In addition to my day job concerning the sustainability of biofuels used for transport, I run a small (<50 acres) organic farm growing arable crops. This size of farm is much too small to earn a living from, but I am interested in seeing how viable I can make it.
As said above, it is certified organic, and I grow arable crops. Historically these would be the normal range of grains (wheat, barley & oats) with the odd year of beans. Since I have taken the farm on, I am trying to grow slightly more unusual crops, with this year featuring puy lentils, a v small area of chick peas, some spring rye and some (more dependable) winter wheat. Something I am interested in is becoming certified as "stock free".
So, my questions for the forum are:
1. What do people think of the concept of "stock free"? There are not many farms certified as this that I am aware of, and none in the UK that do arable crops (as opposed to market garden / veg box type things). Do you think there would be a market for it?
2. Is anyone aware of any reseacrh into stockless organic farming, and in particular the relative merits of growing protein crops such as lentils organically in the UK, vs. importing them from elsewhere (either organically or not)?
3. Connected to this, in particular I'd be interested in hearing of any research on carbon sequestration by soils under stockless organic management.
4. Finally, something I'm really interested in is approaches to tillage on organic farms. Has anyone studied min-till or zero-till organic production? I farm on heavy clay land and have to plough every year. There is a significant carbon penalty to ploughing and I would love to learn about techniques for reducing tillage that can be applied to an organic production system. Studies I have seen indicate using glyphosate in a zero-till system is (in purely CO2 terms) better than being organic and ploughing.