DAERA Launches Regenerative Agriculture Tour To Scotland

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced a new initiative for arable farmers in Northern Ireland to travel to Scotland to learn about alternative methods of crop establishment and the adoption of practices to improve soil health known as regenerative agriculture

According to DAERA, a shortage of skilled labour, increasingly larger areas under cultivation and shorter suitable weather windows for drilling has resulted in more farmers looking at alternative ways to establish cereal crops to the commonly used plough, and one-pass power harrow and drill system, common place across Northern Ireland.

Whilst the one-pass performs reliably across the majority of soil types and circumstances, advances in cultivation and drilling technology mean there is now a wider range of non-ploughing crop establishment options which can offer greater throughput plus potential longer term soil health benefits. A successful change in establishment system requires more than just investment in a new drill, growers have to be willing to make changes to current farm practice to avoid potential pitfalls.

The tour will include visits to three arable growers in Perthshire and Angus who have been using different minimum tillage and direct drilling techniques for a number of years under differing circumstances. There will also be a visit to the James Hutton Institute Centre for Sustainable Cropping and long term tillage platform trials.
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This study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The areas that will be studied in more detail on the trip include:

• Identifying farm factors in achieving successful crop establishment.

• Looking after the Soil and regenerative practices to improve soil health.

• Using IPM principles to develop sustainable rotations.

The group will leave from Belfast City Airport on the morning of Tuesday 5 July and return on the evening of Wednesday 6 July 2022. The tour will be led by CAFRE crops Advisers.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of a farm business that has grown at least 3 ha of arable crops in any one of the last three years, 2020, 2021 or 2022, is over 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education. To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return. Fifteen places are available and these will be allocated on a competitive basis.

The Farm Innovation Visit Scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland and meals when in Great Britain. Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs, including farm relief and travel insurance.

Applications close at 4pm on Friday 27 May.

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