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The New Word In Farming - ‘Regenerative Agriculture’

‘Regenerative Farming’

Was first coined by the Rodale Institute in America in the 1980’s.

At SFS we called it Bio-Logical Farming 20+ years ago.

Whatever you call it, the object is the same:

* Improve your soil’s true fertility,

* Reduce reliance on chemical Nitrogen and

* Lower disease pressure using natural plant growth stimulants.

Now it is what everyone wants to do – Okay, that’s brilliant, and it is what we have been promoting for all these years, but do bear in mind the result should be

TO GROW HEALTHY PRODUCE!

I wince when I hear the farming press talk about farmers growing food – most farmers grow commodities, ie wheat, barley, OSR etc; these may be turned into food (for something) - a few large scale veg growers may grow carrots, cabbage etc with potatoes mostly being grown for pre-packers; organic producers maybe closer to their end user. How important is it to recognise that this ‘food’ should be rich in essential minerals?


We often feed our livestock better than we feed our people. The more balanced the mineral levels, the healthier your crop will be and therefore the less chemicals you will need. If you are a beef, sheep or dairy farmer, the more likely you are to ensure your livestock has a balanced diet – it pays. If you use the BetterGrass Programme, then you know how your animal’s health is improved when they have mineral-rich grass.


So, why not give your crops the ability to get more minerals from the soil they are growing in?

But they will need an active root system and THAT requires a living soil; THAT is what we do!

There is nothing new, more like re-invention. More people are thinking about ‘Biological’ or Regenerative farming, in fact this has been going on for ever.

Contemplate this quote:-

“Anything living alters its environment for its benefit in order that it may live and reproduce. Life is contained in the cell. Cells vary in size. The largest cell on Earth is an ostrich egg. The smallest is a bacteria. In the warm-blooded animal, the reproductive cells are the largest and the smallest, the sperm cell being the smallest, the egg being the largest. These cells are able to carry on the process of life.

Cells need only food from the outside. They can break down complex compounds and synthesize their own body tissues. A virus, which is smaller than the smallest bacteria, has to live within the cell. Living tissue has to get its food by either concentrating or diluting its environment in order to make its environment a part of its tissue.

All of life is parasitic, exceptions being few. Plants are the exception. Plant life contains chlorophyl or a substitute pigment.

Science has identified these pigments by which plant cells can synthesize their own tissue out of simple inorganic elements, the plane of observation defining the locus of organic and inorganic in the life process.

Chlorophyl is the pigment in the green algae. The pigment in the retina of the human eye, contained by certain cells, can synthesize proteins etc, out of angstrom sized inorganic materials.

Green plants will not use organic materials of the micron size. The plant is not fed organic materials. The soil is the container and in turn feeds the plant. It is the supreme function of the soil and it’s life forms to prepare for plants a suitably sized diet composed of life’s diversity minerals, which explains why and how some plants draw nutrients from the air as well as the soil and solutions.

Just as plants require a diet that chemists might style organic – taking the transport mechanisms into consideration – animals turn to the mineral box only when desperate, leaving it to micro-organisms in the gut to refine and make available nutrient values contained therein.”

Excerpt taken from ‘Sea, Energy, Agriculture’ by Maynard Murray M.D.


Mr Dodd uses the

BetterGrass Liquid Standard product.

Results left, show before and after silage samples.

Earlier this year Mr Dodd was kind enough to inform us that

following blood testing to his animals,

the vet informed him

NO supplementary minerals

are required.


Improvements noticed by Mr Hunt since using BetterGrass:

¨ A better shine on coats of cows

¨ Reduced numbers of retained placentas

¨ Cows have been looking healthier year on year

¨ Number of milk fever incidences have reduced each year

¨ Calves produced fatten well for beef

Marcus says :“They’re simply just better cows’’.

It doesn’t matter if you’re ‘up North’ or ‘down South’, the results are the same.

9 years of results & balances being maintained.

Cut it out

Does this sound familiar ?

“I’ve been reading the Newsletters for a while now and never really got around to doing anything about it, the trouble is, all this ‘biological stuff’ sounds a real faff, when all I want to do is save money.”


When you say ‘save money’, do you mean that you want to spend less or spend it wiser? Many inputs will come with a cost but how do you measure and value the stuff that you do not do? Example:


¨ Farmer 1: Our time together began at the kitchen table where the son - watched by dad through sceptical eyes, was slowly taking over more responsibility for the day to day running of the farm. The son had exhausted ‘YouTube’ in his research on Re-gen Agriculture and had convinced dad to let him try something different on a smallish’ area. Fast forward nearly 5 years and we have converted dad into a believer, to the point where we now advise on the whole farm. The soils are working the best they have in a generation; using no insecticides, reduced fungicide inputs and increased worm and natural predator numbers. The eco system is now working with us, enhancing soil and plant disease resistance and with improved soil quality we have access to more untapped resources such as locked-up phosphate and atmospheric nitrogen release.

(With and without soil conditioner following heavy rain Feb 2021)

¨ Farmer 2: A typical conventionally run farm, with big machines that pummel the heavy soil into submission each season. Now, he got sold to - The Rep at the time twisted the family’s arm to try some soil conditioner; begrudgingly they tried it. They couldn’t see much response in year one so tried a second time, here we are over 10 years later and they’re still doing it: “Years ago we had to beat the living hell out of the land, what a difference now.”


¨ Farmer 3: He wanted to improve his soil, so started reading a lot to educate himself. This gave him just as many questions as answers and as he had both light and heavy land knew he would need a different approach. So we began our journey together. He moved away leaving a brother in charge, who was less enthusiastic for the non-conventional methods but stuck with the system anyhow. “Now we are producing some of the best silage ever made-on farm, the animals are in a fantastic condition, with improved health reducing the need to call on the vet.”


