Aled holds a prestigious Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year Award. He has been using regenerative principles on his farm for a number of years, and is beginning to see some amazing results.
Brothers Aled and Iwan, who hail from the rolling green hills of Carmarthenshire, began farming when their aunt retired.
They had a blank canvas when they took over Rest Farm at Henllan Amgoed and immediately opted for a low-input grass-based system with environmental ideals at its core.
The regenerative practices are helping them to meet their business goals of running a financially robust farm that delivers a good quality of life and creates a legacy for the next generation.
Hereford-cross and Aberdeen Angus-cross cattle suit their farm perfectly.
“They naturally thrive on grass which means we can run a simple system while producing meat of very good and consistent quality,’’ says Aled.
He adds: “There is more yellowing to the fat, it cooks better, it is a far superior product to standard grain-fed beef.’’
Native-breed calves are sourced from local dairy farms and reared on milk before transitioning onto a grass and forage diet.
After weaning, they spend most of their time on grass with cattle outside for most of the year and finished at 20-24 months.
Short bursts of grazing followed by long rest periods allow roots to flourish, the plant to grow a bigger leaf area for harvesting energy from the sun and organic matter to build from dead material at the base of plants.
A diverse range of deep-rooting species is grown within the ryegrass leys, including plantain, chicory, red and white clovers, and timothy. This diversity in species has improved the soil and water infiltration rates.
By building more resilient and healthier soils, Aled and Iwan have been able to cut out artificial fertiliser and are being rewarded with an enrichment in biological life.
A flourishing population of wildlife reflects a healthy farming system. Recent biodiversity audits identified increased skylarks and linnets at Rest Farm and a diversity of invertebrates such as dung beetles for them to feed on.
That is indicative of healthy ecosystem and in turn results in healthier livestock with fewer treatments needed.
The brothers are ‘carbon keepers’, storing 92t of carbon in their soils, independent ecology audits have revealed.
“Our pastures are storing carbon whilst providing food for the cattle and a habitat for nature,’’ says Aled.
When rejuvenating pasture, direct drilling is used as a cultivation technique rather than ploughing which leaves the soil in better shape and prevents the release of carbon.
Above the soil, hedges are cut every three years instead of the annual trimming favoured by most. This means more berries and other feed for birds.
Working with GrassRoots Farming enables the Evans’ to forward plan, to budget for the needs of the end customers, and that helps them to manage business cashflow.
“When you have put two years into producing an animal it is really satisfying to know where it is going and to take my kids to eat in a restaurant we supply. It adds a lot to the feel good factor we get from farming,’’ says Aled.
This business model is allowing the brothers to provide an opportunity to other young farmers. Llifion Davies joined the business on a profit share arrangement and more recently the brothers established a cattle growing agreement with him.
“Llifon wants to progress in agriculture, so we are delighted to have played a small part in that, by helping to increase his knowledge and providing opportunities,’’ says Aled.
Working with Grassroots Farming means everyone is enjoying farming much more. For Aled, less time spent on the tractor means more is spent with his wife, Lowri, and their young daughters, Ava, 6, and Annie, 3.