A HEREFORDSHIRE farmer has been recognised by the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) for his contribution to the land-based sector at the IAgrE’s annual award ceremony.

Describing himself as a ‘bioagriecologist’, Ben Taylor-Davies of Townsend Farm in Brampton Abbots near Ross-on-Wye, began to understand the benefits of integrating the environment with farming under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, by planting new farm hedges and creating six-metre margins for grey partridge and brown hares.

“Ben is an exemplar in practising what he preaches on his family farm in Ross-on-Wye," said Charlie Nicklin CEO of IAgrE. "He carries out on-farm trials to demonstrate to others that new ideas and concepts can be easily adapted and implemented on-farm for achieving results. He has amassed a large data base of regenerative and diverse farming practices and their outcomes for different soils and climates.


"His enthusiasm is infectious wherever he speaks, and the Institution wish to recognise how Ben promotes more sustainable farming practices based on both scientific principles and practical experience,” said Mr Nicklin.

Brought up on the family farm in Ross-on-Wye, Ben went to Liverpool University where he graduated with a BSc in Geography in 1997. Having graduated, he returned home, assuming he'd do what farmers' sons do and take over the farm. " Alas, he says on his RegenBen website, "on a visit home my father passed me a pile of Farmers Weekly magazines and told me to go get a job! Of course the back of the Farmers Weekly is full of jobs, most of which require years of experience or agricultural college degrees!"

He had neither but found two ads, one to join the research team of an Antarctic expedition, the other as a trainee agronomist for HL Hutchinsons.

"It was around this time I started having a large influence over the farm and we entered our first Countryside Stewardship Scheme and in the same year committing to plant 12 km of new farm hedges and create 6-meter margins for grey partridge and brown hares as well as many other management options that saw the creation of a few coppices, pollen and nectar mixes and wild bird seed mixes, as I began to understand the benefits of the environment and farming working together."

Amongst everything going on on the farm is the Chaos Garden, the principle of which is fairly simple, taking all the annual vegetable, salad and fruit plant seeds that you can find, mix them all together and randomly throw them all over the ground, rake them in to avoid bird, insect and small rodent predation and watch the whole chaos of plants grow all amongst each other.

With fellow Nuffield Scholar James Smith, a fifth-generation farmer, Ben also hosts a podcast, Farming for Change in which the pair chat about all things regenerative farming, rewilding, biodiversity, soil health and more.

On receiving the award from IAgrE President Steve Constable Ben said: “It is an absolute honour and I am thrilled to receive this award. Thank you so much for recognising the work I am trying to do in the regenerative sector.”