Angus Gowthorpe

2021 Sustainable Innovator of the Year winner

Approach Farm,
KM & CAW Gowthorpe,
North Yorkshire

Soil comes first in all decisions Angus Gowthorpe makes on his 395-acre mixed farm in York, North Yorkshire.

It’s an approach that has not only improved profits and transformed farm biodiversity, but is helping to ensure the business is future-proofed against any challenges that might lie ahead.

Concerned his farm’s soils were deteriorating, in 2014 Angus adopted regenerative farming practices with a view to improving soil health, organic matter and creating a profitable business he could hand on to the next generation.

Direct drilling a variety of crops including winter wheat and barley, linseed, oats, spring beans and maize, Angus began using companion plants with cash crops, introducing a living understory of white clover across the farm. He also began growing wheat and barley in a blend of varieties in a bid to reduce the need for fungicides and improve resilience.

The result has been a dramatic reduction in input use, with Angus able to stop using seed treatments, insecticides and plant growth regulators. Nitrogen application has been cut, while he hasn’t applied P or K for four years.

Angus’ environmentally conscious approach to farming is extended to his 45-head of Saler cattle, which are mob-grazed across 24ha of permanent grassland. The majority of the grassland consist of herbal leys that require no nitrogen, while the animals are only treated with insecticides when there is a proven need.

Maximising value

All of these measures have not only improved soil health, farm biodiversity and crop micronutrients – ensuring yields have remained steady despite a reduction in inputs – but have also resulted in greater carbon sequestration on-farm.

Having achieved net zero, Angus is now at a point where he can sell the carbon that is being sequestered and the biodiversity that is enhanced as a knock-on from how we are farming the land.

Keen to help other farmers benefit from carbon sequestration, Angus has also joined forces with five like-minded farmers to create the Green Farm Collective – a business which aims to monetise carbon and biodiversity and return maximum value back to farmers.

With the long-term future of agricultural subsidies and high-input farming uncertain, adapting farms for ‘the new future’ is vital for many reasons, he says.

Angus believes the more people engage with regenerative agriculture, the better the wider environment will be and the healthier the food that we produce will be.

At a glance:

  • 395-acre mixed arable and beef farm utilising regenerative farming practices
  • Focus on soil health and quality helping to build crop resilience and reduce the need for inputs
  • Selling sequestered carbon helping future-proof the business