They initially moved from a plough and press system found in conventional farming, to min till. Due to their success, they made the decision in 2010 to drop cultivation altogether and go no-till. Since then, they have continued to implement regenerative farming practices.
The farm is 1000ha in size and consists of mainly arable land, growing a range of combinable crops and cover crops whenever possible (especially over winter). Herbal grass leys are integrated into the arable rotation which, along with the permanent pasture, is mob grazed by the 140 strong beef shorthorn suckler herd and various mobs of young stock.
There are 250 acres of woodland at Weston from which timber is sourced for chipping for the three biomass boilers that heat farm buildings and houses.
Their motivation is still to be profitable, but also to pass on the soil in a better condition than when they started. They are doing this by implementing 5 principles of regenerative agriculture; diversity, livestock integration, minimal soil disturbance, maintaining living roots and protecting the soil’s surface.
They believe that farming needs to regain the moral high ground, and they now have a golden opportunity to increase the carbon in their soils whilst reducing the carbon used when growing crops and livestock through holistic farming.
Their greatest achievement to date is Groundswell, attracting a worldwide audience of farmers, scientists and businesses to a start-up show on a farm in Hertfordshire, contributing to one of the most pressing debates of our times.
They are also using segments of their land to partake in regenerative agriculture experiments alongside Soil Heroes and Toast Ale. Their current trial is the integration of companion crops (legumes and wheat), a method unexplored in Western agriculture.
Brothers John and Paul Cherry were both trained at university and college in the 70s, when food production at almost any cost was at the top of the agenda. 1984 had been the best farming year in their farming lifetimes. 40 years later, commodity prices have driven farmers to rethink how they can produce food cheaply.
Paul’s son, Alex Cherry, returned to the farm in 2016, inspired by the shift to regenerative practices. He was heavily involved in the launch of the Groundswell Regenerative Agricultural Show and Conference and oversees the organisation of the show which takes place in June every year.
It is with pioneering farmers like the Cherry’s paving the way that we will be able to quantify the benefits of new practices through the use of their innovative mindset, and contribute to the evolution of farming knowledge through their much loved and needed creation; Groundswell.
Soil Heroes are thrilled to be working alongside them! If you’d like to find out more about our partnerships, get in touch using the link below.
Business Development, UK