Well, so far, our organic farming system is holding up remarkably well in this extraordinary run of summer weather. I was talking to Helen last night, having been wandering with my camera, and she reports that the dairy cow boss Teo is amazed at how well our grass is holding up, despite the lack of rain. Admittedly it’s a bit parched looking in places, and the silage isn’t quite as heavy, but compared to our conventional grass growing neighbours, we‘ve got lots of it. Not being smug, but we think it’s because our soils are in much better condition—our methods, more muck all the time, livestock rotation, reduced tractor work, fewer combinable crops, ensure a higher organic matter in the soils, better soil structure overall, so good moisture retention; clover is the basis of our grassland, and it’s better at coping with extreme conditions. So while we might run short of growing grass at some point, we’re quite well placed relative to others.
And our few combinable crops—wheat, oats for example—are amazingly clean—by this we mean the weed burden this year is light. Every year brings a different ‘weed’ problem—last year it was poppies, which were beautiful and effectively more a plus than a minus; this year the plague in certain places has been thistle. Some of the fields have been a mess, but we’ve now topped them just before flowering, and it should stop them in their tracks. Some thistles are majestic, though—look at the ones in Eastbrook Valley, thistle royalty; and the blue spherical headed ones in the pub garden are also a real treasure. TF
Clover … and pigs loving it.