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Over the past three years Yeo Valley Farms has been on a regenerative grazing journey, with collective learnings from each year progressing the grazing strategy. All with the aim to replicate natural interactions between livestock and the eco-system.

Beginning with mob grazing (link to regenerative grazing page) and the learnings and success that came from Yeo Valley’s dairy beef enterprise, led the farms to gain confidence and understanding in how to apply it with the dairy herd.

Working with holistically trained expert Siobhann Griffin to fine tune regenerative grazing practices applied to the dairy herd (which is often seen as more difficult than with beef stock). A key principle of Siobhann’s teachings is to maintain grass qualities and milk yields while achieving regenerative principles, for example greater cover.

Yeo Valley Farms have grazed their organic pastures through rotational grazing for multiple years. In 2022 the farm team performed a number of small trails to test regenerative theories on the existing grazing land.

Farm Development Manager Will Mayor said: “We split one field in half, treating one section in a traditional organic grazing rotation, topping to re-set the pasture and addressing weed burden. The other half of the field we employed more of a regenerative approach with no topping and leaving a higher cover after grazing, with a focus on trampling residue.”

This trail happened during the drought period of July 2022, when every millimetre of rain counted. When the team conducted water and infiltration tests the rotational side took 41 minutes for 40mls of water to infiltrate. The regenerative side of the field took 1 minute for 40mls of water to infiltrate. With ever extreme weather periods resilience in farming is essential.

After building confidence through training and past experiences the farm decided to begin a Next Level Grazing strategy in 2023. The greatest challenge in adopting this approach was mindset change, Will added: “Going from a tried and tested system to a completely new approach, where pastures would look “messy,” with concerns of grass quality and quantity. However, through more “mess” came a greater diversity in the sward, created habitats, resilience and addressed concerns of quantity and quality.”

The farm saw no marked drop in milk yields during the grazing season and continued to grow grass through the extreme weather periods. The benefits of Next Level Grazing were taller grass cover with larger potential for photosynthesis, longer roots, maximising the carbon capture. Trampling of residue protecting the soil surface from extreme weather and feeding the soil.

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Regenerative Organic Farming