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Boosting Soil Health Across the Pond with No-Till, Covers, Intensive Grazing

Three U.K. growers use a variety of practices to improve the tilth and productivity of highly variable soils, manage soil moisture and hike the output of their pastures.


Pictured Above: NO-TILL WORKS. Jake Freestone says switching to no-till practices has provided “huge soil health benefits” on his 4,000-acre farm. “It’s enabled us to grow bigger and better cover crops that we can drill straight into. That is reducing our costs and also improving soil structure and organic matter,” he says.

(Editor’s note: This article is being shared from Direct Driller, a magazine covering no-till and regenerative ag practices in the U.K.)

Direct Driller magazine has been hosting a Soil Farmer of the Year competition for the last 5 years. The goal is to find, promote and champion farmers putting soil health at the center of their farm business management. 

This year the competition has been slightly challenging to run due to the COVID pandemic and the inability to conduct judging in person. The magazine’s finalists created videos detailing their individual farm journey to sustainable soil management, and they endured a virtual grilling from the judging panel to decide the results.

The top accolade this year was awarded jointly to two farmers — Jake Freestone from Overbury Farms, and Alex Brewster from Rotmell Farm. Both farmers have been doing amazing things around soil management in very different locations and settings. The third-place farmer this year was John Martin from Dorset, who has been working on soil management for over 20 years.

Here are some details about each of the winners as we celebrate soil health with farmers across the Atlantic. 

Jake Freestone, Gloucestershire, U.K.

Jake Freestone has been…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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