Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: sustainable and local sheep licks?  (Read 13280 times)


  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: sustainable and local sheep licks?
« Reply #45 on: February 06, 2017, 03:29:12 pm »
This came up in convo today with my Agro chap - It was interesting his words;
"If your after biodiversity and conservation, subsidy IS the only way to survive on less than 200 acres, realisitically, as you can rest one field a time for several years and get 90'ha top up for doing so to create rough fallow meadow land (This is the single most valuable and rare type) and graze it once in 5 years, then move to the next field.

The simple numbers facts mean that any less than a carrying capacity of 4/ac of sheep lambing at 150% will be loss making unless you are;
All Grass
All Easycare type
No fodder

Otherwise hidden costs like fencing repairs, etc will average close to 40 an acre per year (more on acid and wet soils) over a 10-15 year life cycle, Incidental costs and vets bills avg 7/ewe etc and then time. - This will quickly eat up the 3 saleable lambs per acre your aiming to produce (max income realistically 100 (33/h) profit after costs, before time).

This is why my chap is so skeptical, his words "I help 2-3 people a year try this route, and all in all they all loose several thousand a year, and most dont make 5 years before being disheartend and quitting or selling up, those that do, like you dave, adjust to survive. The key isnt saving the world, its doing the least damage while feeding the world, and few people get the difference in the early days, often times the best thing for nature is to just abandon 20-30 acres, and farm the rest of your farm more intensive, than to try to save the entire farm-eco system, and go bankrupt doing so, often resulting in 7-10x more biomass and diversity, furthermore creating an island wildlife can venture out from, but have a safe base to return to as the farming cycle goes through the year. "


  • Joined Nov 2010
Re: sustainable and local sheep licks?
« Reply #46 on: February 06, 2017, 04:34:08 pm »
it's only my opinion coximus, but I tend to think that people like him who state things like "the only way..." are pretty stupid.

I understand what he's saying, but I'm not trying to produce a commerically viable farm on 26 acres, I mean... that'd be daft. I'm a smallholder.

What would be nice, in the very long term, is if a lot of us types produced enough data to either a) convince the majority of smallholders of this way, or b) help the agronomists produce something that would scale-up.

Another thing for your "the only way" mate is brexit.... Subsidy is not going to get any better - of that we can be pretty sure. Conservation for subisdy is a totally cynical idea anyway, and leads to the kind of thinking mentioned earlier by the agronomist we had out.


  • Joined Nov 2010
Re: sustainable and local sheep licks?
« Reply #47 on: February 06, 2017, 04:45:46 pm »
the above was somewhat timely though, as the agronomist popped by to deliver our soil testing results.

pH's of between 5.3 and 5.5
Low ish Selinium (0.27 where 0.6 is recommended)
Very low Iodine (0.4 where recommended is 1.5)
slightly low copper (3.8 where 4.5 is recommended)
high magnesium
high manganese
index 2 for both P & K - across the board

they recommded 21 tonnes of lime - with 4 acres of hard-to-access areas removed from the requirement.

Needless to say we're not going to do anything yet... I need more data.

Having had a thorough chat with the agronomist, we're now going to tissue-test the growing grasses/plants during april-ish, when they are growing well (Devon, remember). This will tell us a bit more about what our mix of plants are getting from the soil, as well as fixing from the air. It also gives a better insight into what the sheep are actually eating. We'll also look to get some blood tests done, probably at 2 points throughout the year.

As mentioned earlier in the thread, we're going to have a go at quadrant surveying the fields to try to determine species and rough populations.

One idea discussed with the agronomist was direct-sowing, rather than trying to fix issues with chemicals - she's going to look into this.

quite happy with the P&K levels though - that's one headache out of the way.


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: sustainable and local sheep licks?
« Reply #48 on: February 07, 2017, 10:19:40 am »
No mention of molybdenum or iron in that report?  Mineral analysis is complicated as even though you could have high in one thing the plants might not actually be able to take it up due to the present of another "antagonist" mineral.  There is a chart somewhere that show which minerals are linked to mineral wheel.
Sounds like you are on the right track though with your data gathering.

I've recently taken on a new holding and its a bit of a dive, very neglected and been over-horsed for many years.  I was going to go down the analysis route but I've ditched all that (on the assumption that it's just gonna tell me what I already know - it's poor) and am just concentrating on improving the soil humus content.  I might lime but access is tricky.  I'll be overseeding/re-seeding with a herbal ley with plenty of deep rooted plants which should bring the goodness from deep down up to the surface. That and plenty of mowing to build up the soil layer - I have lots of rushes so they will just be mown (a lot) to do just that. And rotational grazing, with seaweed meal as the main supplement for the sheep.  In the long term I'm aiming for all-year grazing with limited additional supplements.


  • Joined Nov 2010
Re: sustainable and local sheep licks?
« Reply #49 on: February 07, 2017, 12:34:38 pm »
Yes iron and molybdenum both mentioned.  Iron is very very high. 800+ where 50 is normal. Apparently this explains the high manganese and magnesium too. Molybdenum is slightly low.


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