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Sustainable Landscapes

The Sustainable Landscapes programme, launched in July 2018, brings together groups of forward-thinking arable farmers to explore sustainable farming practices that will positively benefit soil health and ultimately improve water quality in specific river catchments. Working in close association with Yorkshire Water, three pilot study areas were selected to demonstrate how well changes in soil management could improve major issues surrounding water quality. The three study areas provide a unique platform for demonstrating and developing practical methods of regenerating soil. Lead by innovative, progressive, dedicated farmers, these pilot areas are championing techniques designed to safeguard water quality, farm productivity and environmental values.

Good Soil Guide

Graham Potter farms 500 acres at Topcliffe near Thirsk. He grows wheat, barley, oilseed rape and a small amount of fodder beet. Graham is a huge enthusiast of precision farming techniques and has embraced much of the very latest technology enabling him to farm efficiently and profitably, whilst at the same time reducing his impact on the environment. He has also been intrumental in pioneering cover cropping and establishment technques.

Graham Potter
TOPCLIFFE
Good Soil Guide

Dave Blacker farms around 890ha on a mix of family-owned, rented and stubble to stubble contracts based at Shipton By Beningbrough, just north of York. His current rotation is wheat, oilseed rape, wheat and spring beans. David grows feed wheat, chops all his straw and is using cover crops to improve soil structure and add organic matter to fields before spring beans. David is particularly interested in precision farming and improving his soils organic matter and structure.

Dave Blacker
SHIPTON BY BENINGBROUGH
Good Soil Guide

The Hopwood family farms Clock Farm and Grimston Grange near to the villages of Heslington and Dunnington in the Vale of York. Julian Hopwood and his sons are the current custodians of the land. Situated just 8.5m above sea level, the soil ranges from blow-away sand to medium loam. They farm 242ha of combinable crops on a seven-year rotation, now focusing on, oilseed rape, winter wheat, winter and spring barley and also spring beans which go for seed. There are also stubble turnips on the light land which a local farmer’s sheep graze off.

Julian Hopwood
ELVINGTON

Sustainable Landscapes Pilot Areas 

1. Topcliffe

Located 5 miles to the south west of Thirsk and adjacent to the River Swale, the Topcliffe Pilot Area is part of the catchment which eventually flows into the River Ouse, entering the North Sea via the Humber estuary. The Pilot Lead Farmer, Graham Potter, farms in partnership with his father Terry at Baldersby Park where the river forms one of the farm boundaries. The Pilot Area has 15 farmer members, most of whom undertake arable farming activities close geographically to the Pilot lead farm.

2. Shipton

Located to the North West of York, the Shipton by Beningbrough Pilot is led by David Blacker who is based at Church Farm in the village. The land tends to be slightly heavier than farmers experience at the Topcliffe pilot further north, however similar crop rotations are undertaken. Geographically, the Pilot Area is located close to the River Ouse and David’s farm is bordered at one side by Hurns Gutter; another small tributary leading into the Ouse. The Pilot Area has a wide-ranging membership of farming individuals with some members undertaking beef & pig operations, sharing knowledge alongside arable specialists.

3. Elvington

Situated to the south east of York, the Elvington Pilot Area is centred at Grimston Grange in Heslington which is the family farm of the Hopwood family. The Pilot Farm sits equidistant between the River Ouse to the west and the River Derwent to the East. The Pilot Area is within a zone of particular importance in terms of surface water management; Yorkshire Water have treatment facilities four miles away at Elvington where they extract water from the River Derwent prior to treatment and onward distribution elsewhere in Yorkshire. The Pilot Area has 12 members, all of whom farm in the surrounding area with potatoes, carrots and other root crops included within the rotation in addition to the commodities grown in the other Pilot Areas.

Good Soil Guide

The Sustainable Landscapes intitiative is a collaborative, landscape-based programme initiated by Future Food Solutions in partnership with Yorkshire Water. Working closely with farmers, the programme aims to improve the health of farmland soils, by encouraging the use of cost-effective, practical, soil management techniques that bring benefits at farm and landscape scale to create a more resilient and profitable agricultural industry

  • CHAMPION INNOVATION - Ensuring that soil quality is measured, valued and improved by accessing novel technology that uses key inputs effectively. 
  • WORK COLLABORATIVELY - Encouraging collaboration and knowledge exchange for the benefit of both the landscape and food supply chain partners.
  • MANAGE WATER EFFECTIVELY - Learning from best practice to improve the water holding capacity of soil, build resilience into crops, reduce leaching and minimise erosion.
  • PROFIT FROM SUSTAINABILITY - Managing farm resources efficiently, improving the resilience of the landscape and supporting commercially viable businesses.
Good Soil Guide

Driven by Farmers

The Sustainable Landscapes initiative was designed by farmers and industry experts working together to deliver practical soil management options that bring benefits at field, farm and landscape level.

Good Soil Guide

Practical by Nature 

Demonstrating how different cultivation, cover crop and soil management options can be implemented, and monitoring the effects of these options on soils, crops, water and wildlife, sits at the heart of the project. 

Good Soil Guide

Targeted by Design

Having clear soil, water and agronomic targets ensures that every action is carefully implemented, monitored and assessed, so that every positive improvement can be clearly identified, refined and developed.

MOTIVATION

Good Soil Guide

“Keeping soils healthy and where they belong is good for the environment; the resilience and profitability of farming and improves the water we treat for our customers. Sustainable Landscapes is a platform to share, develop and implement best practice within and by the farming community. We believe it has the potential to make a real difference where everybody wins, not least the environment”.

Andrew Walker
Catchment Strategy Manager, Yorkshire Water
Good Soil Guide

Sponsors

The Good Soil Guide is designed as a platform for discussion, innovation and technical support for farmers seeking to adopt regenerative, sustainable, environmentally positive soil management practices, and has been made possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors.  

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