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Natural Farming with James Williams

On a walk through the ancient woodland of Parc-Le-Breos, Farmer James Williams explains how he became interested in ‘Natural Farming’, and how he’s moving his farm away from conventional agricultural methods.

It started…I mean, I'm not a trained farmer, so I’ve never been to college to study farming at all. But when I, you know, as I’ve grown up, you realise how important the grass is for animal farmers.

It is the most important thing. So I went on a grass course that sort of sparked my interest on it. Sounds really boring, you know, making grass grow does, it does. You know, I sort of listen to myself and think ‘what are you talking about?’ but like measuring grass and then you get into the sort of realm of ‘how do I make the grass better? How do I make the soil...’ and then that sort of moved onto the soil. Well, the soil is the most important thing to make the grass grow better. So then when you start moving onto the soil…I started looking and started researching it more.

And then you start thinking, looking at conventional agriculture and the absolute negative effects of everything we do. You know, when you look at the wormers, you say, do wormers do what they say on the tin? Yes, they do. Do they kill the internal parasites in an animal? Absolutely do. But are there cascading effects from doing that? Absolutely there are. So what are the effects? Well, that dungpat there will sit there for three months and any insect that touches it will die.

And the type of insects you’re killing are beneficial insects, which will more than likely would help you with internal parasites. So, you know, a lot of modern farming practices are really sort of these…they haven’t got a holistic approach to farming.

It's purely, get the cow fat as quickly as possible, and almost, like, damn the consequences. And when you go down that road, it's fine for the first year, fine for the second year, but then it tends to compound itself, you know what I mean?

Like, the effects of killing all the flora and fauna sort of build-up and build-up and build-up. And also as well, when you support your animals in a way with wormers and insecticides and things like that, you’re masking and their inadequacies as well.

So, you know, if you think, nature is true survival of the fittest. Okay, so if you've got something that can't cope with internal worms and then you’re masking that problem by taking those worms away with wormers, you’re breeding in weakness to the animal, and if you keep that cow’s progeny, you know, it's inherently weak because it can't survive or perform well unless it's being wormed. Where does it stop? It doesn't really, you just keep on going, you know? There’s, like natural farming ideologies for loads of different things, not just this part of it, you know, raising animals. It's a completely different way of doing it. But, you know, it's fantastically interesting.

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