AN innovative farming tour highlighted the importance of good soil management and health.

National Trust staff and their farm tenants spent three days together visiting innovative farms across the north of England.

The conservation charity’s ‘Farm Innovation Group’ brings trust farm tenants, estate managers and farming advisers together to explore new ideas in farming. This time the annual trip took a group of 40 people to look at farm businesses in Yorkshire, Northumberland, the Scottish Borders and Cumbria.

Organised by Deborah Crossan from Innovation for Agriculture, they met beef, arable and dairy farmers and an egg producer. All run successful businesses combining high quality production, resource protection, nature conservation and diversification initiatives. Innovation was demonstrated through new technology and revisiting traditional approaches to managing land.

“Showcasing exceptional farmers who are pioneering new approaches and sharing ideas with others is a great way for farmers to help each other. Soil is one of our most precious resources,” said Deborah.

The trip concluded with a visit to trust tenant Richard Park at Low Sizergh Farm, Kendal. Richard has been on previous tours and is an advocate of the format.

This time visitors heard how he is optimising forage production across 300 acres, farmed organically, to support his 170 dairy cows and 200 mule ewes. The farm’s grazing fields for cows are split into paddocks which are grazed on a 28-day rotation. Herbal leys have been established for nutritional benefit and nutrient cycling using species such as Chicory, Plantain, Timothy as well as Clovers and Ryegrasses.