Farm Walk Claydon Drills 20th June 2023
To round off Suffolk FWAG’s farm walks we ventured over to the heart of Wickembrook for an exciting evening hosted by the Claydon Family. Our theme for this year is ‘Sustainable Farming Solutions’ and what better farm to highlight this than Claydon Drills themselves! Jeff Claydon being a third-generation farmer himself, has farmed his families’ land for more than 50 years. In doing so Jeff and his brother Frank Claydon have seen the symptoms caused by the failings of conventional farming practices and have found their own solutions to overcome this. Having already started to change the face of agriculture in 1981, Jeff was the first person to put a yield monitor into a combine to allow for grain and yield monitoring. Thus, allowing them to understand exactly what yields they were getting under different farming practices and chemical applications.
We began the evening with an exciting introduction by our very own Anna Beams who introduced us to the Claydon Family which comprised of Jeff, his brother Frank, and Jeff’s two sons Spencer and Ollie. Anna continued to give us an insight into the changing times for agriculture highlighting the need for farmers to take stock and prepare for the future. Concluding with the introduction to the new concept for Suffolk Drawdown which will be available in 2024! Drawdown is based on the Paul Hawkins book- Drawdown, which highlights 100 scientifically proven ways we can all start to reverse global warming. We were then captivated by Jeff’s inspiring presentation where we were introduced to the vast range of Claydon machinery which all play key roles in their farming system. Jeff then showed us where it all began- The Claydon Direct Drill. Having used this drill on his entire farm and seen first-hand what issues he then faced, jeff continued to create the Claydon system which comprises of their 4 main products: the direct drill, the hoe, the straw harrow and the newest addition the Terrastar.
Jeff also shared the key figures in the costs for crop establishment, average diesel usage and the all-important yields of quality wheat from the Claydon system as opposed to conventional farming practices. Jeff highlighted the importance of the Claydon family farm with the evolution of their equipment and system based on the new problems or symptoms they found having not ploughed an acre of land on their farm since 2002! Now 21 years later Jeff and his team are able to boast a staggering level of organic matter and worm populations within their stable soils!
Following Jeff we were joined by the whole team from FERA who have produced land-360, a product which uses geostationary satellites to accurately map an area of land to evaluate the natural capital within. Paul Brown and Glyn Jones gave a short presentation on their new product and followed this up with a quick demonstration of their mapping capabilities on Claydon’s Farm itself! Land-360 was able to quickly display the best areas on the farm for not only cropping but for natural capital and biodiversity. Paul and Glyn were then able to take this to the next level by being able to use this data to show us the likely outcomes, of different farming practices, schemes and new emerging markets to even project new potential profit margins! – A very exciting new offer we hope to open up to all of our members in the coming months.
We continued to have a guided tractor tour around the farm itself, which is comprised of 350 Ha formed in two blocks around their factory in the heart of Wickembrook. Claydon’s farm which is predominately strong Suffolk clay land displayed an abundance of flourishing crops, hedgerows and unique homes for nature. With the options to walk through the crops themselves, we found ourselves in a terrific field of spring oats which were clean tall and full of oats ready to ripen into a bumper crop. It was a brilliant opportunity for SFWAG members to see all the worm casters and exceptional soil health which Jeff and his family have restored.
Finishing up the evening with a delicious banquet of hog roast and home-made cakes, our members continued into the night to network, look at the stunning display of equipment in the grain store Some of our members seized the chance to have a factory tour with Ollie Claydon also!
Farm Walk Maple Farm 6th June 2023
Maple Farm is a 138 hectare Organic Farm with over 50 hectares of Woodland and 2400 Layer Hens owned by William Kendall and managed by Mike Mallet. Congregating outside their on-site Farm Shop, over 50 Suffolk FWAG members learnt how the business operates a ‘Farm to Plate’ approach through growing their own cereal crops which are milled into flour without leaving the premises, with by products being fed to the animals therefore enabling a fully sustainable production system.
Both William and Mike discussed the history of the farm and the establishment of the Agroforestry Division, primarily as a source of natural range cover for the layer flocks, without losing the arable ability of the field. Since 2014 when the first batch of 1700 trees were planted on the farm, Biodiversity has also dramatically improved as can be seen through the improved soil fertility, especially as the farm sits on heavy clay land prone to flooding. Further benefits have since included additional Diversification through the inclusion of Wood Fuel and Nut Tree Species.
Following the informative talks from William and Mike, SFWAG CEO Anna Beames closed off discussions through introducing members to the concept of Paul Hawken’s Drawdown Approach. In order to Reverse Global Warming, Hawken has developed a series of solutions of which Sustainable Agricultural Practices feature heavily, including the benefits of Conservation Agriculture and protection of Coastal Wetlands and Grassland.
