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We used to Plough the Fields and Scatter


Crop sowing 2022

Spring 2022, The 2nd Anniversary of Lockdown, the ongoing situation in Ukraine and surrounding nations, petrol prices, inflation and much more to worry or stress about for all of us, that is if you watch the news or read the papers.

However, after digesting all that, the reverse is that ‘Life goes on’ no matter what is happening, and it certainly rings true here in our little Laverock Hall Farm bubble.

I posted some pictures last week on Facebook of young Colin the calf (named by Chris) – the baby was an unexpected arrival, he was born to one of the cows who are lodging here for the Winter and will soon be off with his mum to pastures new, quite literally!  He’s such a cutie and a favourite with all the family but as you all know its dangerous to get too attached as they must go off on their way when they don’t belong to you.

We’re now also busy planting Spring crops, mainly oats. We are planting these fields where the cover crops were growing all Winter on the farm. For anyone who isn’t aware of the term, a cover crop is basically something that we plant in the Autumn, which fix nitrogen and provide food and cover for the animals and birds too over the Winter. The nitrogen fixing means we don’t have to put this on artificially, and it keeps the natural environment smiling. It is usually a clover type mixture, with some lovely flowers in it too. Around this time the crops die back, and the land is planted with Spring crops, but the dying cover crops provide natural fertilisers and enrich the soil too as they mulch away.

Instead of ploughing and rotavating the soil as we have done in the past, this newer method is more cost effective (we hope), meaning less trips over the land with the tractor so there is less compaction and disruption to the land, plus hopefully reducing the need for artificial fertiliser too. We are trying to reduce the need for fertilisers from an eco and an economic perspective too as due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine our fertiliser here in the UK has increased in price fivefold to over £1,000 a ton this year.

We have used this cover crop method for a number of years now and the soil has improved so much, and we have lots of worms working their magic too, plus the reduction in artificial fertilisers has meant that the wildlife and birdlife numbers have increased with a lot less disruption to their habitats and health too so hopefully it’s a win win situation for us farmers and the birds and animals too.

It’s getting very busy around here, both on the farm and here in our garden too. The garden birds have had a very mild winter and their numbers seem to be on the increase - if the empty feeders are anything to go by! The pheasants are also getting tamer and more of them come nearer to our window, plus the smaller birds are very busy at the feeders and the bird table too, it’s a pleasure and a privilege to watch them going about their daily lives with a little help from us.

So there is certainly a lot going on here, but we all think that using this method of cover crops instead of artificial fertilizers has meant that we had lovely plants to look at, have saved money, are making less tractor trips, the wildlife is happy, and (perhaps most importantly) it feels as if we are farming alongside nature, as people will have done a long while before the artificial fertilizers were around.

Cyclical and harmonious!

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