About Organic Farming

Beginning in 2002, one field each year is being converted from conventional to organic farming. It takes two years to
`convert' each field and this period helps cleanse the land of previous chemical applications and prepare for the
organic crop rotation. Key to this is the planting of nitrogen-fixing clover to add fertility to the soil in the absence of
artificial fertilisers. After two or three years, the clover (and livestock that graze it) will have built enough fertility for
a crop of wheat to be grown. This will be followed by beans (a legume like clover), then triticale (a cross between
wheat and rye) before clover is planted again to add more fertility. We will look at the radical change in
management that is necessary to convert to organic production and discuss some of the implications.

What to look out for

Organic farming and the Countryside Stewardship Scheme are helping to preserve and encourage the wildlife on the
farm. Bumble bees benefit from the pollen and nectar planting and farmland birds such as lapwing, skylark and
yellowhammer are provided with suitable habitats. You may be lucky enough to see a reed bunting, a rare bird that
as the name suggests, needs tall reeds like those alongside the dyke to thrive. Rare arable plants are found along the
field margins, including shepherds needle which has become very scarce. As organic farming avoids the use of
artificial chemicals, we hope that these insects, birds and plants will increase as the organic conversion proceeds.

Organic farmers work by:

  • Building up a healthy fertile soil - the nutrients that crops take from the soil are replenished by growing clover and recycling natural wastes such as manures.
  • Creating a maintaining wildlife habitats - trees, hedges and ponds are established and managed to provide homes for birds, bats and insects. Many of these creatures feed on pests which damage crops.
  • Protecting the environment - the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides is avoided so there are no poisons to pollute water, soil and food chains.
  • Providing high standards of animal welfare - farm animals have access to fields and fresh air and are fed a natural healthy diet with no routine drugs or feed additives

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