An excerpt from Acorn Dairies, Darlington.....................
Farming that’s in harmony with the natural environment
We are often asked why our organic dairy products taste so good. And the answer is always the same… We are passionate about our cows; we care about how we treat them and we feed them with top quality grass and silage. We care for the environment too by generating our own green electricity and we have set aside an area of the farm that’s a haven for wildlife in all its forms. We also operate a 12 mile hedge improvement plan and following an RSPB survey we know our farm provides habitat for over 80 species of bird.
The result…. Farming that’s in harmony with the natural environment means you get top quality organic milk with the best possible taste.
How can we grow healthy
crops and animals without the use of chemicals?
· The hallmark of quality organic farming is close attention to detail and after 15 years this is now second nature to all the team.
· When we started the transition from intensive conventional commodity milk production to organic farming in 1998, the biggest problems were between our ears! How could we grow healthy crops and animals without the use of chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides and drugs? Our mind-set was to use drugs and chemicals purely because they had the commercial effect of increased production at lower costs.
· So we went back to basics and with the assistance of other organic farmers we began to develop systems and procedures which prevented problems occurring in the first place. In turn, that meant we didn’t need chemical assistance to correct the problems.
· Unfortunately, the net effect of this improved quality of farming and cow welfare was a reduction in farm output, and increased costs of production – an economic conundrum that had to be addressed! To square this economic circle, we now sell directly to the end consumer, cutting out the various middle men, yet retaining realistic competitive prices for our organic produce, delivered direct to your doorstep or to your business.
How we improve soil
· Rather than using chemical-based fertilisers, we improve soil fertility naturally by growing deep-rooting legumes (red clover and beans) and recycling farmyard manure as compost. The legumes maintain a well aerated, free draining soil structure through their rooting system. They also provide a natural fertiliser by fixing nitrogen from the air in a form other plants can use.
· Compost is produced by mixing air with farmyard manure through a muck spreader two to three times during the cycle. This allows the farmyard manure to heat up, killing off any weed seeds and potentially harmful bacteria. The compost is spread on the fields largely during the spring and summer.
The benefits of an
integrated approach to organic farming
· The diversity of the wildlife to be found around the farm has increased greatly since the farm entered organic conversion in 1998. Both insects and small birds have benefited from the increased hedgerow size and the absence of chemicals on the farm.
· Sightings of kestrels, skylarks, sparrowhawks, curlews, fieldfares and herons are more commonplace since we converted to organic farming. Encouraging wildlife and increasing the crop diversity is helping nature keep its natural balance.
· The result? Cows feeding on grass that’s been grown in healthy, chemical-free soils and surrounded by abundant hedges means everyone benefits: the cows, the wildlife and the humans!