World famous for its rewilding in West Sussex, this year Knepp turns its attention to regenerative farming as the next frontier of ecological restoration.
The Knepp Estate in West Sussex could be described as the black sheep of rural Britain. It’s no stranger to doing things differently and showing the rest of the country that different is not only good, it can be transformative.
Originally Knepp was a traditional farm like any other, but after years of struggling to make ends meet with arable and dairy herds, they embarked on a ground-breaking project to rewild the land in 2002, made famous by Isabella Tree’s book Wilding.
Knepp showed how environmental conservation of the land not only restored its depleted ecosystems but also brought in revenue, producing organic, pasture-fed meat, as well as the launch of a tourism venture, Knepp Wildland Safaris and Camping.
But they haven’t stopped there.
This year the estate has launched a regenerative farming project on 150 acres of adjacent farmland to show how farming can be financially viable, working with nature to deliver many benefits. As Russ Carrington explains: “The vision of this project is to deliver multiple ‘public goods’ for the local community and wider society – healthy food, of course, but also better soil, clean water, clean air and habitat for wildlife, and all the while sequestering carbon to help combat climate change.”
We wish Knepp every success in getting the project off the ground and plan to catch up with Russ a little later in the year to hear how things are going on the ground.
To learn more about Knepp or to book a visit, read on here.
What is regenerative farming?
Regenerative farming practices vary hugely around the world, depending on climate, type of land and the ecosystems they support.
Centred around improving soil health, regenerative farming works with nature to restore organic matter, utilising a variety of techniques including keeping the soil covered with living roots, maximising crop diversity and integrating livestock that naturally fertilise the ground, grazing small areas on rotation to avoid over-grazing.
No-till (the avoidance of ploughing) and agroforestry (which is the incorporation of indigenous trees on farmland) are also common regenerative farming practices that boost biodiversity and soil stability.
The really good news is that healthy soils sequester carbon at a far higher rate so this type of farming helps in the fight against climate change. Because regenerative farming supports thriving, productive ecosystems, it does not require the intervention of chemical fertilisers which pollute the air and water and are not good for our health.