Fast food giant McDonald’s has teamed up with research body FAI Farms Ltd to assess the viability and benefits of adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing for beef cattle.
The project, which aims to better understand the impacts, barriers and benefits of farming regeneratively using AMP grazing, will inform the creation of a learning platform for UK and Irish beef producers to help them transition towards a regenerative agriculture-style farming system.
AMP grazing involves each farm having a bespoke grazing plan, with decisions made based on a set of principles, rather than prescriptions.
The regenerative principles include: no bare soil; maximising root depth by leaving grass to grow long; and optimising animal impact through intensive grazing and long periods of rest.
McDonald’s and FAI Farms believe regenerative agriculture, through methods such as AMP grazing, offers farmers a way to create a food system which draws down more carbon than it emits, while also restoring soil quality, increasing biodiversity, and improving farmer resilience.
“Regenerative agriculture represents a path towards a new climate future,” said FAI Farms regenerative farming director, Clare Hill.
“By working with nature we manage our livestock and crops with the purpose of reviving the health and vitality of our rural ecosystems and communities.”
— FAIfarms (@FAIfarms) February 18, 2021
Ms Hill said various on-farm metrics are being monitored as part of the project including soil biology, carbon emissions, animal behaviour, and daily liveweight gains.
Explaining the benefits FAI Farms has experienced with AMP grazing at its demonstration farm in Oxford, Ms Hill said: “We are growing more grass and keeping our soil covered helping with flood and drought resilience, and our daily liveweight gains are better than our previous set-stocked system.”
McDonald’s UK and Ireland agriculture and sustainable sourcing manager, Harriet Wilson, said the company was excited to work with FAI Farms on the project.
She said: “We know grazing systems provide an opportunity to futureproof the beef industry and drive more resilient production.
“This programme will create a roadmap to ensure our future beef supply contributes to a sustainable food system where people, local communities, animals and the planet can thrive.”