The UK’s largest regenerative agriculture show takes place on 22nd and 23rd June 2022 at Lannock Manor Farm, Hertfordshire and is hosted by the Cherry family.
Groundswell’s programme goes live, revealing the breadth and depth of topics on discussion at this year’s event.
Whether you’re a livestock or arable farmer, a newbie or an old timer in practising regenerative methods; whether you are a foodie, a policy maker or someone attending through general interest there is plenty to inform and delight you. Hear first-hand the successes and failures of others that have stepped into regenerative agriculture, explore alternative perspectives and methods and see for yourself the innovative technology at work in trials plus new varieties, blends, machinery and more.
Shaun Dowman, Affinity Water Agricultural Advisor explains why they are the headline sponsor for the fifth year: “As a water supply company operating in the south-east of England we want to protect the environment for the sake of our 3.6 million customers and future generations. Our headline sponsorship of the Groundswell event goes hand in hand with our work on catchment management. We are doing all we can as a Company to promote sustainable agriculture in the UK alongside protecting the environment.”
Created and hosted by farmers for farmers, Groundswell’s programme is jam-packed full of down-to-earth content.
For arable farmers that includes the seminar ‘Three Transition Tales’ in which farmers, David White, George Fraser and Peter Cartwright share their experiences of moving to regenerative farming. With three very different businesses spread across the UK, the seminar is guaranteed to be rich in challenges, successes and failures. In ‘Learn from My Mistakes’, Cambridgeshire grower Tom Martin puts pride to one side and bears all, giving the audience the opportunity to take away lessons from his journey.
Groundswell is among the first to ask exhibitors to drill their varieties into a cover crop, providing a more realistic environment for growers to assess their performance in a regenerative system. Among the demonstration plots, there’s a wide range of herbal leys, cover crops, wheat varieties and blends to explore, as well as one of the first comparative biostimulant trials. In the demo field, growers will find drills and machinery from 15 manufacturers in action.
Livestock farmers are sure to find Greg Judy’s session, ‘How to think like a grazier,’ thought-provoking. How often do beef, dairy or sheep farmers consider themselves in the solar energy business? There are also sessions looking at managing swards in the real-world context of climate change and increasing fertiliser prices, and an exploration of different approaches to grazing. Five grassland farmers – from a small part-time beef breeder to a large first-generation tenant dairy farmer – will take to the stage and share their regenerative journeys.
In the demonstration plots, livestock farmers will find a range of grasses and herbs, grown individually and in mixes, with experts on hand to discuss optimising swards.
Diversification for resilience is one of the founding principles of regenerative agriculture and for those seeking fresh ideas, inspiration or insights, Groundswell has it all. NIAB has two sessions on the topic.
The first explores the opportunities within supply chains while the second considers agroforestry. You can hear farmers’ experiences of growing woodchip and grass seed, as well as those who’ve delved into the world of horticulture and how a new enterprise is producing leather from animals raised on Pasture for Life farmers in the UK.
The Big Picture
Regenerative agriculture seeks to address some of the hardest challenges in the history of agriculture. And Groundswell 2022 doesn’t shy away from the big issues with sessions like ‘The national food strategy: one year on’ with the author, Henry Dimbleby and ‘Carbon Question Time,’ hosted by the Oxford Farming Conference.
Among the questions being asked at this year’s event are ‘how can we, as an industry and as individual farming businesses de-carbonise UK agriculture?,’ ‘are we doing the right things or doing the wrong things, better?,’ ‘how do we remove barriers for young people in farming and widen land access?’ and ‘how do we communicate the benefits of regenerative agriculture to British consumers?.’
The programme includes some out of the box thinking with sessions such as ‘is the future of agriculture perennial?’ where Lennart Olsson, Professor of Geography at Lund University, looks at recent advances in the domestication and breeding of new perennial grain crops and the technical feasibility of shifting to them.
Get a taste of the range of innovation in agri-tech with a series of lightning fast, two-minute presentations from the members of Agri-TechE., the session will feature new research, cutting edge technologies with a focus on support for the transition to ELMS.
Climate change modelling will provide the insights for the session on ‘Water Management and The Future’ with Tim Field, founder of Agricology, Ian Simpson founder of the Bledington Flood Group and Stephen Briggs, Senior Partner at Abacus Agriculture and head of technical development at Innovation for Agriculture and non-exec director of AHDB.
