Our diddy carbon reducing drill
Less carbon out more biodiversity in
We are always looking for way to farm more sustainably. As Duchy of Cornwall tenants farming within the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty we receive help and support to help us farm in a way that impacts the environment less or, if we get it spot on, in a way that actually improves the environment.
One of the challenges of farming on Scilly is that we farm on such a small scale. A lot of the machinery we use has to be adapted or designed specifically to work or even fit into our small fields. If we can get a group of Scillonian farmers together who want the same piece of kit this obviously makes it more cost effective. So we teamed up with Troytown Farm on St Agnes, famous for their ice cream, and Hillside Farm on Bryher, home of Scilly Chilli, and commissioned a direct seed drill from Jordan Engineering in Suffolk.
Direct drill, what's so special?
Conventionally if you want to put seeds into soil you would first plough the soil, sow the seeds in with a seed drill and finally, you might finish up by passing a roller over the top to ensure the seeds are covered. This process not only involves burning a lot of fuel as you cover the ground up to three times but the heavy work of turning soil that plough does is particularly diesel hungry.
The act of ploughing also disrupts the ecosystem of the soil and this in turn releases carbon that had previously been locked away or, to use a more technical term, sequestered into the soil. The new drill cuts fine channels into established grassland and delivers seed direct into the soil in amongst the grass. Thus reducing the need for heavy cultivation and severe disruption to the soil ecosystem.
We are using the drill with a leguminous herbal seed mix. This will increase the biodiversity of established pasture making it a better habitat for insects, more drought resistant and reducing the amount of artificial nitrogen that needs to be added. Looking into the future we hope that the amount of plants that naturally fix nitrogen in our grassland will increase to a level where we can stop using nitrogen fertiliser.