The way we farm
Find out about our approach to regenerative agriculture
A sustainable approach
Regenerative agriculture – also called conservation agriculture – is an approach centred around improving and revitalising soil health.
Castleton Farm has been practising regenerative agriculture since 2018, following the five principles below.
Minimising soil disturbance
This helps support a healthy soil food web (the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil).
We now direct drill, or use a “no till” approach, where there is no ploughing before planting.
Maximising crop diversity
Different crops bring different rooting depths and attributes, supporting a range of biodiversity both above and below ground
Our crop rotation has changed to include legumes, lupins and beans. Growing these “break crops” improves soil organic matter and structure, provides pest and diseases breaks and increases soil nitrogen levels. These are harvested in August/September and sold as protein for animal feed.
Provision of constant soil cover
This protects soils from wind and water erosion and reduces water loss.
We grow cover crops over winter, including mustard, radish, phacelia and vetch, that aren’t harvested but the spring cereals are direct drilled into them.
The cover crops are planted before September and left undisturbed until the end of the year, when they can then be grazed off by livestock.
Keeping a living root in the system
Root exudates (fluids emitted through the roots of plants) benefit microbial populations, supporting soil health.
The crop rotations and cover crops explained above keep the soil healthy and make sure there are always a variety of roots in the ground
Integration of livestock
We promote species diversity, from microbes to mammals, and put dung back into the system.
Over winter, we have sheep in to graze off the cover crops, which in turn benefits the soil fertility.
Livestock on a living cover crop bite the plant, which then releases root exudates in order to regrow. That attracts soil biology that feeds the plant to grow even more, producing more root mass. As you increase organic matter, you’re going to have higher water-holding capacity, more nutrient cycling and more nutrients available for subsequent crops.
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