Weston Park Farms aims to produce nutritious combinable crops and healthy livestock without tillage whilst minimising inputs, encouraging biodiversity on the land and creating opportunities with diverse enterprises.
We have been farming the land at Weston for 34 years and have moved from a plough and press system to max till, to min till. Then in 2010 we made the decision to drop cultivations altogether and go no-till.
The farm itself is mainly arable, we grow a range of combinable crops, using cover crops whenever possible (especially over winter). Herbal grass leys are integrated into the arable rotation which, along with the permanent pasture is mob grazed by the 140 strong beef shorthorn suckler herd and various mobs of young stock.
No feed is bought in, so the whole herd is pasture fed, either grazing in the summer or silage and straw in the winter. Fatstock are sold to Morrisons on the shorthorn premium and stores are sold through Thame market. No fertiliser is used on the grass, so the system is ultra low input. There is a spring and an autumn calving herd, with the majority of the heifers sourced through the home herd.
Diversification projects include a stock of residential and commercial properties, and there are 3 biomass boilers heating about half of the residential properties.
There are 250 acres of woodland at Weston from which timber is sourced for chipping for the biomass.
We were both trained at university and college in the 70s, when food production at almost any cost was at the top of the agenda. 1984 has been the best farming year in our farming lifetimes and commodity prices now have driven farmers to think again about how to produce food cheaply. This has led us to see that low input farming can link up with improved soils.
The motivation is still to be profitable, but also to pass on the soil in better condition than when we started, this being achieved by no-till on the arable, and use of herbal leys and cover crops and mob grazing on all the grazing land, be it arable or pasture.
We believe that farming needs to regain the moral high ground, and we now have a golden opportunity to increase the carbon in our soils (mob stocking and no-till do this) whilst reducing the carbon used growing crops and livestock (ditto).
Our greatest achievement to date: Groundswell, attracting a worldwide audience of farmers and scientists to a start up show on a farm in Hertfordshire, contributing to one of the most pressing debates of our times.
John and Paul Cherry, Partners of Weston Park Farms