See below for information about the speakers who were at Groundswell 2017.
Listed in no particular order:
Dr Christine Jones (Australia)
To the pressing worldwide challenge of restoring topsoil, soil ecologist Dr Christine Jones offers an accessible, inspiring perspective. 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. Following a highly respected career in public sector R&D, she founded 'Amazing Carbon' and organised a series of ‘Managing the Carbon Cycle’ forums to promote the benefits of soil carbon. Christine received a Community Fellowship Award from Land and Water Australia for ‘mobilising the community to better manage land, water and vegetation.’ In recent years she has gained international recognition as a speaker, presenting on ‘The Fundamentals of Soil’ at workshops, field days, seminars and conferences throughout Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Western Europe, Central America, USA and Canada.
Dr Jones will be explaining how farmers can increase their output at the same time as cutting down or even completely eliminating inorganic fertiliser use. Based on her findings whilst travelling the world visiting farmers who are regenerating their soils, she will show how we can use the natural free-living nitrogen fixing bacteria in soil to provide all the nitrogen that our pastures and crops require. However, to achieve this happy state, a few changes need to be made...
Her Grass-Fed Day talk is titled “Grazing Management and the Humification of the Soil” and takes place in the Conference Barn at 11.30.
On No-Till Day Christine will be talking us through the “Liquid Carbon Pathway” at 13.30 in the Conference Barn.
Graeme Sait (Australia)
Graeme is founder & CEO of Nutri-Tech Solutions. Over the last 21 years NTS has pioneered many popular approaches to soil and plant nutrition in Australia. It has trained tens of thousands of farmers and consultants across four continents.
Graeme will be talking about Improving Nitrogen Management For Soil, Stock and Planetary Health on Grass-Fed Day at 9.30am. The oversupply of nitrogen is producing a plethora of unintended consequences including massive nitrous oxide emissions and their warming impact (a gas 310 times more potent than CO2). Nitrogen mismanagement is the biggest contributor to the pollution of precious waterways (nitrates, algal blooms and the increased need for chemical intervention), loss of soil life and reduced crop resilience. N excesses create potassium and calcium deficiencies and they promote the loss of soil aggregates that determine oxygenation and water in ltration (creating more susceptibility to both oods and droughts). Discover invaluable tools to master nitrogen management including Grazing practices, increasing pasture diversity, foliar application of urea, optimisation of nitrogen xation with moly, cobalt and inoculums (mycorrhizal and others), humate stabilisation and phosphate release strategies (as opposed to DAP).
He will then be talking Mastering Microbes on the NGA stand at 10am - the potential of problem solving with inoculums and the benefits of nurturing and boosting your microbial workforce with soil foods and regenerative strategies.
On No-Till Day, Nutrition Farming will be explained in the Soil Tent from 8.45am, featuring the following:
1. An emphasis upon the root cause of problems rather than the treatment of symptoms.
2. An understanding of key mineral ratios that determine productivity and resilience.
3. A recognition that humus is the keystone of fertility and soil health, and a focus upon how to preserve and regenerate organic matter.
4. A revolutionary new strategy to look at leaf analysis and in- eld crop monitoring to allow precision nutrition throughout the crop cycle.
5. The utilisation of microbial inoculums and biological stimulants to replace and restore the all-important soil workforce
6. A full suite of high quality, biological problem solvers with many crop-specific options.
To discover the tools for success in regenerative agriculture, head to the NGA stand at 10am.
In the Seminar Barn at 16.00, he will be talking about the Marvels of Organic Matter. Discover the strategies to preserve and create humus in your soil. Understand that this is the essence of productive, sustainable agriculture. In fact, it is the chief determinant of profitability. Cocktail cover cropping, compost strategies, the use of humates and many other humus building strategies will be discussed.
Tom Chapman (UK)
Tom currently manages a herd of 135 native-breed suckler cows (Sussex and Hereford) under a mob-grazing regime in Hertfordshire. He introduced this system of grazing into his arable rotation in 2009 and completed a Nuffield Farming Scholarship on the subject in 2011.
