap up David Montgomery’s new book ‘Growing a Revolution’ (and you might even get him to sign it, as he will also be speaking on both days of the show) along with many other conservation agriculture must-reads, at the David’s Bookshop stand at Groundswell, in the Black Barn.

Growing a revolution

7) New for 2017 - The Soil Tent

This new tent will be packed with experts giving seminars and showcasing experiments on soil health on Thursday. Scientists will showcase their ongoing research: Dr Jackie Stroud of Rothamsted Research will be conducting live soil tests on samples brought by delegates, and Cranfield University scholars will be showing results of their soil studies. Build your knowledge of the soil from Mike Harrington’s seminar “Understanding cover crop systems” , Jamie Stotska’s on “Understanding Mycorrhizal Funghi.” and Graeme Sait from Australia presents “Nutrition Farming Explained”.

8) Rainfall Simulator from the USA

Not convinced by the theory that less disturbance aids soil structure? The rainfall simulator shows explicitly the powerful differences of the impact of 2” of rainfall upon differently tilled soils. Bud Davis and Keith Thompson from Kansas, USA bring this impressive piece of kit and their careers' worth of knowledge to Groundswell for the second time. Do not miss this!  

9) Graeme Sait

Graeme Sait Nutrition Farming Groundswell 2017

Another visitor from Australia, Graeme is the pioneer of the ‘Nutrition Farming Approach’ and founder of Nutri Tech Solutions. He is author of the popular book ‘Nutrition Rules’. His talks are deeply inspiring to see and we look forward to his series of seminars and lectures across both days of Groundswell. He will cover: “Improving Nitrogen Management” (Grass-Fed Day 9.30am) "Nutrition Farming Explained" (No-Till Day 8.45am) "Nutrition Farming Essentials" (No-Till Day 10.00am)  "The Marvels of Organic Matter" (No-Till Day 4.00pm) 

10) Rick Bieber and Keith Thompson

No-Till legends straight from the prairies of Kansas and North Dakota, with 50 years of no-till farming experience between them they are a wealth of knowledge on all things no-till, cover crops and diverse crop rotations. They also happen to be a lot of fun.

11) 25 specialist exhibitors with an agri-environment focus

A diverse array of exhibitors will be on hand to provide you with advice and knowledge from all corners of the farming spectrum. Not to mention a delicious array of food options to keep you fuelled throughout the day: from Grass-Fed burgers, to hummus flavoured with UK grown ‘wonky veg’, you’ll find something for every taste.

Exhibitors at 2016 show


12) A Soil Pit showing impact of a 2 year ley upon root growth

See our soil from the bottom up and the development of root networks within a 2 year ley.

13) Meet other conservation minded farmers who take their farm’s health and future seriously.

Or, as Brian Sims said of last year’s show “The No-till Show provided a platform for an impressive and informative array of enthusiasts to discuss and demonstrate the essential interactions and synergies that make Conservation Agriculture a powerful tool.” This year's show with it's 2 day format offers even more opportunity to mingle with delegates from far and wide to share experiences and hopefully have some fun. 

14) Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what last year’s attendees had to say:

Quotes from 2016 Groundswell attendees

Not got your ticket yet? Better move fast, as tickets are strictly limited. You can buy yours here


Newsflash: Bring your soil samples to Groundswell 2017


Dr. Jackie Stroud of Rothamsted Research has a request for this year's Groundswell Attendees:  As part of her ongoing cutting-edge research into the differences between tilled and un-tilled soils, Jackie is asking Groundswell Attendees to bring their soil samples along for testing on the day.

If you'd like to be part of an exciting nationwide survey of soil surface aggregate stability, then read on:

Rothamsted Research National Aggregate stability survey:

Arable soils are inherently less stable than grasslands or hedge lines and the surface layer of arable soils is disproportionally affected by management practices, particularly tillage intensity and organic matter inputs.  Stable aggregates are resistant to disruptive forces (e.g. raindrops), which impacts percolation and runoff (and soil erodibility), crustability (which may impact crop germination and emergence) and carbon storage – thus aggregate stability is an important indicator of sustainable agricultural practices.

Over the past 3-years we have been studying the science behind soil aggregation, and we’d like your help to build up a better picture of soil health around the country.


- Two samples per field needed.  Sample 1: collected from the field (= soil management) and sample 2: Field edge (= best case scenario e.g. grass, hedgerow etc.)

- Soil sample measures the top 5 cm (2 inches) only

- Using a trowel collect a scoop of the surface soil.  Limit disturbance of the soil as this damages the soil aggregates – ideally place the sample directly into a Tupperware box for protection and transport.

- Storage – soil samples are best kept in the fridge (4C).

- If you’re interested in a quick table-top demo of your soils on the day, then please air-dry a small portion of each chilled sample.    

Jackie has kindly offered to report back to farmers who submit their soil samples with results of the Rothamsted lab assessment. To do so, you can leave your email address with her on the day.

You can find Jackie's stand in the Black Barn by the Conference Barn on both days of Groundswell. 



What's on in the Pasture Field at Groundswell 2017

Over 2 days the Pasture Field will be a hive of activity, with organisations across the spectrum of future farming on hand to share their know-how, showcase their products and even give you a well-earned cuppa and a biscuit, if you're lucky.

The Pasture Field will host around 25 stands, with an additional barn with indoor stands, including the Groundswell Bookshop where you can find fascinating books, including those authored by speakers at the event.

Here's how the site will look at Groundswell 2017:

You can find these Exhibitors at the following locations:


In addition, in the Pasture Field on the 28th June (Grass-Fed Day) there will be demonstrations from a range of companies including: 

  Kiwi Tech  will demonstrate the latest technology in  specialist electric fencing . 

Kiwi Tech will demonstrate the latest technology in specialist electric fencing

  Wox Agri Services  will demonstrate the  Güttler Greenmaster Grassland Management System . 

Wox Agri Services will demonstrate the Güttler Greenmaster Grassland Management System

  JC Machinery  will demonstrate the  Vredo DZ Agri Air Overseeders .   

JC Machinery will demonstrate the Vredo DZ Agri Air Overseeders

  Simtech Aitchison  will demonstrate one of the simplest and most versatile drills on the market, the  T-Sem Grass .

Simtech Aitchison will demonstrate one of the simplest and most versatile drills on the market, the T-Sem Grass.

John Cherry will also be demonstrating a Mob-Stocking demonstration with the Weston Park Farms beef shorthorn herd.

You can find timings of the demonstrations on the Event Schedule, here

Sly Machinery will be demonstrating at Groundswell - Interview

Sly Machinery will be demonstrating at Groundswell - Interview

Sly Europe Ltd, based in Spalding, Lincs will be demonstrating their machinery at Groundswell for the first time. We caught up with George Sly to hear what we can expect to see at their demonstration stand at Groundswell 2017, and why they are not attending Cereals 2017.