Sheep and wheat – farmer insights

Short video clips by farmer John Pawsey recorded during his quest to integrate sheep with wheat and help improve soil fertility and crop yields.

Resource explained

Organic farmer John Pawsey provides some valuable insights into introducing sheep to graze his organic winter wheat crops in a series of short video clips recorded in March and June 2012. He explains his intention was to try and improve soil fertility for the growing crop, and to promote tight grass management and increase wheat yields. View five of the videos below…

Findings & recommendations

John describes the wheat the sheep have been grazing as looking like some of the best he has; whilst noticing the crop has been opened up, allowing weeds such as black grass to “get away from the crop” somewhat, the wheat is noticeably thicker.

He explains he is experimenting with grazing the wheat to promote tillering and aid soil fertility and weed suppression. Research has shown that sheep can graze wheat without reducing yield until the ear gets to about 1cm.

John voices his concern over weeds potentially being able to grow ahead of the wheat recovering from being grazed.

John shows the area that the sheep were on when getting used to the electric fence, which has been grazed much harder. He points out that the growing point is still visible on the stems so is hopeful there will be no damage to the wheat yield…

John explains what he means when referring to the need to stop grazing before growth stage 31; showing some plants he has pulled up…


You can view more of John’s videos on his YouTube channel or on the Agricology Farmer’s Videos channel.

Also see John’s Agricology profile, which explains that he reintroduced livestock to his stockless arable rotation to “close the nutrient gap which we had been filling by importing manures and green waste” from 2014 onwards.


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