We are growing the regenerative organic farming movement in the UK with research, testing and knowledge sharing.
Why are we doing this?
To understand the current soil carbon stock and soil health, across 25 of our network of farms.
As farmers, we know that soil health is the foundation of a resilient farming system. We are doing this project to deliver improvements to soil health and carbon storage.
What does the project involve?
– Initial soil sampling to understand the current conditions of each field on the farms
– Working collaboratives to change practices to improve soil health and carbon storage
– Retesting soils to assess this change, and hopefully see improvement!
HOW ARE WE MEASURING SOIL HEALTH?
– Each field is tested for nutrients and pH from a soil sample
– Each field is tested for soil organic matter and soil organic carbon
– This includes analysing soil structure, worms, stability and density
– 15 points across one field are monitored at 3 depths, as well as, three observations pits
What are we working with…
At present, some of the 25 farms current cropping includes diverse swards, growing a mix of species. A few woodland areas are included in the whole cohort, and therefore trialing agroforestry has become an option. Arable crops are often grown as part of ley/arable rotation.
CARBON YIELD COMPARISON DATA:
What does this mean?
This graph highlights total carbon stored in fields in three different groups of farms. Farms taking part in this project are in green, navy blue highlights other dairy farms outside of this project, turquoise is all other farm types e.g. arable, sheep, beef, etc.
At all depths the farms in our project (green) measured higher carbon stocks per ha, than the comparable data (blue/turquoise).
Why are carbon stocks higher on farms taking part in this project.
What kind of practices enhanced these results…
CASE STUDY 1:
ONE FARM TAKING PART IN THE YEO VALLEY REGENERATIVE ORGANIC FARMING PROJECT: INCREASED DIVERSITY IN PASTURE
This table highlights a split field trial, one half of the field grew a two species mix (perennial rye grass and white clover) and the other half grew a diverse mix (typically 8 – 16 species)
Management history for both sections were the same, and both leys established spring 2019 and grazed 2020 / 2021.
We can clearly see that the diverse mix, specifically 10 – 30cm depth, perhaps shows that the deeper rooting species in the diverse mix was helping to store carbon deeper in the soils profile.
Through analysing the results of year 1, we have a clearer understand of the carbon stocks in the soils of the 25 farms in our project.
Through the development of a bespoke action plan for each farm, we want to work together to improve sequestration levels by highlighting fields to target with trials or new approaches to management e.g. mob grazing, diverse cropping and agroforestry for the next 5 years.