A major, annual agriculture event strongly emphasised the importance of regenerative farming, as well as how government schemes can support and reward you for making the switch.

This year’s annual Cereals Event attracted over 450 exhibitors, around 20,000 visitors and features 60ha of working demonstrations of agricultural equipment, stands, business advice and specialist services covering the entire arable industry. The show also features over 200 live demonstrations, seminar programmes, and over 600 individual crop plots from 25 exhibitors.


An expansion of the government’s Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) actions is to be rolled out this summer and could help farmers to further implement regenerative farming practices, whilst still making a profit: visitors to the UK's largest arable farming event found plenty of practical advice to help them.

The arable event was held in Hertfordshire on June 11 and 12, with many farmers asking how SFI will work for a regenerative system and how they can make the most of it. The ‘Direct Driller @ Cereals’ stage tackled this in a panel session with Cambridge arable farmers Martin Lines and Georgie Bray sharing their own experiences on how to take advantage of the government scheme.

From left to right: Elliot Taylor, Martin Lines, Georgie Bray and Edwin Taylor talk 'regen ag' and SFIFrom left to right: Elliot Taylor, Martin Lines, Georgie Bray and Edwin Taylor talk 'regen ag' and SFI (Image: Agri-hub)

Both Mr Lines (UK chair at the Nature Friendly Farming Network) and Ms Bray (farm manager at RSPB’s Hope Farm) have concentrated on improving soils in the past 10 years, but that doesn’t mean they’ve turned away from heavier cultivation methods - nor has it made the SFI no-till option at £73/ha attractive to them.

“We are adding organic matter to try and improve our soils as best we can,” explained Ms Bray. “That doesn't necessarily fit in with direct drilling because we need to cultivate in the organic matter to fit with the farming rules for water. So, it's just thinking about all of those things.”

Farmers should also carefully consider their whole farm needs – including the wider environment - and not be overambitious, particularly with rotational SFI actions, said Mr Lines.

“If I commit a lot of land to a rotational action and then in a year’s time the wheat price goes through the roof, I’m not going to be able to put in a lot of wheat because I’ve committed to the scheme.”

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Mr Lines has seen a wealth of benefits from adopting regenerative agriculture. With 'regen ag' rising in popularity across the country, Herefordshire’s own ‘Regen Ben’, farmer Ben Taylor-Davies, remains our major local advocate for “breaking the boundaries of farming techniques,” and pushing forward this innovative approach to food production.

Ms Bray encouraged all farmers to adopt SFI options which baseline, monitor, and analyse data on things like soils and hedgerows, while Mr Lines warned that when it comes to tenanted land, it’s important to discuss what you’re trying to achieve, and which parties receive income from the SFI payments.

Elliot Taylor, farm business consultant at GWF, agreed: “Don’t let the SFI tail wag the dog - don't just go after the money,” he said. “It's important to look at the actions that can de-risk your farm and improve the most important asset – your soils.”