Integrated, sustainable farming: Sittingbourne

Past Event - booking closed

19 February 2019

10:00 AM - 1:30 PM

Hempstead House Hotel, London Road, Bapchild, Sittingbourne, Kent


At this business-focused event, hosted together with LEAF, we'll examine what 'public money for public goods' involves, and the possible costs and economic gains of an integrated farming strategy.

Our host farm, G.H. Dean/Blackbird Farming, has recently been launched as a LEAF Demonstration Farm.

In this unpredictable and incentive-driven climate, how can we sustainably reduce our costs while still ensuring yield consistency and increased productivity? What role does, can and should natural capital play in this, today and in the future?

With these questions in mind, we will examine the current strategies implemented by Blackbird Farming Ltd - a LEAF Demonstration Farm and AHDB Monitor Farm. Blackbird Farming is an arable, fruit and sheep business just outside Sittingbourne. It is an integrated business using cutting-edge technology and innovation to keep it on the front foot in an increasingly volatile market.

We will examine the thinking behind their management approach and then, through experts and group discussions, look at additional ways to enhance these methods in order to promote their overall business efficiency.

About the farm

Mark Bowsher-Gibbs is farm manager for G.H Dean & Co Ltd, a long established family business farming near Sittingbourne in Kent. A mixed farm of 1,760ha, the majority of land is under a five year arable rotation, predominantly wheat, oilseed rape, beans and peas. A flock of 1,524 ewes is kept on 468ha of pasture, much of which is in HLS and there are 192ha of orchards producing pears, cherries and apples. Specific areas of interest within the 1,100ha arable enterprise centre on strip tillage and crop residue management, soil microbiology, cover cropping and CTF. Soils vary considerably from clayey coastal flats to freely draining loams with some of the higher ground having a greater stone content overlying chalk.

Unless otherwise specified, winter meetings run from 10:00 to approximately 13:30 at Bapchild Village Hall, School Ln, Bapchild, Sittingbourne ME9 9NL, and include a light lunch.

If you are interested in attending the next meeting, please email Paul Hill, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Knowledge Exchange Manager, on