Arable farmers who have suffered either from drought or water logged soils may have an unlikely option for improving their land if an enterprising young farmer ha his way.
Hertfordshire-based Tom Chapman believes that “mob grazing” by cattle could improve the organic levels in soils so that they have more capacity to hold moisture in dry weather and also more ability to absorb it in rain soaked periods.
Mob grazing is not a new fangled idea, he told the annual Nuffield Farming conference in Stratford on Avonn as it is based on the historic annual migrations of large herds of animals such as bison or wildebeest.
The modern idea is using large numbers of cattle with very high stocking densities in tight groups being frequently moved to new grazing. Chapman admitted that when he first saw the system, he was appalled at the amount of grass that seemed to be wasted through it being trampled down, he estimated up to 50 per cent.
But he said that recovery from this severe grazing was rapid and it helped build up natural fertility in the soil.
He admitted that most arable farmers would not be keen to get into beef production and that is why he is setting up a company that will provide a cattle grazing service for those crop growers who are not livestock farmers.
For the cereal farmer letting out land for mob grazing he believed the financial returns could equal those of conventional break crops.