His goals for the herd are to extend the grazing season to reduce the winter feeding period, as far as is possible on heavy clay. This allows him to minimise the use of purchased inputs including fertiliser and fossil fuel, and ultimately to produce 100% forage-fed beef.
Tom also wants to share his experience and knowledge with arable farmers, helping them to improve their soils through the use of mob-grazed cattle.
Tom will be opening the Conference Barn on Wednesday at 10.00am giving practical advice on mob grazing.
Joel Williams (UK)
Joel is founder of Biolife Ag, an independent crop and soil health consultancy. He has worked on conventional and organic farms in UK and Australia on improving farming practices, investigating biological farming principles and providing soil chemical and biological assessments to primary producers throughout Europe.
Joel Williams will be giving a two part talk about soil biology. Part 1 is at 16.00 on Wednesday, and Part 2 is on Thursday at 08.45, in the Seminar Barn. Part 1 will be focussing on soils, while part 2 will be concentrating more on plant health and nutrition.
Amir Kassam (UK)
Amir Kassam is the Moderator of the Global Platform for No-Till Conservation Agriculture Community of Practice (CA-CoP) hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. He is the Chairman of the International Conservation Agriculture Advisory Panel for Africa (ICAAP-Africa) of the African Conservation Tillage (ACT) Network. Amir is Visiting Professor in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading. He was awarded an OBE for services to tropical agriculture and to rural development.
Amir’s work is focused on globalizing the development of No-Till Conservation Agriculture systems for sustainable agriculture intensification and land management. During his career, Amir has worked with a number of national and international agricultural development and research institutions, including several CGIAR centers, UN agencies and NGOs. His former positions include: Deputy Director General of WARDA (the Africa Rice Centre); Interim Executive Secretary of the CGIAR Science Council; Chairman of: the Aga Khan Foundation (UK); Chairman of Focus Humanitarian Assistance Europe Foundation; and Chairman of Tropical Agriculture Association, UK.
Amir will be providing a worldwide perspective to no-till at 8.45am on Thursday in the Conference Barn.
Tim May (UK)
In 2012, Tim May’s Nuffield Scholarship findings led the 2,500-acre Kingsclere Estate he manages to re-think its arable cropping. “After 10 years of an ‘all arable’ farming business, it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain yields,” says Tim. “It was clear that the soil, the foundation of any farming system, was becoming lifeless and a new approach was required.” Farming alternatives with complementary synergies were investigated and the decision taken to move to a more diverse, mixed farming system. Just under half of the farm area was taken out of arable production and put into four-year mixed herbal and red clover leys. To further aid soil improvement and maintain the economic output from these leys, a 1,700-strong flock of breeding ewes and a 150-head beef herd were also introduced.
Tim will be in the Seminar Barn at 11am on Wednesday, talking about re-introducing animals back into the rotation.
Jamie Stotzka (UK)
Jamie has recently completed a BSc in Commercial Horticulture with a dissertation in the effects of fungicides on mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) populations. Joining PlantWorks from East Malling Research (EMR) in2014, Jamie now heads up R&D activities and has become well versed in the use, benefits and application of AMF and Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) into Agriculture and Horticulture, a growing knowledge that Jamie enjoys sharing with Growers and Farmers who have a particular interest in adopting more biologically active production systems and no-till cultivation methods.
Jamie will be explaining mycorrhizal fungi at 13.45 in the Soil Tent on Thursday.
Dr Jackie Stroud (UK)
Jackie is a soil scientist who has just been awarded a NERC Soil Security Fellowship with her project ‘Ploughing on regardless?’, focussed on earthworm management in agriculture. She has published over 30 scientific articles and worked with farmers in both the UK and Australia. She is establishing tillage experiments at Rothamsted Research (Harpenden) to understand the impacts and enhance the benefits of alternative cultivation methods in UK agroclimate conditions.
