Scottish farming company is recognised for exemplary regenerative approaches

4 Front Farming Co Ltd becomes the latest site to join our network of LEAF Demonstration Farms.

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4 Front Farming Co Ltd becomes the latest site to join our network of Demonstration Farms, set up to showcase more sustainable, regenerative farming methods.

The company was established in 2017, when four neighbouring farmers in Fife, all LEAF members, joined forces to use economies of scale to farm more efficiently, in a quest to deliver more sustainable and profitable farming. The farm, at West Gilston Mains, covers 1,200 hectares, primarily growing oats, winter wheat, malting barley and combinable beans, alongside green manures, temporary herbal leys and a number of vegetable lets.

4 Front Farming is led by Farm Manager, Matt Waldie, a fourth-generation farmer who has been recognised as a ‘Climate Hero’ for his work in driving more regenerative farming approaches. Matt was also part of our ‘Nature Based Solutions’ project, a farmer-led partnership exploring innovative ways to adapt to nature-friendly farming practices, focusing on carbon foot-printing tools to measure and monitor indicative impacts.

As a farming social-collaborative, 4 Front Farming transitioned to more integrated farming systems as part of its drive to reduce GHG emissions and improve soil organic matter leading to higher soil carbon storage. Using minimal tillage, direct drilling, multi-species cover crops, herbal leys and mob grazing, significant improvements have been seen in soil health, yields, as well as reductions in fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking at the launch event Matt explained:

“Up until 2016 our Soil Organic Matter percentage had been dropping. Between 1993 it went from 7.84% to 6.1%. Yields had plateaued, yet our fixed and variable costs were increasing, and we had seen a reduction in the numbers of grey partridge. For us, our focus is not just on sustainability, but on profitability too – you can’t farm green if you’re in the red. In addition to fertiliser savings from using cover crops in the rotation, we’re also saving money by direct drilling.

“Becoming a LEAF Demonstration Farm and being recognised for what we are doing as a company to achieve profitable farming, alongside meeting net-zero targets, is a golden opportunity to share our approaches with other farmers. Together, as an industry, we can drive the expertise, knowledge and skills needed to speed up the delivery of more sustainable, farming systems”.

Philip Wynn, LEAF Chairman and acting CEO added:

“Farmers play a huge part in meeting our climate change challenges. LEAF’s UK wide network of Demonstration Farms, backed up by the research generation capability of our Innovation Centres, provides a unique ‘science into practice’ platform, to drive innovation and the uptake of more regenerative farming approaches. Cutting edge IFM research generated from our Innovation Centres is tested at farm-level on our Demonstration Farms and cascaded out to the wider farming community through farm visits, talks and training events. 4 Front Farming Co Ltd are a fantastic example of IFM in practice and we are delighted to welcome them to the LEAF Network.”

4 Front Farming joins 41 other LEAF Demonstration Farms and 17 LEAF Innovation Centres who make up the LEAF Network, bringing together some of the most forward-thinking farmers and researchers to deliver more climate positive and sustainable farming methods through IFM.

With special thanks to Diageo, Frontier, GrainCo, Kings, PepsiCo and SOYL for sponsoring the launch of 4 Front Farming as a LEAF Demonstration Farm.