“We assume that everything's becoming more efficient and in an immediate sense that's true; our lives are better in many ways but that improvement has been gained through a massively inefficient use of natural resources.” Paul Hawken

Think about it!


No Messing about.

Why Mega-Fos is my favourite product from SFS

When the green of the crop gets told to grow by the suns radiation and the farmer has begun to apply his Nitrogen, all too often the roots powering the supply chain of nutrition get neglected. That is where the Mega-Fos comes in…


Phosphate provides energy (TPA), plants need energy to grow therefore plants need available phosphate, it is no good from a plant point of view using up your energy reserves just to get more energy; far better to employ some assistance in the form of ‘microbial miners’ who will scavenge and release elements from the soil, in exchange for sugary exudates. Similarly, why waste your plant’s energy defending itself from pathogens? Simply hire in some bacterial assistance!

A plant in good health maintains its own balance; when nitrogen and or fungicides enter the arena, this equilibrium gets disturbed; sugar levels can be lowered, cell walls get over stretched and weaker - potentially pathing the way for insect and pathogen attack. Far better to be proactive in your crop protection and nutrition approach by bolstering the crop and maximising it’s potential.

Mega-Fos utilises the Megabacters to:

* Stimulate healthy growth

* Maximise nutrient cycling

* Fight pathogens on the leaf and in the root zone.

As an example, if you want to do some ‘Googling’, check out: ‘Benefits of Bacillus Subtilis in the soil’ to find out more on just one member of ‘the bacterial army’ we employ.

It also contains carbon compounds such as Humic and Fulvic acids that will increase the soil resilience to adverse conditions. The Vermicompost (worm casting liquid), is jam packed with trace elements essential for plant health and soil improvement. We include a chelating agent, which means the nutrition is held in a plant available form for longer, rather than have it lock up wasting valuable resources.


Mega-Fos is foliar applied at 10 lt/ha = £15/ha and is suitable for most crops.


Give us a call if you would like to know more: 01366 384899 Or on my mobile: 07748 980234 Steve Holloway

After joining the team at SFS a few months ago, it is clear to see that the agricultural sector is facing some key challenges with farming methods with which they are looking to change over the next decade, to come in line with good soil health and better environmental outcomes. SFS will be at the forefront of these changes as part of our integrated approach to improve soil and crop performance. Before starting with SFS, I was educated on a chemical high input system but was uneducated on the future of biological farming. I question why, In my years of education, was this very logical way of farming never taught?


Over the last few months, I have been acquiring new knowledge from not only listening to podcasts and reading books but from being on farm, soil sampling and talking to educated farmers about their personal ways of farming biologically. My role at SFS will see me offering soil sampling, tissue sampling and delivering a bespoke product recommendation; supporting you across the sector to deliver overall performance and sustainability. I have a strong passion for soil health, and I see my role as a career and not just a job. I am enthusiastic to see the changes that are coming to the agricultural industry and am proud to be a part of it.


As I have been travelling around the Country soil sampling, it is clear to see spring has sprung; grass and crops are growing and soil temperatures are rising. We often describe spring as a time of rebirth, renewal and awakening. A year down the line and I don’t think anyone expected another lambing or calving season in a national lockdown, especially not myself.

Back home we are in full swing of this year’s lambing of commercial ewes and even though you can be stuck in a lambing yard the Covid-19 restrictions still take its toll. Seeing new life on the farm brings a sense of normality and brings hope for less restricted times to come. In the meantime, I look forward to meeting more of you forward thinking farmers.


Hannah.

All soils contain large amounts of potassium (K+), generally the more clay in your soil the more K+ you have. Some types of clay are very rich indeed and may have 20,000 kg/ha of K+, just in the top 15cm (6”) of soil, others may only have 12-15,000 kg. The amount in your soil is not

really the problem, the real problem is how much of this soil reserve can your crops get hold of, particularly when they really need it at fast growing times e.g. stem extension and grain fill.

From now until mid June, (15 weeks) a crop of wheat/OSR will need to pull up from the soil roughly the same amount of K+ as it does Nitrogen, around 300 kg/ha (240 units/acre). That does not sound too bad if your soil has 20,000 kg/ha in the top soil; your crop only needs to find 1½ % of that plus there is plenty more potash down the soil profile and your plant roots will certainly be accessing K+ from deep into your soil. So why do we have a problem with low ‘availability’ levels of K+, and why do we need to supplement your crops?


The better the root system of your crop, the more soil it explores, the more K+ it will find (plus other minerals) and vice versa; so good strong root systems going deep into the soil is No. 1. Currently plant tissues results are showing a low uptake of potassium, this is very important for ALL crops; in fact just as important as Nitrogen but the difference is plant availability. Early results indicate low Potassium, low Boron, low Zinc - all easily corrected with a foliar feed where we include Potassium-fixers together with plant health probiotics. You only need 10 lt/ha of Vitaplex Bio.


¨ First application to be applied from: 7.5 litres per hectare

¨ 2 subsequent applications applied from: 5 litres per hectare

¨ Cost: £2.00 per litre


Update re’ Nichola…

Many of you have very kindly been asking after my daughter Nichola; we had a good

Christmas, a few laughs in the run up with strange visitors arriving daily, then with Emily (Grand daughter joining us for the day, before ‘Lockdown’ once again. More recently, in her words: “I have had enough, just let me go.” What can anyone say or do about that!


We do appreciate your kind words and concern, some of you have been in similar situations. We will continue as best we can and keep her as comfortable and happy as possible.


Robert

Issue 64


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