With this in mind, members were introduced to new and innovative plans to bring Drawdown to Suffolk, enabling the County to become the first Natural Capital Friendly region within the UK.
With talks completed, guests commenced with the tour starting with the newly established agroforestry and arable combinations where we learnt how the benefits of Alley Planting have helped positively contribute to Improved Soil Fertility and Soil Structure. Discussions continued with the benefits of introducing livestock as well as current investigations into experimental combinations of arable and legume integrations as well as the re-establishment of heritage crop varieties. Members were also treated to an additional discussion with special guest and previous Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, George Eustice; where topics included the importance of Sustainable Food Systems and Farming Practices to help futureproof not only the UK Economy but also provide sufficient resources for Future Generations.
Continuing the tour, members viewed the farm’s poultry division where Mike discussed the importance of keeping a closed loop system especially during the uncertainty of Avian Influenza. The group also learnt how the farm select the best breeds and how they’re moving to sustainable feeding solutions including using by-products from the arable systems whilst actively avoiding the usage of soya and soya derived products due to their poor environmental credentials. Whilst also looking at the food production element of the business, the tour moved on to the Orchard which directly supplies the farm shop and includes traditional Fresh Produce as well as more experimental trials in order to keep up with Consumer Demand for more novel ingredients. Alongside the Orchard, members were also introduced to a selection of the farm’s 25 ponds and the involvement of Natural England for the Great Crested Newt District Licensing.
Before finishing and heading off for food, the tour concluded at the Milling Barn where members learnt how the farm processes the wheat from the fields into Stoneground Organic Flour which is then sold through the Farm Shop and select local retailers.
Back outside the Farm Shop, guests chatted and networked whilst enjoying Hog Roast and a selection of Crullers freshly made for the event by Pinch who operate next door to the Farm Shop using ingredients such as Eggs and Flour direct from the farm.
Suffolk FWAG Annual Awards 2022 – Hard Talk
John Pawsey, Shimpling Park Farm – The Tim Sloane Award
Glenn Buckingham, Helmingham Estate – The Suffolk FWAG ‘Peewit’ Award
The Suffolk FWAG Awards are dedicated to exceptional examples of Sustainable Agriculture: ones that aim to restore, protect and create high levels of Natural Capital in order to produce healthy nutritional food. Farms that actively seek to improve resource efficiency, nutrient management and drive carbon centric goals to reduce their overall impact on the environment. These farmers are also both pioneers, open to experimentation, tests and trials within production, relevant habitat creation and notable species conversation. Both farms go beyond the ‘haha’, beyond the boundaries of their own ‘farm gate’ in terms of knowledge sharing and actively promoting environmental agriculture, community inclusion and collaboration. The principles of integrated and holistic farming are clearly demonstrated within these award-winning systems including the role of the grazier within essentially arable systems and incorporate elements of Agroforestry foundations.
The Award Winners independently represent two of the most talked about farm systems today – Regenerative and Organic – each long established practices of over 20 years so, in many ways their journeys are proven evidence of the success and sustainability of investing in this direction of travel.
An evening of ‘Hard Talk’ with Glenn and John provided an opportunity to explore their individual experiences, trials and tribulations further with a ‘question and answer’ session featuring some of the most pertinent questions surrounding agriculture today.
The Overarching question was: How do we survive?
Primarily by Adapting – adapting to a post carbon world. Can we ween ourselves off our addictions to fossil fuels and our over dependence on agro-chemicals and still meet the need for food security and human well-being?
One thing is certain Health is Wealth – both for ourselves and for nature…
The impact of farming is clearly documented but it is only logical that the problem can also become the solution.
However, one of the major barriers to change especially within Environmental Agriculture is: the need for a consensus as to what farm systems best build carbon and biodiversity. Essentially Farming needs a Business Case to change, some of the economics simply don’t add up and experimentation is often deemed too risky – but mistakes and failure are almost an essential prerequisite for growth. Indeed a challenging situation within the context of today’s food system guarantees!. It clearly takes a lot of courage and tenacity to farm differently and the two winners provide great examples of how it can be done.
The evening concluded with special guest speaker, Glyn Jones, Chief Environmental Economist at FERA. The debate continued with a powerful rational for using the ‘transition’ to take stock and adopt a Natural Capital Approach beginning with guidance and insight on how to manage and protect your natural assets and the value of knowledge and ownership of farm data.
A business case for Food, Farming and Wildlife in co-existence.
Woodbridge Climate Action Centre
Expert talks, citizen science projects, local organisations and experts.