Jackie will be in the Soil Tent at 11.45 on Thursday, talking about her earthworm studies. with an exhibit of CT Scans of soil cores showing earthworm activity. Visit her stand to see middens under a microscope, and ask any earthworm questions. Farmers are invited to bring their soil samples to her as part of her Rothamsted study into soil stability in tilled vs no-tilled fields. Click here for full info
John and Paul Cherry (UK)
John and Paul are brothers and 5th generation farmers at the Groundswell host farm. The last six years they have been in continous no-till.
John will be moving the Weston Park Farms Shorthorn mob on Wednesday at 14.00 in the meadow. John will also be on the Agricology Hour panel on Thursday at 11.15 in the Seminar Barn.
Dr Jacqueline Hannam
Jack is a soil scientist and has been a research scientist at Cranfield University for over 10 years. Her passion is understanding how soils change at field and landscape scales and how we can use this to apply effective soil management strategies. She also uses environmental data and novel technologies to better understand soil systems to enhance soil health and sustainable soil management at the farm level. She is a council member of the British Society of Soil Science and is the chair of the South East England Regional Group and the Education Committee. She is also a committee member of the Soil System Sciences division of the European Geoscience Union, Europe’s largest gathering of geoscientists.
Jacqueline will be talking with her Cranfield University colleagues at 9.30 on Thursday, in the Soil Tent.
Alex is a researcher and Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) at Cranfield University. Her main area of research is soil erosion mitigation and the use of materials that can reduce phosphorus inputs to watercourses. She is on the council of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE), and is a regional representative and teacher for the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS).
Alex will be talking about a citizen science project which allows growers to undertake low cost scientific experiments within their own kitchen. The Freezing Point Depression (FPD) method allows growers to accurately establish the moisture release curve of their soil. is provides essential information regarding soil health, irrigation requirements, and compaction levels. This aids better soil management, reduced crop stress, and increased yields.
Alex will be talking with her Cranfield University colleagues at 9.30 on Thursday, in the Soil Tent.
Dr Felicity Crotty
Dr Felicity Crotty has been researching soil biology and soil health for the last ten years. Firstly, through her PhD where she was investigating the soil food web and subsequently as a post-doc in Canada and Aberystwyth. She joined the Allerton Project in 2015 and has been working on understanding how cover crops can improve soil health as part of Defra’s Sustainable Intensification research Platform (SIP), looking at “Soil Improving Cropping Systems”. Felicity has been investigating the effects of agricultural management on soil biology (earthworms, springtails, mites and nematodes), chemistry (N, P, K, and other nutrients) and physics (compaction and water in filtration). Through combining her expertise in all three fields, she is starting to disentangle the real impact different management systems have on the soil and future crop yields. However, Felicity’s main research passion is soil biology, trying to understand how the interactions between different organisms within the soil change dependent on agriculture.
Felicity is part of the Agricology Hour Panel at 11.15 on Thursday in the Seminar Barn.
David Montgomery and Anne Biklé (USA)
David R. Montgomery is a MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington. He is an internationally recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies. Author of three award-winning popular-science books, he has been featured in documentary films, network and cable news, and on TV and radio programs, including NOVA, PBS NewsHour, Fox and Friends, and All Things Considered. When not writing or doing geology, he plays guitar in the band Big Dirt.
Anne Biklé is a biologist whose wide-ranging interests have led her into watershed restoration, environmental planning, and public health. An engaging speaker on public health and the built and natural environments, she has also worked extensively with community groups and nonprofit organizations on environmental stewardship and urban livability projects. The Hidden Half of Nature is her first book. She spends her free time out in the garden with her hands on plants and dirt.
David and Anne will be speaking on Grass-Fed Day at 14:30 in the Conference Barn, enlightening us on new research about microbiomes and the fundamental relationships that reveal the parallel worlds of a plant’s roots and a person’s gut.
David will also be giving a talk on No-Till Day at 10:00 in the Conference Barn, talking about the journey through writing his book, Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to life.
Rick Bieber (USA)
Rick Bieber is a "Soil Care Taker" from the heart of the North American continent. He farms in a 425mm rainfall zone on 5000 acres of cropland and also has 5000 acres of native rangeland for a 500 head cow/calf operation. He has been in a continuous low disturbance no-till system for 30 years, using cover crops for the past 18 years. His main crops are Hard Red Spring Wheat, Corn, Sunflowers, Chickpeas, Buckwheat, Millet and Lucerne.
