Shaking up your business and doing things differently can be daunting, and it is even harder if you feel you’re going into unknown territory on your own. But that is just what a lot of farmers are being asked to do, when governments, lobbyists, consumers, and the supply chain ask them to move to ‘regenerative’ or ‘sustainable’ agriculture and change their farming to focus on soil health, water quality, biodiversity and reduced reliance on artificial inputs like NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) or pesticides. As nature and climate have moved higher up the public agenda in recent years, farming has often had a bad press (sometimes fairly, sometimes not) – and many land managers are frustrated at being blamed for doing things that were positively encouraged not so very long ago. Many of today’s land managers are being urged to replant hedges and trees that their parents or grandparents were paid to take out in the post-war years, when yields and national food security were top of the public agenda and farmers were told to cultivate every inch of ground they had. If you stay in the game for long enough, and farmers often do play a very long game indeed, it seems everything comes round again. So is regenerative agriculture and sustainable farming just another fad?

Well, the term might be fashionable, but the principles have a long history and many farmers will be doing bits of ‘regen ag’ already. Talk Farm Regen Monmouthshire is a farmer-led discussion group for anyone interested in regenerative agriculture, already doing it, thinking of having a go, or downright sceptical but open to debate. Membership is open to anyone farming in or near Monmouthshire, especially in the Wye and Usk catchments, and costs nothing. You’re welcome whether you’re direct drilling 1,000 acres, wondering whether to change your grazing regime, or you’ve just put a few saplings in a wet patch on your smallholding. There is a lively Facebook group (search Talk Farm Regen Monmouthshire to join), and regular events and farm walks planned to fit into the farming calendar. The aim is to be a local group where farmers can give and get advice from others trying similar things in the same part of the world.