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Ben Jones is a member of our ABC Grower Group and farms 600 acres around Holt, Norfolk, in the east of England.

Since 2015, he has integrated regenerative farming practices into his arable system, with the primary goal of preventing bare stubble over winter.

Ben Jones part of the ABC Grower Group, Norfolk, UK talks cover cropping methods.

Fodder radish is Ben’s cover crop of choice, as the light land benefits from the plant’s characteristics. The radish has a deep root, which helps improve soil structure and quality and improves moisture and drainage control. The fodder radish’s PCN resistance also prevents the disease’s impact on the crop. After the malting barley harvest has finished, fodder radish is drilled in the first week of September at 8kg/ha and left to grow over the winter. In February, sheep graze the crop over three weeks.

Incorporating livestock is another important regenerative farming practice. It allows manure to integrate through the field as a natural fertilizer, adding to the nutrient content and reducing reliance on high-carbon nitrogen fertilizer. Ben also plants legume mix as a cover crop, which he drills at 15kg/ha under a two-year stewardship scheme. This encourages further habitat diversity within the farming system. Flagon malting barley will supersede this and benefit from the soil’s improved structure and drainage.Fodder radish in a field, this crop is Ben’s cover crop of choice

Ben samples the soils to test soil organic matter every year, and he has noticed a significant improvement since integrating cover cropTwenty 20 years ago, soil organic matter was as low as 1.5% in some areas, and measurements today are up to 3.5%. He has a keen interest in trialing more varieties of cover crops to understand the different benefits that other species can bring to the soil’s health and characteristics, as well as helping to increase biodiversity on his farm. He would also like to understand better the impact of seed drilling density on the cover crop quality.

Sheep feed on winter field crops to help the organic matter in the soil.

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