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Getting in to regen - a Q&A with Jake Freestone



Meet Jake Freestone, who manages Overbury Farms and is a well-known spokesperson and communicator on regenerative farming through YouTube, Twitter, BBC Radio and the Green Farm Collective. He’s won various awards for the work he is doing and here shares what he’s learned as he’s channelled a regenerative approach into the farming systems at Overbury. 

 

Why did you get into regenerative farming? 

It was economic really to begin with. Around 2010, grain prices were low, we could see government subsidies reducing, the cost of establishing crops was high and margins were tight. The most obvious route I could see was that if we burned less diesel, we’d spend less. 

 

How did you take the first step? 

It was in 2013 when I was doing a Nuffield Scholarship on breaking the wheat yield plateau in the UK that it all became much clearer. I was looking at genetic improvement through modification, new fungicides…but actually it became obvious that what mattered more was varietal gains, variable seeding and nitrate. If fungicide was giving an x% increase, we should be growing much more hectarage than we are. I became much more aware that there was an alternative farming system. 

 

When in Oklahoma, I saw fields on one side of the road that had been conventionally farmed for the last 20 years, and on the other, fields that were regeneratively farmed and where water was soaking well into the soil. By managing soil responsibly, we can deal with too little or too much water. I started obsessively reading and following experts across the world, and in 2015, our first no-till drill arrived from New Zealand. 


What have you learned? 

I’ve learned a lot through trial and error and continue to do so. You can’t use no till in isolation. You need to combine it with cover cropping and livestock to get the results.

Cover cropping has been an interesting one....

 

To read the full interview with Jake, on what he's learned, his biggest mistake and his big vision, as well as other exclusive content become a member today.


Jake Freestone manages Overbury Farms, part of the wider Overbury Enterprises Group in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. He is deeply committed to farming practices that enhance the land’s wildlife and biological life Jake loves telling the story of why farmers do what they do. He's a keen YouTuber and can regularly be heard on Twitter, BBC Radio 1, 2 and 4.


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For Jake’s insights on the role of earthworms in soil, click here

 

Find out more about the barn owl chicks and boost to birdlife at Green Farm Collective Farms.

 

Want to become a member? We set up the Green Farm Collective to support other farmers to adopt a more regenerative farming approach on whatever scale and at whatever stage they’re at. The mission is two-fold: to sustain the farm through regeneration, with a view to also building in financial reward for the work we are doing to enhance carbon capture and biodiversity to help compensate against the loss of BPS. We openly share what we are doing with integrity, acting as a trusted voice for farmers. We are currently working on a constitution for growing regenerative food that we would like to see in the future provide an assurance for consumers who want to select healthy, nutrient-rich foods grown from this source. Join now.

 

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