At Incredible farm we have been thinking about flooding for some time and viewing valley bottom engineering solutions with some skeptism.
Its not polite to say, told you so! But…….
It’s the land, always has been, and to us the silver lining of the recent horrible events has been the attention and interest land management is now getting from the community.
Many people are saying, the moorlands need “De Draining” and tree planting, Absolutely true, and the mill dams reviving as flood water storage, and the work Treesponsibility and Scource are doing needs to be supported and boosted. But theres a further factor.
Several years ago we had the experience of digging into a pasture on the tops after a dry summer was followed by a month of heavy rain. We noticed the water penetration was very shallow. Farming methods have lead to compressed soil and a situation where water runs off because it cannot penetrate.
Our farm is in the valley bottom surrounded by steep slopes. We have long wanted to experiment on the slopes with farming methods that would enhance the water soak and catchment as well as produce much more food than current farming methods.
There are several models for this:
A chap called Sepp Holtzer in the southern Austrian Alps terraced his high farm and grows on strips of land one small tractor wide that slow down water flows and nutrient loss and create micro climates where crops thrive in a bleak climate. He created a network of ponds and lakes down his mountain side that grow fish without added food and store water.
Another model s farming between lanes of trees along the contours. The trees open up the soil that absorbs water and the trees provide shelter and fix nutrients.
We have a possible opportunity to do these things and more, on the land next to Incredible Farm. It is for sale, it has a steep south westerly facing aspect and two streams, 32 acres.
University of Agro Ecology
We will be able to engage in serious research into the effect of these methods on the land, food growing and local culture as part of a new University of Agro Ecology launched in Oxford last week.
As well as an experimental base and a showcase to the community of sustainable and flood reducing farming we need to do it to demonstrate to our farmers that other ways can work.
It needs substantial funding and a much greater level of community involvement than we have at present.
Can we do this?
Probably we have no choice.
Are you in or are you out?