Here at Wookey farm, we’re doing our best to farm with nature and biodiversity in mind, trying to always make decisions with nature in mind.
Hedgerows are a haven for local wildlife, providing much needed habitats for birds, mammals and insects so we let our hedges grow wherever we can. The goats also love hedges so we’ve put up stock proof fencing so they can’t destroy them!
Soil – the key to everything
I’ve done a lot of reading about regenerative farming which focuses on improving and revitalising soil health. Healthier soils store more carbon, in fact even more than trees, so its vital that we look after them. Improving soil health is key to improving productivity and biodiversity. One of the key components of healthy soil is organic matter and improving soil matter content can reduce or even stop soil erosion and improve water infiltration, water retention, nutrient cycling, plant health, biodiversity and much much more.
In order to protect the soils, we don’t use any artificial fertilisers, or pesticides and limit the amount of compaction. We’re trying to mob graze the goats so the grasses have time to recover. Mob grazing means the animals eat a third, trample a third and leave a third – therefore protecting the soils and leaving deep roots in tact. There are more nutrients available within the plants as the roots are healthier. The plants and grasses can bounce back because we have left healthy roots so they’re not having to put all their energy into the roots finding nutrients. They can concentrate on growing above ground. It sounds like a perfect solution – the only problem is the time taken to move the electric fencing and making sure they always have access to water. Also goats don’t like rain so access to shelter may be an issue – I’m sure I’ll find a solution as it really does seem better for livestock, better for soils and better for biodiversity as the longer grasses attract more insects and mammals.
Off to a farm for a workshop all about regenerative farming next week so will hopefully come back buzzing with more ideas.
Lots of really helpful advice here at the nature friendly farming network
As well as some great podcasts