Regenerative Agriculture Event launched to help livestock farmers overcome industry challenges

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) is launching a brand-new event this summer for livestock farmers, showcasing practical regenerative farming techniques that can improve productivity, reduce input costs, and protect the environment.

Down to Earth, taking place on 15 June in Shropshire is tailored for dairy, beef and sheep farmers. The event is designed to offer something for everyone; whether new to this topic and just curious, or a farmer looking for practical take-home strategies to implement and enhance what’s already being done on the farm, through to those who want to follow a full regenerative journey.

At its core, regenerative agriculture looks at improving soil health or restoring soil structure. Down to Earth offers an arena where the whole industry can come together and address the opportunities, facts, and the science surrounding its principles and see them in action.

The event is sponsored by Barclays, Mole Valley Farmers, Promar, Kite Consulting and AHDB and is hosted at The Farm, owned by organic dairy farmer Tim Downes. He has been using regenerative farming principles for many years and is now reaping the rewards. He is achieving grass yields upwards of 11t of DM a ha without any bought-in inputs, with 4,500L of milk from forage.

What’s on at the event

As well as seeing the regenerative farming principles in action through farm tours throughout the day, Down to Earth will also host top industry speakers, drop-in workshops, practical demonstrations and a range of exhibitors. Areas covered include:

– Soil health and management
– Grassland management and use of multi-species swards
– Agroforestry
– Water management
– Managing slurry and manure and preparing for regulation changes
– Bokashi bugs
– Carbon auditing

Commenting on the event, RABDF Managing Director Matt Knight said: “As pressure mounts for all livestock farming systems to become more sustainable, the RABDF has launched Down to Earth to offer practical face-to-face help to farmers. Regenerative farming can help build a food system that meets the consumer’s needs, the animals and the environment.

“Livestock farmers face unprecedented changes with diminishing farm payments, increasing pressures to farm in an environmentally sensitive way, and looming emissions targets. It’s inevitable, as a result of these mounting pressures, all farmers will have to make some changes to stay in business.

“In addition, food security is also becoming a cause for concern with the pandemic and the Ukrainian war thrusting it into the spotlight. Finding ways to produce world-class food efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way is a must!

Tom Gill, Head of Sustainability at Promar, added: “Telling the positive story of livestock agriculture and our journey to support the achievement of net-zero farming is critical. We need to communicate this story of our dairy, beef and lamb products and the journey from farm to fork.

“The Down to Earth event provides this opportunity and it will allow us to engage our farmers in the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Whether it is addressing nature decline or reducing greenhouse gas emissions, livestock agriculture is part of the solution – It’s not the cow! It’s the how.

Jack Cordery, CEO of Mole Valley Farmers, said: “We are delighted to support Down to Earth and be a part of this project from the outset. This event provides the industry with a great platform to share new approaches, see best practice and learn from each other.

“Our business is committed to UK agriculture and supporting farmers on the journey to net-zero. We must all work together to develop our understanding and approach to regenerative agriculture so that we can respond to the challenges of climate change and enhancing biodiversity.

UK agriculture has to be the driver for change, finding solutions to the challenges to maintain food production and food security, but with sustainability increasingly at the forefront of our thinking.”

Nic Parsons, AHDB head of dairy development, added: “Down to Earth is a great opportunity to support farmers who want to follow a regenerative approach and see the event hosted by respected farmer and AHDB strategic dairy farm host Tim Downes.”

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