Low input for maximum gain: Exploring livestock systems in the UK and Europe

Date: 7th November 2022

Time: 10am

Location: Braunston and Brooke Village Hall, 1 Wood Lane, Braunston, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8QZ.

Extensive, regenerative, organic, short-term leys, permanent pasture, species-rich swards, herbal leys... The options when it comes to low-input systems are incredible.

Join NSA, two NSA members and experts in the field to discuss what they've learnt from their travels across UK and Europe.

**Click here to register to attend this event** 


10am - Welcome and background – Phil Stocker, NSA CEO

10:20am - Sustainable, low input farming. Food security alongside environmental gains – Professor Louise Manning (Lincoln University)

10:40am - Learning from international travel.

                  Same challenges, same tool kit, different methods -  Mike Adams.

                  Regenerative vs organic: pros and cons for my farm - James MacCartney.

11.20am - The role of organic farming - Steven Jacobs, OF&G and Will Armitage, Organic dairy/arable farmer.

11.40am - Open discussion - Q&A

12:15pm - Phil Stocker wrap-up and lunch

13:00pm - Farm walk James’ – Flitteriss Park Farm, Brauston, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8QX – looking at two sites so need to vehicle share where possible.


Farm tour:

Introduction to the sheep enterprise:

  • Total of 800 breeding ewes. 500 mules and 300 Lleyns.
  • Lleyns are only in their second year of the low input system.
  • Will discuss the pros/cons of this system including the additional challenges of 2022 drought and future plans to protect against extreme weathers.

Low input forage and getting more from grass:

  • Discussion on grass and cover crop establishment.
  • Pros and cons on his farm, including overcoming challenges experienced.
  • Learn what not to do on your own farm from those that have trialled it.

Biochar trial with Nottingham University

  • Joined by Tom Bott, Research Associate to discuss this in detail.
  • Discussion on the role of biochar Discussion on the role of biochar application to agricultural soils to understand any potential benefits and impacts biochar may have on soil health and function. It could be a potential carbon capture and sequestration technology.
  • James to discuss what he hopes to see from the farm perspective.


Collect 3 RoSA CPD points for attending this event.


NSA the sole UK partner in an EU-funded Turkish-led research project called E-Organic Erasmus. It started in early 2021 and is now approaching the final stages of this two-year project. The main aim of the project was to bring together countries to share good practice techniques when it comes to livestock farming. Collaboration between partners in Italy, Spain and Turkey has allowed NSA to assist in building a free-to-access online resource known as the e-book. This covers a range of topics, focusing on organic and conventional systems for all livestock species across Europe. It also enabled NSA to send two of our very own NSA members to each of the partner countries to see first-hand conventional, regenerative and organic farming methods abroad. Mike Adams and James MacCartney were selected through an interview process in summer 2021 and will be sharing their experiences at the multiplier event ‘Low input for maximum gain: Exploring livestock systems in the UK and Europe’ hosted by NSA on the 7th of November, at Braunston and Brooke Village Hall, Rutland. 


Speaker Bios:

Professor Louise Manning: Louise is Professor of Sustainable Agri-food Systems at Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology, University of Lincoln, a Nuffield Scholar and a Director of her family farming business in Herefordshire. She is a member of the Board of Directors at Rothamstead Research. Louise is involved with research, teaching and knowledge exchange activities associated with food and farming.


Mike Adams: Mike is a first generation farmer who established his own flock in 2005. After various breed experiments, he is moving towards Poll Dorsets lambing three times in two years, alongside similarly recently established beef and arable enterprises.


James MacCartney: James is not farming organically, but is likewise interested in regenerative agriculture, particularly improving grazing management and sward quality. He runs 800 breeding ewes and 150 cattle alongside various diversification schemes, with plans to increase sheep numbers as grazing management improves. To maintain a closed flock, James is replacing his North Country Mules with Lleyns.


Steven Jacobs: Steven is the Business Development Manager at OF&G. Organic Farmers & Growers CIC is the largest certifier of organic land in the UK. OF&G run several assurance schemes including an organic inspection and certification scheme that operates from seed to shelf. Steven has been working in food and farming for 30 years. Starting in market gardening and moving through broadscale farming to retail via catering. Following work with the Permaculture Association, the Co-operative Wholesale Society, Fresh & Wild (now Wholefoods Market) and Essential Trading Co-operative Steven joined Organic Farmers & Growers in 2007.


Will Armitage: Will Armitage runs a large-scale organic dairy/arable farming business, Keythorpe Farms, near Leicester. With 1,200 Holstein Friesian cows across four farms in Leicestershire, in collaboration with others and as an owner-occupier.


This multiplier event is part of an EU funded Erasmus project, E-Organic. More at www.eorganiceu.com/en/.

James MacCartney (pictured left), Mike Adams and son Monty (pictured right).
James MacCartney (pictured left), Mike Adams and son Monty (pictured right).