On the 23 June the NFU organic forum held its first ever virtual farm walk, hosted by former forum chairman John Pawsey, which attracted a record number of 115 attendees. The virtual farm walk was to replace the three on farm events that the organic forum planned to hold during the summer. The forum has been holding these events with guest speakers for the past couple of years. Last year the forum and other NFU members visited Sandringham, Strickley Farm in Cumbria and Pollybell Farm in Doncaster.
This year the Microsoft Teams online event was open to members and non-members. As a result, 170 people registered their interest, including farm groups from Ireland and Uganda.
The event kicked off with an update from NFU combinable crops advisor Chloe Lockhart. Chloe talked about how practices in conventional and organic farming are coming closer together, with conventional farmers taking tips from organic methods in recent years. She also discussed Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and mentioned the benefits of introducing livestock to a rotation.
This led nicely on to John Pawsey’s virtual farm tour. This was a pre-recorded video that took viewers around his 650-hectare farm that has been converted since 1999. John also farms another 900-hectares organically. Mr Pawsey talked through his six year rotation that includes two year grass and clover leys, a winter cereal, a spring cereal, winter beans and spring barley. John also discussed his use of mechanical weeding and the re-introduction of livestock to the farm. At the end of the tour, John went on to talk about his carbon emissions and sequestration. Farming organically for twenty years has increased the organic soil matter dramatically, resulting in Shimpling Park Farm being Net Zero.
The event finished with a Net Zero discussion from Mark Wycherley, NFU organic forum vice chair, who updated the attendees on the progress of the NFU’s aspiration for net zero agriculture by 2040. The audience raised many questions to both John and Mark about carbon calculators and the future of the bio-economy.
You can watch the full recording below. If you have any questions relating to the discussions at the event please email the NFU's food chain team at Zm9vZGNoYWluZm9jdXNAbmZ1Lm9yZy51aw==.
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