Creating the perfect environment to grow grass

Past Event

Thu, 26 November 2020

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

a person kneeling in front of a herd of cows

Webinar recording

Join us for a webinar to hear how Tim Downes achieves grass growth of 11 t/DM per year on an organic system with careful soil management.

Since 2000, Tim and Louise Downes have run The Farm organically and work with the natural environment to get the best from their cows.

You’ll learn how Tim adopts careful pH management, timely aeration and herbal leys to improve his soil. He’ll share how he makes the most of his farm nutrients and is exploring how covering Farmyard manure (FYM) heaps could help.

Tim will be joined by James Bretherton from Agscope for a presentation and discussion covering:  

  • Tim’s soil improvement journey
  • How herbal leys improve mineral balance and herd health
  • Practicalities of covering FYM heaps plus the environmental and farm benefits
  • Nutrient management around the farm and effects on grass growth

Follow-up conference call

On Thursday 3 December at 12pm we will be running a follow-up conference call for a small number of farmers that have attended this webinar and want to engage in further discussion with Tim and James on this topic. Please email Emily.collins@ahdb.org.uk or call 07776 599778 if you are interested.  

About James Bretherton - Agscope

Based in the North West of England, Agscope was established by James Bretherton. After the previous 13 years spent in the UK Animal feed business and spending time in New Zealand. The whole Concept for Agscope is to link Soil to Plant to Animal – then ultimately us. They are all linked and therefore an overall approach should be the way forward.


About The Farm

The herd at The Farm is currently made up of 260 Irish and New Zealand based Friesian cows crossed with Norwegian Reds. Average yield is 6500L with 4% Fat and 3.4% protein. The Farm is made of up 365 acres for the milking platform and heifers, with silage and beef rearing ground across multiple other sites. The grazing platform mainly consists of Red and White Clover with Aber grasses that also include Chicory and Plantain where possible.
The Farm runs a spring block calving system with planned calving starting in mid February, with 72% calving within the first 6 weeks. Breeding decisions are data driven using somatic cell counts and milk quality as the current main drivers. They use sexed semen and beef straws and sell excess heifers once weaned. Bull calves are all raised for beef and sold to Waitrose.

The extended farm team includes Tim’s father and mother who look after the beef operations. Herdsman Sean McKay, Assistant Herdsman Taylor Corke and regular placements from Harper University.

Follow their story by visiting www.ahdb.org.uk/farm-excellence/the-farm or get the latest updates by searching for #SDFTheFarm on Twitter.

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