SWFC is helping Kiki and J J Willcocks of Tregleath Farm in Cornwall, who supply milk to Trewithen Dairy, to explore regenerative management techniques
Following on from the recent article in the Western Morning News featuring Francis Clarke of Trewithen Dairy and SWFC’s very own Tom Tolputt, we thought it would be interesting to feature one of the farming families we’ve been working with who supply milk to the award-winning Trewithen Dairy.
Whole farm assessment
Kiki and J J Willcocks (above with their daughter, Ellie, centre) farm at Tregleath, a 360ha dairy farm situated between Bodmin and Wadebridge in mid-Cornwall. The farm has a 300 mixed-breed autumn calving dairy herd, including replacements, averaging 7,500 litres per year. The farm is a mix of temporary and permanent grass leys along with cropping – including spring barley, winter wheat and maize.
Over the last 18 months, SWFC has been working with Kiki and J J to assess the current farm situation and advise on adopting regenerative management techniques. The entire farm has been soil scanned by Precision Decisions with extensive soil samples taken to determine soil type and levels of pH and soil organic matter, as well as a range of nutrients, including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and manganese. In addition, the farm’s carbon footprint has been calculated using the Farm Carbon Toolkit.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the combined soil scanning and soil sampling results showed that fields close to the main dairy – where they’re more likely to apply slurry and manures – had better nutrient levels than some of the more off-lying ground. Of more interest, however, was the fact that the scanning and sampling process revealed markedly different levels of nutrients even within individual fields. A broad overview of the phosphorus mapping is shown below as an example:
Phosphorus mapping overview
Next, SWFC provided detailed practical advice to J J and Kiki on making the best use of all the information from scanning and sampling to target nutrient applications across the farm, as well as looking at the types of inputs they are using with the aim of transitioning to more sustainable and soil friendly fertilisers.
Building soil organic matter
A key objective is to build soil organic matter over the next few years by reducing tillage depth, reducing aggressive cultivation, changing and adapting fertiliser policy (as above), bringing more diversity into the rotation and into the cropping and, finally, by improving soil resilience by increasing soil biology levels.
As part of this plan, SWFC is also providing practical advice on the establishment of diverse herbal leys – something J J and Kiki have tried in a couple of fields to date. As well as changing tillage depth, we have also advised them to ensure that all cultivation and rolling takes place across the slope instead of up and down to minimise the risk of possible runoff and nutrient loss. In the longer term, we also intend to help them trial undersowing maize crops with grass alongside the other changes to crop operations.
A long-term partnership
This is the first stage in a long-term working relationship with Kiki and J J and the Trewithen Dairy team. The transition to regenerative management is progressive and ongoing strategic monitoring will demonstrate the effects of changes, as well as further identifying and targeting those fields and areas of management that need most work. We hope to be able to report more on J J and Kiki’s progress in future.
Can we help?
SWFC’s aim is to have an ongoing relationship with farmers like J J and Kiki, so we know the farmers, farm, the livestock and the management approach. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about our services for your farm.
Main photograph of (l to r) Kiki, Ellie and J J Willcocks courtesy of Trewithen Dairy