Island farmers revert to traditional methods to save money and the planet

Farmers across the Channel Islands are trying to find new ways to ensure they can stay in business.

Agricultural costs are going up, with the cost of fertiliser rising five fold from £200 to £1,000 per ton – leaving some farmers concerned for the future of their industry.

As a result, many are turning back the years and reverting to traditional methods which are more cost effective and, in many cases, benefit the environment.

Many in the agriculture sector are embracing ‘regenerative farming’ practices to boost the health and resilience of their crops and herds, as well as financial profitability. So-called ‘Regen-Ag’ focuses on the biology of the soil and reducing levels of artificial chemicals, through increased use of composting and more sustainable methods of land management.

Rocquette Cider Company in Guernsey is just one of those who has embraced the idea. The company took up the approach five years ago to manage its 5,500 apple trees. At their farm in Castel, the team has created so-called “super stacks” of specialist compost packed with indigenous micro organisms which are then reintroduced to the soil.

The company’s manager James Meller said: “The more we can manage efficiently our existing resources on farm the better. We don’t use synthetic inputs, so I am very pleased that we don’t have to add fertilisers to our list of rising costs. This will hopefully make us more resilient going forward.

Bulk waste, such as pressed apple pulp and tree prunings, are also composted and reintroduced to the soil.

The team has opted to use seaweed from the nearby coastlines to add minerals to the soil. Credit: Rocquette Cider Company

The company has also shifted away from importing volcanic dust to increase the soil’s mineral content, opting instead for a more local alternative.

“I checked the price of rock…

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