A PIONEERING on-farm conference focusing on soil health is gearing up for its launch on a Cumbrian farm this summer.

Carbon Calling is a knowledge exchange initiative created by farmers to promote discussion among livestock and food producers, and help them address climate, biodiversity, societal and food security issues.

Founded by beef and sheep consultant Liz Genever, regenerative farmers Nic and Paul Renison, and host farmer Tim Nicholson the two-day (June 25-26) conference in the Eden valley is Carbon Calling’s flagship event.

It follows two years of live chats featuring some of the leading food producers, consultants, and researchers in the regenerative farming movement. It was originally planned for 2020.

Mixed farmer and ecologist Tim Nicholson of Sleastonhow Farm in the Eden Valley will host the meeting.

He has first-hand experience of water quality, soil health, biodiversity, and profitability challenges on his own 300-acre farm.

Mr Nicholson saw profit margins and biodiversity come under pressure when he took charge of the home farm in 2005, but over the five years he has seen wildlife return as he’s adapted his conventional farming system with regenerative methods.

But he stresses the farm is still learning about lowering inputs like synthetic fertiliser, weed killers and bought-in feed, and producing healthy soils, livestock, and crops.

“As a farmer you can’t look at the label or read the instructions for this type of farming, you have to learn from others, and we hope Carbon Calling acts as a catalyst for farmers to learn from each other,” says Tim.

“I’ve started direct drilling, experimenting with deeper rooting plants and mob grazing sheep and cattle.

“We have seen grey partridges, barn owls, tree sparrows and red squirrels start to come back in the area.”

Co-organiser Nic Renison said: “Carbon Calling is a grass roots conference packed with inspirational farmer speakers, we can promise a weekend briming with innovation and positive vibes, which will enable us to farm profitability working alongside nature.”

The event includes practical demonstrations, seminars, and discussion panels.

Carbon Calling’s list of speakers includes:

• US regenerative rancher and author, Greg Judy

• Sheila Dillon of the BBC Food and Farming Awards

• Defra’s Janet Hughes, programme director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme

• Cumbrian cheese maker Martin Gott

• A farmer panel including Wiltshire farmer Andy Rumming, Perthshire farmer Alex Brewster and Charlie Walker from Duns

• Independent soil scientist Ian Bell

• Organic dairy farmer Patrick Holden of the Sustainable Food Trust

Venue: Sleastonhow, Kirkby Thore, Penrith, CA10 1LX

Costs to attend the main conference on the Saturday is £60 (including VAT).

Twitter: @Carboncallfarm

Greg and Jan Judy of Clark, Missouri run a grazing operation on 1660 acres of leased and owned land. Greg and Jan went from near bankruptcy in 1999 to paying off a 200-acre farm and house in 3 years with custom grazing on leased land and are debt free. They own four farms and lease 13 farms. They graze South Poll cattle, St Croix hair sheep, guardian dogs and Shiitake mushrooms.