Rick is a strong advocate of diverse crop rotations and profitability for successful no-till systems approach to soil care. He has been a popular speaker at a number of no-till conferences throughout the Northern Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest of the United States over the last 20 years.He will share his learning experiences from the soils that have been in his family for the last 100 years. Including cost of productions and water and nutrient use efficiencies with the implementation of low disturbance no-till and multi-species cover crops. He will also summarise how no-till and cover crops have affected the soils of the world where Rick has travelled.
Don’t miss Rick speak at 13.00 on Wednesday in the Seminar Barn, and on Thursday at 16.00 in the Conference Barn. He will also be on the Agricology Hour panel at 11.15 on Thursday in the Seminar Barn.
Keith Thompson (USA)
Keith Thompson farms with his son, Ben and brother, Doug, near Osage City, Kansas, USA. Their farm has been in a continuous no-till system since 1991. The system has evolved to include growing more species of cash crops, plus adding cover crops and livestock to bene t the environment and society in the way it mimics Mother Nature. Crops produced on their farm include corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, wheat and sun flowers, plus cover crops and forage crops. The Thompsons believe in no-till’s environmentally friendly practices and the practice has improved profitability on their farm. Keith has recently starred in a lm and book called Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman that documents some of the inspiring regeneration that his family have done to their farm.
Keith will be speaking alongside Rick Bieber on the subject of integrating livestock into cropping lands, at 13.00 on Wednesday in the Seminar Barn.
On Thursday at 10.00 he will be giving a talk in the Soil Tent about how to move on to regenerative farming.
Andrew Howard (UK)
Andrew is a no-till farmer from Ashford, Kent. He is a Nuffield scholar and will talk about the potential for companion cropping and intercropping on UK arable farms.
His interest in regenerative agriculture was sparked by reading Graeme Sait’s book called “Nutrition Rules” and he has since been experimenting with methods of soil improvement and nutrient balance to help improve farm performance, with relative success.
Andrew will be giving a fascinating talk on providing options for intercropping and companion cropping on UK arable farms, at 13.30 in the Seminar Barn on Thursday.
Dr Sarah Beynon (UK)
Dr Sarah Beynon is the founder of Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, a research and education centre, working 100 acre farm, and visitor attraction. It is also home to Grub Kitchen – the UK’s first full-time edible insect restaurant.
Sarah, a Senior Research Associate of the University of Oxford Department of Zoology and Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, is an academic entomologist (insect expert) and agricultural ecologist, alongside being a farmer herself! Her interest in viable, sustainable food production working alongside wildlife conservation stems from a childhood growing up on a mixed beef, sheep and arable farm in St Davids.
Sarah’s research covers a broad spectrum of beneficial invertebrates in agricultural systems and is of applied relevance to farmers. A recent research highlight was putting an economic value on services delivered by dung beetles to UK cattle farmers, which her team valued at £367 million/ year! She is currently running a collaborative project to investigate the potential for arable field margins to assist with in-crop pest control.
You can catch Sarah at 16.30 on Wednesday, talking about dung beetles in grasslands; and at 11.15 on Thursday, speaking on the benefits of invertebrates in the arable system, in the Conference Barn.
George "Bud" Davis (USA)
George “Bud” Davis, retired Kansas State Conservation Agronomist for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has 40 years of experience in natural resource management systems. In 2008 he received the No-Till Farmer’s Research and Education Innovator’s Award and No-till on the Plains awarded him in 2016 for “Innovative Contributions to Education and Promotion of No-till Agriculture Systems Worldwide”.
Bud will be giving Rainfall Simulator demonstrations at 11.00 on Wednesday, and 11.20 on Thursday.