Suffolk FWAG’s Annual ‘Farm Walk, Talk & Eat Series 2022’
Framsden Hall, Helmingham Estate
1st July 2022
Lord Tollemache welcomed the members of Suffolk FWAG to the dramatic ‘cathedral-like’ Framsden Barn on the eve of 1st July. The barn is over half a century of heritage brick and wood, nestled within the ancient grounds of the Helmingham Estate and surrounding agricultural fields. A poignant setting to kick off SFWAG walk and talk series focussing on the direction and future of farming within the heart of Suffolk.
The Theme: ‘TAKING STOCK’. Natural Capital – It’s a Business Decision is a complex and often misunderstood part of environmental farming. The evening’s speakers explored and demystified the term, providing critical context and meaning from a farm business perspective and went further still in providing constructive tools to support the journey of healthy food production.
Anna Beames, Chief Executive of Suffolk FWAG believes farmers and landowners need a strong context and business case for today’s rapidly changing environment. The Natural Capital Approach provides a solution to both these fundamental issues. She believes the science led ‘systems approach’ of Natural Capital protects and promotes healthy, integrated farming; farming that coexists with nature whilst producing exceptional food. A farming system that truly delivers ‘public goods’ and food. They are not mutually exclusive nor do they have to be. This is the farming business case response to the independent Food Strategy Report.
Unfortunately, most movements, tools and strategies of well-meaning NGO’s and pop up ‘wildlife’ organisations do not respond or integrate current and future land use effectively. They operate a more ‘trade off’ strategy and are driving division and exclusivity further. This is less about collaboration and more about a hard line strategy for the land sparing agenda. We are not convinced this is progressive or indeed constructive.
Suffolk FWAG is one of the original and authentic organisations born from farmers with a deep understanding of integrated farming: consideration for both the environment and wildlife. Suffolk FWAG are keen to provide the right tools and support for the job ahead – tools with stretch and capacity to meet the needs of the journey towards sustainable agriculture. Carbon and biodiversity net gain need a critical context. Natural Capital Value provides this by enabling and empowering the farmer with knowledge for informed decision making. Land 360 provides a proven standard from systems led science. Employing this method integrates and responds to varying scales effectively. In short, it is an accomplished multi-dimensional model that considers food production and the potential ‘stacking’ markets of the near future. It is not exclusive to a farm type or indeed a farm cluster – a truly collaborative tool that can simultaneously value individual farms with context. It provides a backdrop and context for consideration of Stewardship schemes, SFI and ELMS along with integrated, regenerative, and organic techniques. This is not about exclusivity, land sparing or division – it is about true collaboration and literally ‘owning’ your decisions and farming futures.
The 30 year journey of the farmed estate was shared and explained by Glenn Buckingham, Farm Manager. He spoke of the early regenerative methods he employed over 20 years ago for soil protection and economics – echoing the situation we face today with increasing unsustainable input costs usually aligned to more conventional farming. The recently planted Agroforestry strips extended throughout the barley fields were explored further by Stephen Briggs, an experienced Agroforestry consultant and farmer who provided the ‘nuts and bolts’ to integrating trees both native and productive into the farmed system. A more multi-scaled and multi-dimensional way of farming. The method clearly provides extensive public goods (clean air, clean water, biodiversity, cultural and recreational value and nutritional food). More holistic farming actually repairs interrupted ecosystems and produces really good crop which incidentally appears to actually thrive under these conditions. Simultaneously, our reliance and over dependence on increasingly costly inputs is decreased and the building of Natural Capital Assets increases.
This is why it is so important to know your ‘value’.
Land 360 is a sound tool to do this.
After all fine works of art and antiques require a specialist valuation from Southerbys or Christies!
Farm Natural Capital are also ‘assets’ that require Valuation.
How can you know where you are going, if you don’t know where you are?
Your data is Your Value – It is an imperative business decision.
The evening continued into the species rich meadows adjacent to the barley rotations, where ‘the two majestic ancient sister oaks’ stand. This is where Glenn’s story of resilience begins, as these oaks have provided the off-spring acorns to the new agroforestry project. Similarly with the ancient maples and ash surrounding the estate. All local provenance, more adapted and resilient to the micro-climate of Suffolk and indeed the estate itself. Guy Thallon from FERA explained the benefits of Land 360 and the reason for the partnership with Suffolk FWAG – highlighting the importance of the ‘quality’ of natural assets not just quantity. Assessments illuminate effective management pathways constructively – decisions to restore, create or maintain within the fields and rotations not just on the edges and around the areas of production.
Jeannie Buckingham of The Tree Warden Network, extended the ‘tree theme’ into the orchards where a rich mixture of legacy fruit trees including pear and apple, both new and old are now actively managed. A welcome blend of history and modernity.
Stephen Williams of Ashton’s Legal provided an interesting synergy and a strong case for paying attention to your farm assets both tangible and natural when entering into marriage or cohabitation. Stephen advised on the virtues and benefits of a sound ‘pre-nuptial’ agreement!
