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 STUDY & TECHNICAL TOURS

 sustainable farming tour

The itinerary

Day 1

Group arrival and meet with tour manager.

Transfer to central London.

After a short orientation tour, the rest of the afternoon will be free to rest, or for independent sightseeing and leisure activities.

Overnight: LONDON

Day 2

Depart after breakfast for a visit to a leading experimental farm 'NIAB' http://www.niab.com/ in the vicinity of Cambridge. The mission of NIAB is to provide independent science-based research and information to develop agriculture and horticulture in supplying food and renewable resources, while respecting the natural environment.

After lunch at a countryside pub, visit a local farm of 1,200 ha with a mix of crops between spring and autumn and with different types of break crop, which includes 3,200 tonnes of sugar beet quota. The owners believe that ensuring a healthy environment is part of their duty as farmers and in recent years they have planted over 10,000 new hedge plants and in conjunction with the Woodland Trust they have planted over 35 acres of trees. In 2006 they joined the 'Entry Level Scheme' created by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) establishing numerous features and habitats to help the local wildlife, all run and managed alongside the productive fields.

Overnight: CAMBRIDGE

Day 3

Depart this morning for the area of East Anglia, one of the UK's most productive crop-growing regions.

Visit a farm where the family has farmed in Suffolk for four generations. Since 1999 they have applied organic production methods due to concerns about overworked soils and diminishing biodiversity on the farm. They now farm entirely organically on the home farm and for some neighbouring farmers. Livestock were reintroduced onto the farm in 2014 in the form of New Zealand Romney sheep to recycle nutrients.

Continue with a stop to purchase lunch independently en route. This afternoon visit the John Innes Centre in Norwich. The purpose of this world-class research institute is to generate knowledge of plants and microbes through innovative research, knowledge of nature's diversity to benefit agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being. https://www.jic.ac.uk/about/

Overnight: CAMBRIDGE

Day 4

Depart this morning to visit an arable farm of 1,200 h comprising cereals, sugar beet, forage rape, mustard for seed and stubble turnips as a catch crop on which to graze sheep. To promote soil fertility a wide rotation of crops is grown and there is a flock of 2000 sheep with several environmental schemes running on the farm.

Lunch will be included at a local country pub.

This afternoon visit Rothamsted Research in Harpenden to learn about the agri-environmental research projects they are working on, such as the ASSIST (Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems) programme https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/projects/achieving-sustainable-agricultural-systems-assist

Continue to Chester (3 hrs) in the north-west of England, a part of the country with higher rainfall than East Anglia, and a much greater emphasis on cattle livestock and grassland-based production systems.

Overnight: CHESTER

Day 5

Depart after breakfast for a visit to Grosvenor Farms.

The farm is home to 1,800 dairy cows which are milked three times daily to supply approximately 60,000 litres of fresh milk a day. The cows live in specially designed, state of the art barns which are larger than typical industry standards to improve animal comfort. This environment allows for plenty of natural light and air flow to enable free roaming and access to high quality feed mix and water as they choose. In turn, the slurry produced from our cows are used as organic fertilisers for the arable crops and maize. This complementary process reduces the dependence on artificial products and also helps to maintain the life of the soil.

Lunch will be included locally. Meet with representatives of AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board). AHDB is the major funder of applied agricultural and horticultural research and knowledge exchange (KE) in the UK. Part of their remit is to demonstrate and share knowledge with farmers and growers to deliver more sustainable food supply chains.

In the afternoon visit an AHDB 'strategic farm' of 98ha in Cheshire, stocking 70 Aberdeen Angus pedigree and cross-bred cattle, as well as two Angus bulls.

Overnight: SHREWSBURY

Day 6

Depart this morning for the National Agricultural Centre in Stoneleigh for a meeting with LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), the leading organisation for delivering more sustainable food and farming.

Stop in the delightful market town of Stratford-upon-Avon for lunch on your own. Stratford is renowned as the birth-place of England's greatest writer, William Shakespeare.

In the afternoon visit a farm estate in Warwickshire; a 1,400 ha arable and sheep LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) certified farm, which has established an Integrated Farm Management (IFM) approach to the whole business balancing profitable farming with environmental stewardship.

Continue to Oxford to check in to your hotel.

Overnight: OXFORD

Day 7

Depart this morning for Reading University (one of the world's top universities for agriculture with a history of teaching and research that goes back over a hundred years)

During the course of the visit, see how students learn to use biology and technology to maximise crop and animal production to meet economic targets and achieve environmental objectives.

Later today continue to London for free time at leisure and a farewell dinner with your fellow-travellers.

Welcome dinner this evening in a Chinese restaurant.

Overnight: LONDON

DAY 8

Depart UK

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