We recently caught up with Dan Herdman at Acton Farm, a hill farm in Northumberland, with over 1200 acres running around 600 breeding ewes and 30 cattle.
Dan uses Soilmentor as part of Regenerate Outcomes, an organisation that helps farmers create revenue streams from the generation of carbon credits and payments for other environmental services on their farm. Regenerate Outcomes offers advice through a mentoring programme which promotes and supports the transition towards regenerative agriculture.
As part of their mentoring, Regenerate Outcomes works with advisory groups such as Understanding Ag and 3LM, a support network aiming to provide advice to farmers on how to reduce input costs, improve plant and animal health and increase profits through harnessing biodiversity on their farms.
Regenerate Outcomes helps their members to baseline, monitor and track changes in their soil health, carbon profile and other positive environmental impacts from their farming methods. To assist with this data collection, Regenerate Outcomes farmers such as Dan are offered access to Soilmentor, alongside their soil coaches, who can access each farmers’ account to give advice based on observations made and soil health results collected.
Historically, Acton had been farmed organically, however in 2013, after 15 years of organic treatment, the farm transitioned to more conventional methods of grassland management, using nitrogen fertiliser to accelerate sward growth, but struggled to make this profitable. Two years ago, inspired after visiting a friend’s farm, Dan decided to start experimenting with more regenerative methods of grassland and livestock management on 100 acres of his land, including planting species-rich herbal leys and implementing mob grazing strategies. This involved moving livestock onto fresh pasture everyday, allowing a minimum of 30 days recovery and leaving one third of the grass standing to build soil health and improve pasture quality. Now in his second season of mob grazing Dan has really started to see the results!