Friday, 12 October 2012

Overbury Farms - Now a LEAF Demonstration Farm

Well, what a day and what a week!  We are very proud the be the latest - LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Demonstration Farm.  The day went almost to plan, (the first rule of Integrated Farm Management IFM - Organisation and Planning) with the only thing not quite towing the party line was the weather, but this year, what else could be expected!  We all met up in the village hall at 2.30 for tea and coffee before heading out to plant our commemorative tree, an English Oak in the Oaken Wood field.  After some very kind words by Mark Tufnell, who officially launched us, on the enthusiastic approach that we have to farming, conservation and community engagement Caroline Drummond (LEAF-CEO) continued.  Caroline spoke about how LEAF works together with farmers integrating the many aspects of their business together to promote a sustainable farming future; how we need to balance food and the environment and how we engage with our local and wider communities.  Then I gave a quick introduction into the farm before heading off to the first stop.
In total about 80 visitors loaded up into the trailers to be give a tour of a part of the farm.  Here I was able to talk about our sheep enterprise and how we are managing the grassland to try and make them more productive.  How we are are using selective herbicides and forks to remove weeds from the pasture. Other topics covered included the electronic identification of the sheep and where the lambs go when they are fit for sale.  I forgot to mention about water sustainability as well, with rain water harvesting being used to water the sheep in the winter when they are housed, a slight oversight but I corrected that at the following stop off!

I was able to thank all of our sponsors at his stop were I spoke about the crops that we grow and how we cultivate and look after the soil.  Soil management and fertility is so important and this year is proving very difficult to get right (thanks to the weather). The event could not have happened without the generous support from Chris Tallis  Frontier Ag Molson Coors and Smiths Gore a big thanks all round!  Here we also spoke about precision farming techniques and how we are using them to reduce costs and establish our crops faster, more efficiently and cheaper whilst keeping our soil in a better structure and state of health.
At the final stop we spoke about the conservation projects on the farm and some of the options we're deploying to enhance and encourage habitat and wildlife.  We looked at the beetle bank sided with a pollen and nectar strip on one side and a winter bird food strip on the other.  Caroline finished of by thanking everyone for coming along and braving the drizzle which was never too far away on the day!  Back at the village hall Billy had prepared some pumpkin and spice soup which together with a local selection of cheese rounded the day off perfectly.

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