Testing the Water, Mob Grazing, Ploughing and Scattering

5/09/2016 04:55:00 pm , , 0 Comments

Testing the Water

Following our participation in last year’s Thames Water Blitz, organised by Wild Oxfordshire and Earthwatch, we again tested the water at Honeydale.

The tests determine levels of nitrate and phosphate and a range of samples were taken across the ponds, dams, stream and spring that comprise the new flood alleviation waterworks on the farm.


The nitrogen levels were high and the phosphate low, which is what is to be expected based on last year’s results. But we are fixing our own nitrogen with sainfoin, green manures and grass leys so will be monitoring levels closely now and we are confident that our new farming system will not be adding to the problem, and is a method that should, over time, help to reduce water soluble nitrogen in rivers.

Mob-Grazing Moving On

Now the electric fencing is all in place, we are moving the sheep, thirty ewes and sixty lambs, every day. It’s only taking about twenty minutes a time. After two weeks the sheep now know what to do, and and as soon as the fence moves and they can see their way open to lush ungrazed herbal ley, they walk on through, follow each other just like...sheep!

Mob grazing moving on
One maintenance job we have to complete every two weeks is mowing under the fences with the Allen Scythe to make sure the grass does not grow too tall to touch the wire and earth it.

We’re also addressing the issue of bringing drinking water to the different areas as the sheep are moved. We’ve installed a bowser with a 1000 litre capacity which is pumped full from the spring and we are awaiting delivery of plastic tubing which will be run in a loop around the field with branch lines into each area. All we’ll have to do then is move the small empty trough each day, and in the future when different fields are given over to pasture in the rotation, we can simply move the water pipe to the new areas. 

The Sheep have been enjoying grazing the Sheep’s Parsley in the Herbal Ley

We plough the fields and scatter….

Our arable fields were planted with Summer Quick Fix green manure which we over-wintered and ploughed a couple of weeks ago and have now power harrowed, rolled and planted with cereals; spring wheat, spring oats and spring barley. After sowing the spring wheat we’ve sown our standard mix of yellow trefoil and white clover under it as an intercrop. This will act as a soil improver and to be grazed after the wheat has been harvested.

Ploughing in Summer Quick Fix Green Manure in Arable Field Summer
Sam drilling spring barley next to sainfoin
Ring rolling after power harrow before drilling
Rolling intercrop with flat roller
Watering sheep
Rye/Vetch - Sown last Autumn
Allen Sythe


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