DEMONSTRATIONS, CROP PLOTS, BOOKS AND FOOD
From tree management and composting to drills, drones and robots, Groundswell visitors will also have the opportunity to see machinery in action, live demonstrations and assess the performance of various crops and cover crops.
World renowned rhizosphere ecologist and soil guru from the U.S., Dr Jill Clapperton, will be demonstrating the dramatic effect of two inches of rainfall on two inches of soil from different management regimes. The dung beetle safari and mob grazing demonstrations are back by popular demand too.
KWS has direct drilled in the cover crop 6 varieties of winter wheat – KWS Zyatt, KWS Extase, KWS Palladium, KWS Guium, KWS Dawsum and KWS Cranium. “They all have vigorous traits and are either proven or likely to perform well in this direct drilled situation,” explains KWS Technical Specialist, Olivia Potter. “KWS Guium, KWS Dawsum and KWS Palladium were all added to the Recommended List last year, so we’ve yet to see how they responds in these conditions.”
Olivia has been managing the demonstration plots, visiting them every three or so weeks. “They are all looking very well, including all three of the newer varieties” she says.
“Groundswell is an important show for us. It enables us to demonstrate that many of our varieties do well in no- and min-till situations.”
NIAB have six areas of discussion plus a biostimulants trial, as trials manager, Will Smith explains:
“There is so much we could do but rather than try and cover everything, we’ve selected the most pertinent and developed demonstration plots which are likely to prompt discussion.”
NIAB will be showcasing three herbal leys which have originated from Lydia Smith’s project funded by the SARIC scheme and discussing their impacts on follow crops. “We’ll also be looking at wheat blends and demonstrating mixtures of varieties with different resistance scores as well as blends designed around protein content, maximising yield and weed management,” he adds.
The organisation has also chosen three winter wheat varieties to demonstrate, all have traits which should make them strong options for those adopting the principles of regenerative agriculture. “We’ll also be looking at the future of breeding programme and opening the conversation around which traits we ought to prioritise. There will be two plots showcasing ‘new material’.
“Nutrition management is another key area and we’ve three plots comparing different products, and a true trial of biostimulants from five manufacturers.”
Barenbrug, the second-largest grass breeder in the world, will be sharing its knowledge on the different grass species and varieties, and the benefits they can bring to both arable and livestock farming enterprises.
“We’ve got quite a lot in the ground, including plots with individual species of chicory, plantain, burnet, yarrow, sainfoin and sheep’s parsley, all of which are commonly found in herbal leys,” explains Yvonne Hargreaves, Barenbrug Brand Marketing Manager. “We’ve also got red clover, white clover, crimson clover, winter vetch and birdsfoot trefoil to highlight the different species that come in multispecies swards.
“Part of the conversation will no doubt be around the role and value of diversity in swards and the synergies that arise from a mixture of species. To that end, there will also be plots showcasing some our unique products including Bar Herbal, GS4 Graze, Barmix, Bar finisher, and Prota Sile. All are designed for grazing or as use as cover crops.”
Barenbrug is also one of the largest breeders of lucerne and is seeing increasing interest in the crop in the UK. One of its demo plots will contain its variety Artemis. “With excellent winter hardiness and outstanding resistance to nematode and diseases, it is suitable for growing in the UK particularly on lighter, sandier soils.”
Tall fescue, cocksfoot, meadow fescue and timothy varieties will also be available to see.
“Last but certainly not least are the two trial plots. Developed by our colleagues in the Netherlands we’ve two new nutri-herb mixes. While each is suited to different soil types, they both contain species and varieties with a wide range of nutritional and environmental benefits, such as carraway, chicory and plantain.”
Feeding bodies and minds
Over at the Groundswell Book store, run in collaboration with David’s, a local and independent bookshop based locally in Letchworth Garden City, more than 15 authors will be doing book signings. Authors include Dan Saladino, Benedict MacDonald, Simon Fairlie, Ben Raskin, Diana Rodgers and Jake Fiennes.
Making the link between soil and plate are a stellar line-up of bakers, chefs, and food producers. From New Zealand’s multi-award winning chef and owner of the Mayfair Apricity Restaurant, Chantelle Nicholson, and Somerset cheesemaker, Tom Calver of Westcombe Dairy, to Honest Burger, Wildfarmed, The Jolly Allotment and more, there’s something for all taste buds.