A Feather Down farmer in the vanguard of tackling climate change
Moor Farm outside Gloucester is one of our most popular farms. A key reason for that is the infectious enthusiasm for regenerative agriculture that Richard the farmer practices there.
We caught up with him earlier this month to find out more about why his approach to farming is both good for the planet and popular with our guests.
Q. What is 'regenerative agriculture'?
What we practice here at Moor Farm is called 'regenerative agriculture'. It's different to organic farming that focuses on cutting out chemical fertilisers and feed additives for livestock to bulk them up. Regenerative agriculture seeks to meet the challenge of climate change by rebuilding the soil itself and reverse the degradation caused by those chemicals.
Q. What do the results look like in terms of the food you produce?
What you get is not just a healthier soil but healthier crops and animals. Did you know the food we eat now is only 40% as nutritious as it was in the 1950s? That can't be right.
Q. If it's so good for us and for the earth, why isn't everyone doing regenerative agriculture?
Over 60% of the land in the UK is rented from a landowner, usually to the highest bidder. So there is a short term focus on making a quick buck and throwing as many chemicals at the land to increase its yield. With regenerative farming you need to be in a position to take a long term view, which we are lucky enough to be able to do. The result is you get healthier animals, lower vet costs and less fertiliser. What's more, machinery and fuel costs are lower as you are not going up and down the field all day.
Q. What does regenerative agriculture mean in practice?
Nothing revolutionary, is the short answer. No or low tilling to avoid breaking up the soil, good old fashioned crop rotation and keeping the margins of your fields as wild as you can. These are just some of the tools in our tool box.
Q. Finally, what can a Feather Down guest expect to see as a result of the way you farm?
More wildlife, to put it quite simply. The families that stay with us get the chance to see many species of orchid growing, three species of woodpecker and rare birds like cranes and goshawks. All the sorts of thing you are more likely to see on a nature reserve than on a farm. The key to all that thriving nature is a healthy earth. It's the most vital asset we have. Squander that and we will all be living in a much worse place, literally.