Farrington Oils is pioneering its way through the no-till drill movement, putting LEADER programme funding of £26,800 towards new machinery.

Duncan Farrington joined his family as a fourth-generation farmer as soon as he’d finished university, where his passion for rapeseed and its benefits where born. In 2005, he launched Britain’s first ever ‘seed to bottle’ cold-pressed rapeseed oil. This was the birth of Farrington’s Mellow Yellow Oils.

As a result of Farrington Oil’s continued efforts against climate change, they have made history, creating the first ever certified carbon and plastic-neutral oil in the world. In a recent blog post, Duncan stated that if this technique and technology were mirrored across the world, “the benefits could be enormous; it has been estimated that agriculture could reduce global CO2 emissions by between 10% and 30%.”

It was in 1998 that Duncan and his family made the decision to stop ploughing their fields and they have been using traditional tillage cultivation and non-plough techniques since. This decision has increased the soil organic matter by 66%. The next stage for the farm was to reduce the need for man-made fertilisers and pesticides. Duncan wanted to achieve this by implementing a no till seed drill.

What is no till seed drilling?

No till seed drilling is a great way to keep nutrients in the soil and lower the environmental impact. This is because:

  • there is less weight of machinery on the ground
  • the movement of the soil decreases
  • the ability to directly plant the seed increases

This leads to less disturbance of the organic matter and overall better soil health. There is an increased water absorption, less water run-off, less need for fertilisers and reduced pollution.

The benefits of this are an increase in soil biodiversity and reduction in ammonia and emissions from the fertilisers. The ability to be able to strategically place fertiliser with three different types of seed will also decrease the amount of fertiliser used, around 60% less than conventional practice. The drill is also linked to the tractor’s GPS monitor; this self-drive technology ensures each part of the field is covered.

The technology doesn’t stop here, as the drill is linked to a laptop so that the farmer can create a map of the yield, soil health and seed rate for each field.

What does this mean for everyday farming? It allows areas of the field to be analysed. Areas which result in lower yields can be treated with more seed and fertiliser. Of course, this also means areas with high yields don’t need so much fertiliser. Over time, the farm will see a year on year decrease on the reliance of man-made fertilisers and pesticides.

Great for the farmer, great for the environment.

These aren’t the only benefits that Farrington Oils has seen as a result of its £26,800 LEADER programme funded project. They have also seen a sustainable growth in the overall business, with an increase in income, productivity and further employment. There are now 14 employees working on the farm, far exceeding their growth expectations for this year.

As a Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) supporter, Duncan has ensured that everything he has learnt from his own farm is shared with local farmers. This knowledge sharing is paramount to influencing and changing behaviours within the farming community. Duncan hopes to aid other farmers to improve their soil husbandry, he regularly rents his high-tech equipment to other local farmers and even sowed the seeds for a local cricket field last year. In the mission to continue this knowledge-sharing, Duncan hosted a Chinese delegation group with LEAF, including the Chinese Minister of Agriculture and UN delegate in September 2019.

To find out more about Farrington Oil’s environmental mission, visit www.farrington-oils.co.uk/leaf and their Mellow Yellow Range at www.farrington-oils.co.uk.

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