Original article by Tony McDougal
Dairy farmers in the UK are signing up in droves to commit to regenerative interventions, which enhance water, nutrient and carbon cycling and relies less on external inputs across tens of thousands of hectares of land.
First Milk members have committed to almost 131,000 field-level interventions across more than 78,000 hectares. More than 90% of members have signed up to the organizations’ regenerative program, representing more than 96% of its members’ milk.
Each have submitted plans for their farms, using a unique digital mapping tool with each intervention having to support one of the 5 key regenerative farming principles:
To date, data collected shows that:
The announcement followed a successful ‘Down to Earth’ regenerative farming event at Tim Downes’ Shropshire organic spring-calving dairy farm, which was organised by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers and attended by more than 1,500 farmers and 40 leading experts, who talked about agroforestry, soil health and grassland management.
Downes, who has been an organic livestock farmer since 1998, said the amount of grass being grown on his land was increasing year on year due to employing grazing paddocks after every milking, introducing lots of herbal leys, looking at different nutrient additives and amendments to encourage better grass growth, better mineralisation, healthier soils and healthier livestock and healthier product for the consumer.
Costs and turbulent markets
Keynote speaker Stephanie Race, founder and CEO of Earth Labs, said adopting regenerative farming principles could help farmers become less exposed to turbulent markets.
“Livestock farmers are faced with increasing costs of fuel, feed and fertiliser, that when coupled with more frequent extreme weather events, results in pressure on farm profitability. However, we should view this as an opportunity for regenerative agriculture to de-risk livestock farming to enhance soil health and biodiversity while creating the foundation for farm profitability through nutrient independence.”
Original article published in Dairy Global on August 23, 2022