Agroecology conference builds sustainable farming

Hutchinsons is hosting its inaugural Agroecology conference, 8th November at The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands ...

Giving farmers the chance to discover how to make the most of regenerative farming practices to benefit the environment and the bottom line.

Agroecology: Making the Transition

Agroecology: Making the Transition will address many of the core regenerative agriculture principles, which head of Agroecology, Ed Brown, believes form the basis of good agronomy in a rapidly changing industry.

Rising costs, changes to farm support, and increasingly extreme weather events, have hastened the need to build more resilient production systems that harness natural processes and reduce the need for artificial inputs.

“The days of ‘high input, high output at all costs’ agriculture are numbered. The focus is much more about taking an holistic approach to farming and agronomy.”

Hutchinsons is helping farmers do this with the launch of its new Agroecology service, and November’s conference will be packed with practical advice about sustainable farming practices.

“Whether you’re a farmer that has already moved to a more resilient farming model, or are just starting out, the conference should have something for everyone.”


Speakers include Knight Frank’s Tom Heathcote, who is passionate about regenerative farming, and has helped a number of businesses transition to more sustainable farming systems, making him ideally placed to offer advice on business structuring and finance.

Soil health is widely recognised as a cornerstone of sustainable farming systems, so Hutchinsons Ian Robertson will explain the importance of understanding your soil before making any significant structural or operational changes.

Internationally-renowned independent researcher and regen consultant, Joel Williams, will also be present to offer a technical insight into his latest research.

Two farmer speakers, at different stages of their agroecology journeys, will be there too. Ben Taylor-Davies, aka “regen Ben”, will share his experiences from years of adopting regenerative practices on the farm at Ross-on-Wye.

While Harry Heath, who hosts the Helix Agroecology farm, will explain how he has tackled soil health issues on the Shropshire pig and arable farm.

“For us, we’ve gone through that early phase where we recognised our soils weren’t in the best of health, with significant slumping and erosion,” says Mr Heath. “We were massively over-cultivating, and with subsoiling in particular, we found the more we did, the more we had to do, to artificially create structure.

“But we are now well down the implementation phase, having converted to direct drilling five years ago.”
Cover and catch crops, grazed off by sheep or pigs, are integral to the rotation, improving natural structure through a diversity of root structures, while also feeding soil biology.

“Soil health and microbiology are always at the forefront of our decision making process,” Mr Heath adds. “The symbiosis that exists between the microbiology and the plant is vital and making sure we maximise that is integral to agroecology.

“But the key is to be openminded. To get off the conventional treadmill, you have to think differently, recognise it’s not all about the crop and continually question everything you do.”

Conference details

The Hutchinsons Agroecology conference will take place on 8th November at The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

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