Held at Lannock Farm, Weston, Hertfordshire, on 30 June 2016, the Groundswell No-till Show brought together several hundred farmers, agronomists, engineers, machinery manufacturers and importers for an extravaganza of information exchange with live demonstrations and seminars on no-till, cover cropping, mob grazing and practical conservation agriculture (CA) in its many guises.
CA is a relative novelty in the UK where we are lagging behind many other regions of the world with just 3.2% of our (approximately) 6 million hectares of arable land managed under the system. So it will be just as well to reiterate that the basic principles of CA comprise: minimal soil disturbance (in practice no-till is the goal); permanent soil cover (with crop residues and cover crops); and diversity in cropping (including rotations, associations and even agroforestry).
CA starts with the premise that soil is the most valuable asset of our agricultural sector and that insufficient attention has hitherto been paid to its well-being in terms of structure, fertility, biodiversity and health. Without healthy soils sustainable production increases are impossible to achieve. It is not a system that can be implemented solely through the acquisition of a no-till seed drill, it requires a holistic ecosystems approach that takes into consideration the complete crop (and animal) environment and its complex interactions with the landscape and beyond. 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 CA a powerful tool for increasing the food supply for the world’s burgeoning population. And at the same time ensuring that the vital natural resources of soil and water are conserved to continue to deliver essential ecosystem services for future generations. CA is relevant to farming systems throughout the world and holds great potential for farmers in the UK.
To read the full report by Brian Sims (www.engineering4development.co.uk) click on the image below: