Future Farmers of Yorkshire is sending a six-strong contingent to Groundswell this summer.
This annual regenerative agriculture-focused event continues to be a hot ticket and a key centre of debate around a much-talked about topic in British agriculture.
Representing Future Farmers
Earlier this year, Future Farmers of Yorkshire invited its members to apply for a bursary to cover the costs of attending this year’s Groundswell, held on 28-29th June in Hertfordshire.
Competition for places was fierce but after much consideration we can now introduce our team of Future Farmers who will be representing the Network at Groundswell 2023.
Each of our bursary recipients will be sharing the benefits of their experiences in reports which will be available via the Future Farmers webpage.
Meet our Groundswell attendees
Victoria is a new entrant farmer and farm animal vet, originally from Yorkshire and now farming 30 acres on a small private estate in Staffordshire.
Victoria farms in partnership with her husband and the couple have been farming alongside their full-time day jobs for the last 12 months.
They have 23 cross bred suckler cows and their calves, which they sell as stores, a small herd of rare breed Large Black pigs, some of which they sell for breeding and the rest they rear to finishing and sell as meat boxes.
Victoria told us:
I would like to attend Groundswell primarily to learn how I could embrace regenerative farming principles on a small acreage whilst maintaining two economic outputs.
We are about to join the Sustainable Farming Incentive and I would like some tips on how to improve our poor-quality soil which was previously under industrial use. I can then hopefully put these ideas in my soil improvement plan.
A farmer’s son from south-west Scotland, Blair is a rural chartered surveyor and runs his own business, The Land Management Partnership based in Boroughbridge.
Through the course of his work, Blair, who is Vice Chair of Future Farmers of Yorkshire, advises a range of farmers and landowners across the region providing independent advice on a range of rural matters.
Blair told us:
I am passionate about providing my clients with the most up-to-date advice, and I think it goes without saying that agriculture is currently going through a period of significant change which we need to start reacting to, and planning, how these businesses can evolve.
For that reason, it’s essential for me to attend events such as Groundswell to be able to consider, and understand, the research that is being done in respect of our soils and farming systems.
I have seen a trend with my clients wanting to learn more about regenerative farming. I want to be best placed and at the forefront of advising them how they can implement this in their own business.
Not from a farming background, Shaun now works as manager and arable operator on his wife’s family’s 150ha farm in North Yorkshire.
The farm is moving away from a purely plough-based cultivation system and was an early adopter of GPS technology, and Shaun is now trying variable rate fertiliser applications and variable rate drilling.
Shaun told us:
Having listened to a number of presentations on the subject of regenerative agriculture, I feel that this may be the approach that we should be adopting on our farm.
As I have come into the farming industry with limited background knowledge, I feel that attending Groundswell would be the perfect opportunity for me to gain a better understanding of regenerative agriculture, and how it could be integrated into our farming system.
Gavin & Becks Lonsdale
New entrant farming couple and former Royal Navy recruits Gavin and Becks are taking their first steps into regenerative land management with a small fold of Highland cows on rented land.
After leaving the Navy, the pair worked on various farms in Australia and were particularly inspired by their time spent with regenerative agriculture advocate Derek Smith.
Gavin and Becks told us:
Having not come from a farming background we are not encumbered by any particular perspective and are keen to absorb knowledge and experiment with different ways of looking after and improving our soil ecosystem over time.
Rob is a fourth-generation tenant on the Newby Hall estate near Boroughbridge where his farming business is based around growing arable crops such as wheat, barley, oilseed rape and beans.
Rob, 33, assumed the running of the farm following the death of his father. Now in his third growing season, he is keen to reduce his reliance on artificial fertiliser and other agricultural chemicals.
Rob told us:
I want to look at the way a plant can mine what it needs from healthy soils. A healthy plant won’t need protecting from predators or diseases, it will be able to fend for itself.
The need for fungicides comes from us creating unnatural habitat and unhealthy plants by over applying the wrong nutrients. Nitrogen efficiency and phosphorus leaching into water courses are two topics that just aren’t going to go away.
We need to learn how to feed the plant what it needs at the right time so that it isn’t wasted. And this is what I want to gain from a visit to Groundswell. The future of our industry is pivotal on becoming more environmentally friendly and sustainable.