Sharing best practice and innovation through championing farmers safeguarding their soils
As the International Year of the Soil draws to an end, the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit and Innovation for Agriculture are launching a competition to find the UK’s Soil Farmer of the Year.
This competition, which opens today on World Soils Day, aims to find farmers and growers who are engaged with and passionate about managing their soils in a way which supports productive agriculture, biodiversity, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and builds soils organic matter and carbon.
Sustainable soil management has great potential to be one of the cornerstones of a transformation towards a low carbon economy and farmers are at the forefront of this; being directly responsible for land management.
Soil and its management underpins the entire farming system. A healthy well – managed soil rich in organic matter will support productive and healthy crops and pasture, which in turn supports a profitable and resilient farming system that also sequesters carbon.
FCCT director Jonathan Smith explains more. “Soil is vital to all us farmers and growers and indeed all of society. When soil is managed well it produces healthy crops and/or livestock, whilst increasing biodiversity, holding water in the soil and sequestering carbon. The interest in good soil management is growing massively, but we want to showcase farmers who are really making efforts to implement not just good but excellent soil management. This can, and should be, an inspiration to all of us to do better with our soils.”
David Gardner IfA CEO comments 'Over recent decades our soils have been degraded and as a farming community we need to start rebuilding them. There is a huge amount of interest in soils amongst farmers at present and many are experimenting with new crop rotations, cover crops and alternative cultivation methods. The Soil Farmer of the Year competition will rightly reward one of these farmers for their commitment to leading an improvement in the nation’s soils.'
The competition is kindly being sponsored by Cotswold Seeds, who are offering £250 of green manure seed or fertility building leys to the winner, £150 to the runner up and £100 to the farmer in third place. CEO of Cotswold Seeds Ian Wilkinson says, ‘Soil health underpins every activity on the farm and many of our seed mixtures, such as herbal leys, are designed to improve soil structure and fertility. The soil is a vital resource so we’re delighted to be supporting an initiative that encourages farmers to give it the respect it deserves.’
The competition is open to any UK farmers or growers who are managing their soils in a way which optimises soil health and quality. Applications are being taken online through this link, where there is also more information on what the judges are looking for and the prizes available.
The competition opens on World Soils Day on the 5th December, and will close on the 4th February. After the closing date three farmers will be shortlisted to be visited by the judging panel before the overall winner is announced on the 3rd March.