Our Progressive British Agriculture

Posted: 2 March 2021
Author: Mark Hurren

After some years out of working in the industry it’s easy to forget how much enthusiasm there is for progression agriculture. With the announcement of the new ELM scheme, the landmark Ag Bill and Brexit finally done and dusted there seems to be real buzz about being the first for British Agriculture.

With goals of Net Zero through regenerative farming and opportunities to sell carbon credits to our industrial partners, there is room for everyone to be involved no matter how many acres. Charlie Curtis who is a qualified Agronomist and Environmental Consultant shared with us her approach to making this accessible to farms of all sizes.

Charlie Curtis – Agronomist and Environmental Consultant

“Regenerative agriculture presents a new agriculture paradigm:  sustainable yet intensive crop production.  We are going to need to produce more with less – less land, less inputs, less actives while conserving resources, reducing impacts on the environment and enhance natural capital – all while the climate changes around us. It’s about taking farming beyond sustainability, we need to build a more resilient responsive farming system, a regenerative system that is both dynamic and profitable. For us at Progressive Agriculture Services it is really important that all farmers – no matter their size or what they crop – have access to knowledge and people who have had direct experience and successes in delivering regenerative farming activities.  We set up Progressive Agriculture Services to offer this resource, using our experience and knowledge working in this sector for over 15 years, both as a UK retailer and also on farms. Our aim is to see the whole sector move forward, not just the few.”

Covid-19 has put a strain on every sector, last year with it all being so new, agricultural shows were cancelled and opportunity to mingle and learn about new technologies and progressions in techniques were pushed to just the farming press and online research. However even in a few short months we have adapted with webinars, summits and online events. Shows this year are going ahead in the new normal being accessed online and once again the industry takes it in its stride.

I wanted to highlight from a slight outsider’s perspective how important the cultural change around regenerative farming and sustainability is. Working in recruitment and business support we are the lucky ones talking to clients and candidates alike who are at the forefront of this progression. Whether it be farm advisory and management businesses, who are changing tact and looking at bringing in Environmental Consultants to advise on how best to become carbon neutral and support their farmers on applications for grants and funding. Or PhD graduates with vast knowledge on the vertical farming and hydroponic farming sectors. We are surrounded by their knowledge and enthusiasm to get there first. Our multicultural Britain brings brains from around the world all keen to help our development, and sometimes keen to move away from their own countries practices that aren’t environmentally friendly.

Paul Christian MD is working towards this with Sentry Ltd. Which is an employee owned Agricultural & Rural Advice Business, based in Suffolk with a footprint across 12 counties.

Paul Christian MD – Sentry

One of our core values is to be custodians of the land under our management and that starts with the soil. The gradual shift we took towards soil health and care put us in a strong position to adopt the market driven rapid changes over the last 4 years. With the majority of our combinable crop land now farmed under various no-till systems and with cover crops and livestock featuring more heavily we are building resilience year on year. In reality we have only scratched the surface of where we think this journey will take us. Producing 350,000 tonnes of food annually we consider that to be a very good source of healthy, fully traceable and potentially local food, most grown to pro-environment specifications under our brand of Locally Produced by Sentry.

Another valuable element of Sentry is that our farming is operating in parallel with our Sentry Business Solutions colleagues who both advise and analyse rural business performance from whole farm business appraisals down to the inputs cost per tonne of food produced. The outputs from which are used to benefit our clients, the environment, corporate business and the wider British public.

Sentry Business Solutions environmental offering provides a full package to support and engage farming businesses at this critical time of our custodianship of the British countryside. Critical, to the global fight to save our planet and for the mental wellbeing of an emerging generation who seek new experiences in a countryside landscape they have lost touch with. This can be achieved by helping corporate businesses meet net carbon zero and social responsibility goals and working with landowners to provide increased habitat creation, facilitating the provision of affordable housing for a growing population. Sentry are uniquely placed as we have capability to provide the following services enabling a streamlined approach. 

  • The land/ habitat asset 
  • Project planning 
  • Environment Assessment 
  • Practical management 
  • Habitat creation 
  • Continued monitoring in house  

Despite the obvious headwinds this remains a very exciting time to be in agriculture”

There will always be the stigma around farming being one of the primary causes of our greenhouse gas emissions, when only 10% of the UK’s comes from our sector. However this is a lack of knowledge from general public and the farming community are a front running industry to support the climate change issues.

From our perspective, we see new and old talent in every aspect of the agricultural industry leading the way for the rest of the world. Whether it be fruit picking robots, software to trace livestock movements, satellite mapping for high yielding cultivated land, poultry farming becoming more self-sufficient and sustainable we are proud to be here supporting the solution using our platform and network to partner these minds with the industry leaders.

There will always be the stigma around farming being one of the primary causes of our greenhouse gas emissions, when only 10% of the UK’s comes from our sector. This is just pure lack of knowledge from the keyboard warriors but is also a new industry trying to push their way into the forefront of young minds, and our ever-changing diets are at the heart of it all.

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