The evening concluded with much digesting and cogitating over a barn feast under the dramatic skies of Suffolk. We look forward to our Suffolk FWAG Awards Evening in November when we will all meet again.
The Theme: ‘TAKING STOCK’. Natural Capital – It’s a Business Decision is a complex and often misunderstood part of environmental farming. The evening’s speakers explored and demystified the term, providing critical context and meaning from a farm business perspective and went further still in providing constructive tools to support the journey of healthy food production
‘In Field’ Natural Capital was highlighted by John Pawsey himself as he shared his journey towards truly harmonised agriculture. Agroforestry and the associated cropping plans were highlighted this year, by a strong and healthy crop of spelt. His experimental cover crop trials of vetch and lucerne are a continuous quest to find the best cover for claly soils and his rich sheep-grazed pasture showcased the virtues of a mixed, organic farm system where natural resource is harnessed and optimised.
Paul Read, who can only be described as the ‘Oracle of Orchards’ gave a wonderful account of the origins of orchards and the history of grafting from over a thousand years ago in Asia. The intrinsic value of orchards and wood pasture within the farm system was emphasise greatly, especially since Paul advised on John on his orchard from it’s inception over ten years ago. The Orchard includes traditional varieties on root stocks that allows them to grow into large fruit and nutt trees with ladders being required for the future.
Ashton’s Legal, unwavering sponsors of Suffolk FWAG and environmental agriculture supported the evening further with a poignant and levelling talk on the legalities of farm business and the importance of succession planning and tax considerations. The subject made easier to digest under the warm evening sun in the rich, sheep-grazed pasture Infront of the farmhouse.
The farm walk drew to a close with Guy Thallon from FERA under the ‘cathedral of beech tree’ woodland!
An integrated report with ‘stretch’ for all future farm markets from: carbon, to biodiversity net gain to ecosystem health and function whilst still producing exceptional food. This report assesses your true natural capital value, creating a critical baseline from which to measure change and inform environmental farm management decisions. An SOS for the blended finance markets of the near future.
A business case for Food, Farming and Wildlife co-existing, in harmony is being made.
Join us for the first showcase of Land 360 at Helmingham Estate, Framsden, Suffolk on the 1st July where the evening promises further generous helpings of knowledge sharing!
First Ever ‘East Anglian Festival’, Ethical Carnivore Panel Discussion
Against the backdrop of a looming culture war about the wisdom and desirability of eating beef, four experts brought their unique perspectives to bear on the issue. Louise Gray, the name of whose book furnished the title of this discussion, described how her experience of consuming meat only found or killed by her for two years, informed the way she thinks about meat eating. John Lynch, an environmental scientist, educated us about the actual (versus purported) impact of livestock farming on climate change. Hugh Somerleyton, rewilding advocate, explained his mission to reinstate East Anglia’s wilderness while Anna Beames, an environmental systems thinker, gave us a glimpse of the difficulties and challenges of putting natural capital at the heart of agricultural production.LEARN MORE
Farming Today, Fit for Tomorrow
Farming Today, Fit for Tomorrow – Virtual Forum held 19 November 2021
The Greenprint Forum has a vision for an East Suffolk where food is grown and farmed in ways that recognise the value of nature, minimise negative impacts, and maximise positive impacts on natural resources.
With guest speakers from:
Suffolk Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group | Oak Tree Community Farm
Maple Farm Kelsale | Peach & Pippin
Wakelyns Agroforestry | Fobbing Farm
Do you have the courage to change?
Water solutions via soil health for optimum production.
Interactive demonstration day & QUESTION TIME
With a panel of speakers from the water, soil and farming industries.
Wednesday 12th February 2020 | Hosted by Earlsway Farm – Bramfield, Halesworth
Woodbridge Climate Summit – 15th & 16th February 2020
Guest speaker Anna Beames.
Facilitation Events and Talks
Suffolk FWAG 2018 Agri-Environmental Awards Ceremony 2018 – Monday 19th November 2018
Mr. John Flatt at Ash Farm Partners
The Tim Sloane Award for Hedgerows
Suffolk FWAG Lapwing award for Mr Stephen Honeywood at Hall Farm for Pollinators
The evening was sponsored by Ashtons Legal with highlights from Tony Juniper CBE as guest speaker
download our pdf here
Suffolk: Carol Burney – Forest & Woodland, walk and talk.
Suffolk FWAG 2019 Awards for Excellence in Ecological Farming –18th November 2019
Paul Read of Home Farm, winner of the Suffolk FWAG, ‘Peewit’ trophy
S & G Flaxtead, Karen and Steve, winner of The Tim Sloane Award
The evening was sponsored by Ashtons Legal with highlights from Richard Young as guest speaker
The FWAG Silver Lapwing Awards, 17th June 2019 – Sponsored by Waitrose