Mike Harrington (UK)
Mike has been advising farmers for over 30 years. He initially trained as a chemical specialist, however soon realised that the problems with chemical fertilisers and the increasing resistance to herbicides, fungicides and insecticides would not be solved with current methods. 11 years ago he founded the company Edaphos, an agronomy firm dedicated to improving soil and soil biology to harness its full potential and create a well- balanced system. His work has taken him to many countries including the US, China and Italy from which he has taken valuable knowledge of different farming methods.
More people are moving towards a no-till system, and each farm will have its own starting point and its own problems to face. Mike will be discussing the potential limitations and how we can recognise and manage them to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Mike is speaking at 16.00 on Thursday in the Soil Tent about understanding cover crop systems.
Phil Jarvis (UK)
Manager at the GWCT Allerton Project, Loddington Estate, which has been researching farm ecosystems and the effects of different farming methods on wildlife and the environment for over 20 years. With over 4,000 visitors a year the project is a practical demonstration of landscape management for farmers, rural stakeholders, government and the public.Phil has worked with the challenges of heavy clay soils from blackgrass, soil structure and organic matter to cultivation type, cover cropping and changing weather patterns.e balance between food production and environmental rejuvenation is key and so is learning from the good and bad farming experiences. Phil is currently working with Kellogg’s Origins Growers , AHDB, BBSRC and NFU National Crops Board and Environment Forum.
Phil will be speaking with Nathan Morris of NIAB as part of the Kellogg’s Origins group talk: ‘On Farm Cover Crop Trials - making sustainability work in practice’, at 13.00 in the Seminar Barn on Thursday.
Nathan Morris (UK)
Nathan Morris studied for a PhD in Plant Sciences at the University of Reading looking at establishing arable crops in UK cereal stubbles using strip tillage. Nathan now works at NIAB as the Farming Systems and Soils Specialist. Particular interests and expertise include developing farming systems to improve soil structure and stability whist maintaining crop productivity and understanding nutrient dynamics for efficient crop production. Wider interest in identifying crop ideotypes with improved performance under non-inversion tillage approaches that would provide more stable yields and potentially offer improved drought or disease tolerance within production systems. Nathan has published a number of papers on farming and tillage systems including a review paper on the adoption of non-inversion tillage that was published in Soil and Tillage Research. Nathan is a full member of the British Society of Soil Science and the International Fertiliser Society and holds full Fertiliser Advisors Certification (FACTS).
Nathan will be speaking with Phil Jarvis of NIAB as part of the Kellogg’s Origins group talk: ‘On Farm Cover Crop Trials - making sustainability work in practice’, at 13.00 in the Seminar Barn on Thursday.
Dr Lynda Deeks
Lynda is an experienced soil scientist with interests in the causes and controls of soil compaction and mitigation of soil erosion. Currently she is also a NERC Horticulture Knowledge Exchange Fellow. Within her Fellowship role Lynda is helping to encourage stronger collaboration between the horticulture, potato and science sectors in order to improve sector relevant science and its dissemination.
Lynda will be talking with her Cranfield University colleagues at 9.30 on Thursday, in the Soil Tent.
Tom is a 2nd year research student at Cranfield University working under the supervision of Dr Jacqueline Hannam and Dr Rob Simmons. Tom is sponsored by G’s Growers to investigate the effect of cover crops within a wheat, maize and lettuce rotation.
As part of this work Tom has distributed a survey to UK growers to gather information on soil management practices, in particular the use and management of cover crops. Groundswell Agriculture will be the first chance to report back to the growers and industry on some of the findings from the survey.
Tom will be talking with his Cranfield University colleagues at 9.30 on Thursday, in the Soil Tent.
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.
Liz will be part of the Innovative Farmers panel discussion 'Alternatives to Glyphosate for Terminating Cover Crops' at 12.20 on Thursday in the Seminar Barn.
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.
James will be part of the Innovative Farmers panel discussion 'Alternatives to Glyphosate for Terminating Cover Crops' at 12.20 on Thursday in the Seminar Barn.
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.
Jerry will be part of the Innovative Farmers panel discussion 'Alternatives to Glyphosate for Terminating Cover Crops' at 12.20 on Thursday in the Seminar Barn.