To maximise the impact of our activities, Sustainable Landscapes has always had a whole farm approach to sustainability. Working across the whole rotation as production moves from one crop to another from year to year developing farming techniques that improve soil quality and structure, at the same time improving water quality, biodiversity. These techniques not only can improve soil fertility reducing the crop’s fertiliser requirements but can also hold water up in the soil organic matter, reducing the impact of drought as well as helping with flood attenuation and reducing soil erosion.
To improve soil organic matter, through the programme farmers will look to grow cover crops to capture any residual nutrients left in the soil from the previous crop. This will reduce the potential for over winter leaching into the aquifers, and reduce the next year’s fertiliser requirement. These cover crops also draw down CO2 from the atmosphere help to sequestrate carbon.
We are currently developing the technique of companion cropping to further draw down carbon, reduce the dependence on bag Nitrogen and improve biodiversity across the whole field. Also, the team are developing the use of functional field margins, to supercharge bio-diversity and improve carbon drawdown.
The farmers will also look at ways of reducing their use of chemical Nitrogen, improve the utilisation of that Nitrogen, and “look to get more from less” at the same time improving profitability. FFSL recently ran a Masterclass event close to Driffield to explore ways to “ Make the Most of Manures”. This focused on the utilisation of organic manures to improve crop yields, reduce fertiliser costs and reduce pollution.