Sam and Becky Newington, Limden Brook Organic 3/3
Benefits to the farm
The biodiversity of the farm appears to make it feel healthy. Out in the fields, life is everywhere and the cows look well and content in the system. Involvement of the Wildlife Trust and other charities has given opportunity for groups to come tree planting and open up conversations with individuals about land management practices.
How do you monitor it?
We are part of GrassCheck, through which we record grass growth, forage samples and relative cattle weights. We are also currently in the middle of a study with ADAS looking at the difference between set stocked and mob grazing/rotational grazing, looking at the health and performance of the cows as well as soil samples and biodiversity on the area being studied.
Previously we have had a research student looking at bats and dung beetles, comparing groups of cattle under different management and we have a local bird enthusiast who keeps a count of what he’s seeing on the farm for us. We have begun to keep a record of other animals, birds and insects that we see although our expertise is limited!
What lessons have you learnt and would like to share with others?
Get out there and look at what you’re doing! The best things we’ve learnt are when we spend time with our cows, watching their behaviour and how they are impacting the land. We find leaving the vehicles at home when possible really helps with this and allows you to really see what’s happening and changing.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and trial new things, especially the slightly crazy ideas or the ones that don’t follow the accepted narrative. Sometimes ideas won’t work. Don’t be disheartened. Keep adapting and learning from having a go, especially if you believe the concept or the reasons for what you’re trying out are right.
Find like-minded people and create a strong network of idea sharing and support. This for us has been invaluable.
We also found that having a child helped us question what we were doing, mainly because he constantly questioned us! Irritating as it often is – sometimes the obvious and simple questions and suggestions are a key to opening up new ideas!