On the 8th of November, Hutchinsons will hold its first-ever agroecology conference, enabling growers to make the most of regenerative farming practises.
Agroecology: Making the Transition will reportedly address many of the core principles of regenerative agriculture, which head of agroecology Ed Brown believes form the basis of good agronomy.
Rising costs, changes to farm support, and increasingly extreme weather events have hastened the need to build more resilient production systems that harness natural processes and reduce the need for artificial inputs.
“The days of ‘high input, high output at all costs’ agriculture are numbered. The focus is much more about taking a holistic approach to farming and agronomy,” Mr Brown said.
The conference will be held alongside the launch of Hutchinsons’ agroecology service.
Mr Brown added: “Whether you’re a farmer that has already moved to a more resilient farming model, or is just starting out, the conference should have something for everyone.”
Speakers include Knight Frank’s Tom Heathcote, who is passionate about regenerative farming and has helped a number of businesses transition. Hutchinsons’ Ian Robertson will also take part, explaining the importance of understanding the soil.
Independent researcher and regenerative consultant, Joel Williams, will also offer a technical insight of his latest research.
Two farmers will also take the stage. Ben Taylor-Davies, known as Regen Ben, will share his experiences of adopting regenerative farming, while Harry Heath, who hosts the Helix Agroecology farm, will explain how he has tackled soil health issues.
“For us, we’ve gone through that early phase where we recognised our soils weren’t in the best of health, with significant slumping and erosion,” said Mr Heath. “We were massively over-cultivating, and with subsoiling, in particular, we found the more we did, the more we had to do, to artificially create structure.
“But we are now well down the implementation phase, having converted to direct drilling five years ago.”
Cover and catch crops, grazed off by sheep or pigs, are integral to the rotation improving the soil structure while also feeding the biology.
“Soil health and microbiology are always at the forefront of our decision-making process,” Mr Heath added. “The symbiosis that exists between the microbiology and the plant is vital and making sure we maximise that is integral to agroecology.
“But the key is to be open-minded. To get off the conventional treadmill, you have to think differently, recognise it’s not all about the crop and continually question everything you do.”
The event will be held on the 8th of November at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield. To book your place and find out more go to www.hlhltd.co.uk