Sheep standing in a row

Regenerative Farming

Our core farm has been organic for over 20 years, and we have recently bought additional land which is now in conversion to organic status. This is a great start, but we want to go further.

Over the last four years we’ve been supplementing our organic practices with other regenerative farming techniques. Our aim is to create ever healthier soils, improve the productivity of our land, increase biodiversity and sequest more and more carbon in our soil.

Regenerative farming at Fowlescombe

Regenerative farming is about building organic matter in the soil and creating healthy natural ecosystems - helping food to grow through better water filtration, nutrient cycling and soil biodiversity.

The way it is applied will vary according to what’s being produced on the farm, the land type and environmental pressures.

For us at Fowlescombe it means:

Minimising soil disturbance

Minimise soil disturbance

What we’re doing

Using ‘no-dig’ methods in our vegetable garden and direct drilling for seed planting in the fields.

...and Why

By minimising mechanical disturbance of the soil, we help maintain a diverse soil biota (not all organisms can survive mechanical disturbance).

As we’re an organic system and chemical weed control is not possible, we occasionally need to use mechanical cultivation - but only as an exception when competition from weeds is high in areas where we are trying to establish new seeds.

Plant diverse seed mixes

What we’re doing

Planting diverse herbal leys. We have planted over 100 acres of herbal leys on the farm so far, and plan to expand this further.

...and Why

These grass and herb mixes provide appetising and nutritious forage for the animals and help improve soil drainage through the varied root structures of plants. Our legume rich seed mixes help fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil.

Sheep in Herbal Leys
Soil being covered

Keep soil covered

What we’re doing

In fields and vegetable gardens, maintaining either a living crop or a deep mulch or compost.

...and Why

By protecting our soils from extreme weather damage in this way, we reduce erosion and loss of nutrients when it rains and help maintain soil moisture during drought conditions.

Maintain living roots

What we’re doing

Keeping the soil alive all year

...and Why

Roots are the transport network to get nutrients above ground into the soil to feed the biology below the surface. The complex interactions of soil microbiology provide nutrient cycling services which support the growth of the next crop.

Due to the high rainfall and soil types at Fowlescombe, we remove cattle from the fields for the wettest winter months to ensure soil health is maintained.

Cows in a barn
Livestock in a field

Integrate livestock

What we’re doing

Mimicking nature by allowing our land to be grazed for short periods followed by long recovery periods

...and Why

Our animals graze rotationally around the farm through the seasons, moving regularly according to their nutritional needs and the grass growth rates. They browse the hedges and take shelter in the shade of trees, and the dung that they leave behind feeds the soil and supports insects which in turn feed bats and birds.

Improve biodiversity

What we’re doing

Creating habitat for a huge variety of wildlife species - both above and below ground.

...and Why

Our farm is a diverse landscape including permanent pasture, herbal leys, ancient untouched woodland, springs and streams, and mature Devon hedges.

Supporting pollination

Support pollination

What we’re doing

Provide habitat for bees and other native pollinators

...and Why

Our flowering herbal leys and rotational grazing practices provide great diversity of habitat. Pollination is also supported by the 16 hives of honey bees resident on the farm.

Get in Touch

We would love to hear from others interested in growing the future of sustainable food produce in the UK.

Mobile signal is limited in the valley and we are often out tending to our animals, so if you can't get through please leave us a message or drop us an email and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Fowlescombe Farm
PL21 0HW

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