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06 January 22

Why we're supporting Groundswell

Affinity Water has announced it will be the Headline Sponsor of Groundswell, the regenerative agricultural show again, for its 5th year in June 2022.

Groundswell show logo

The sell-out show is now one of the most important in the agriculture calendar and last year saw the Environment Secretary George Eustice give a keynote speech. Over 3,500 people attended to learn about regenerative farming and many other big topics such as climate change, biodiversity and sustainability. The event is a great opportunity to network with other farmers, advisors and policy makers as well as seeing the latest farm machinery demo’d on the farm.

In a new #podcast Groundswell organisers, John and Paul Cherry talk to Affinity Water’s Agricultural Advisor, Shaun Dowman, about the show and why the concept of regenerative farming, which they have been at the forefront of, is now the hottest ticket in Town and being discussed in the corridors of power in Westminster. Listen to the podcast below.

Groundswell 2022 will take place from 22nd to 23rd June 2022 at Lannock Manor Farm, Hertfordshire, the home of the host farmers the Cherry Family. Tickets will go on sale in March 2022. You can find out more here.

The Groundswell event provides a forum for farmers, and anyone interested in food production and the environment to learn about the theory and practical applications of Conservation Agriculture or regenerative systems, including no-till, cover crops and re-introducing livestock into the arable rotation, with a view to improving soil health.

Host Farmer, John Cherry said: “We want to thank Affinity Water for working with us again for another year and being the Headline Sponsor of this event. We are looking forward to hosting over 5,000 people this year, all of whom share a passion for regenerative agriculture.”

In the Podcast John explains: “We stopped ploughing here 20 years ago because the very big tractors farmers use plough deeper and faster than ever before. You can convince yourself it is a cheap and a traditional way of farming, but it is incredibly expensive from the metal, and tractor and diesel point of view. But worst of all, from our point of view you are turning the soil upside down. Soil is a complex ecosystem in its own right and the top few inches is where most of the action happens. If you come along and turn it upside down it is a disaster from the soil creatures’ point of view. They are what works it and makes it effective as a water purifier or as a sink for carbon, and all the ecosystem benefits which we are keen on.”

His brother Paul also gives his view of regenerative farming in the podcast saying it is financially viable to adopt no-till farming practices: “We are not organic; we do use fertiliser but less of it. But it is less machinery, less diesel, our yields maybe a little bit lower but the costs are much lower, so this is also about the bottom line. We are businessmen but we are also helping to save the planet. Regenerative farming has been going on across the globe, Australia, America, South America and Europe for decades now and that’s what it is all about.”

Affinity Water’s Shaun Dowman, an agricultural advisor, with over 15 years’ experience of working within academia, environmental regulation and the water industry will again be attending.

In the podcast Shaun explains: “Groundswell is a great local event in our patch, but the health of soils has a big impact on the water environment and that link is really close. By supporting Groundswell, we can support the movement that is farmer led. It is sharing knowledge about soil health and hopefully that will lead to improved soil health within our catchments, and this will in turn be beneficial for our chalk streams and the ground water aquifers.”

As agricultural advisor for Affinity Water Shaun’s work targets catchment solutions that help improve water quality and reduce reliance on water treatment. Using knowledge of land management and the aquatic environment he works with farmers to help safeguard drinking water catchments and enhance the farmed environment.

Shaun Dowman said: “It’s been rewarding to work with the Cherry family to really put regenerative agricultural practices on the map. Interest is growing and the more we talk about the need to restore soil health and protect the environment the more it is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy with farmers wanting to engage with these farming practices, such as growing cover crops, to enrich the land.

“This will be the 5th year we have been the headline sponsor of Groundswell and I am sure it will be a sell-out again; it is going from strength to strength. We are keen to promote farming practices that are beneficial for soil, water and the wider environment, themes we will be presenting at the Affinity Water catchment hub at the 2022 event”.

Alister Leggatt, Affinity Water’s Catchment Manager said: “Hats off to John, Paul and the rest of the Cherry family, for championing regenerative farming practices and creating a true groundswell movement. They are spreading the word so powerfully to farmers across the Country and into government too now. We have learnt so much about the important role managing agricultural land and soil in a sustainable way can have in protecting water through our partnership with the Groundswell Team. As a water supply company operating in the south-east of England and the largest Water only company in the UK, we want to protect the environment for the sake of our 3.6 million customers and future generations. Our headline sponsorship of the Groundswell event goes hand in hand with our work on encouraging farmers to plant cover crops in the autumn to ensure nitrate from fertilisers in the land doesn’t leach into the soil and run into our rivers. We are doing all we can as a Company to promote sustainable agriculture in the UK alongside protecting the environment.”

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