Over the next 18 months, farmers in Surrey, Sussex and Kent are opening up their farms to share how their particular approach to grazing sheep and cattle has helped protect their farm business from the crippling increases in fertiliser, feed and fuel costs, and mitigate the effects of the drought.
From grazing techniques to genetics, the farmers will demonstrate a range of approaches to working with cattle and sheep and the challenges and the opportunities that come with them. There are a wide range of potential benefits that include:
- Financial gain
- Improved pasture
- Increased biodiversity
- Improved soil health and landscape management
- Reduced (or removed) workload associated with indoor housing
- Reduced worm burden on stock
In addition, farming in this way should position the farm to be able to take advantage of any future government payments, whether ELMS or otherwise.
This FiPL-funded project has enabled 12 nature friendly farmers to be trained as mentors across Surrey, Sussex and Kent. They have a range of approaches to managing their sheep and cattle, though all have in common a 100% pasture-fed approach, with no grain or inputs, and have adopted some form of rotational grazing.
Programme Manager Deborah Barker says: “Without exception, the mentor farmers find that the way they now farm is more profitable than the system they inherited, that it has increased biodiversity and improved the health of their stock and pasture and made their farm business more resilient in times of extreme weather and spiralling costs. The experience has been transformative and they are keen to share their learning with other farmers whether they are just curious to see other approaches or are wanting to change how they farm.”
JOIN THE PROGRAMME
The programme is run by Pasture for Life, the 900-strong farming community that helps livestock farmers reduce their reliance on inputs and develop ecological and financial resilience through farmer-farmer knowledge exchange. Email [email protected] to be sent a simple joining form. You must be based in the High Weald, Kent Downs or Surrey Hills to be eligible.
“By joining the programme, you are not expected to become Pasture for Life certified, or transition to 100% pasture fed/ 100% mobile grazing. The programme aims to meet individuals’ needs and support their chosen system.”
Once you have registered for the programme, you can also apply to be mentored for up to a year by one of the participating farmers. The mentoring aspect of the programme is close to capacity for the High Weald, but organisers are keen to recruit more farmers from Kent Downs and Surrey Hills. Those farmers not initially chosen for mentoring will have opportunities in the future, whether funded by FiPL or not.
Signing up for events and farm walks
Once you have registered for the programme, you will be given access to our free events.
If not already a Pasture for Life member, by joining farmers will automatically receive free membership until March 2024 (worth £120). No financial details are taken and farmers can choose whether to renew PfL membership at the end of the programme.