Cover Crops For Better Hops: Farm Walk

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Hop farmers have traditionally kept their soils bare and open all year round to avoid verticillium wilt, an old disease that has been responsible for wiping out hundreds of hop farms in the UK.

In this Innovative Farmers field lab, hop growers have challenged this practice focusing instead on the benefits of growing cover crops in the fallow season after the hops have been harvested. The goal has been to maintain soil stability, prevent erosion, and maintain and improve fertility after the hops are gone. Cultivating cover crops is especially important as the entire hops plant is removed from the field in harvest, so organic matter is not returned to the soil as part of a normal cropping cycle.

This farm walk is a chance to hear from experienced hop grower Tom Berry and agronomist Rob Saunders, who will share their practical experience of growing these covers and the impact they have had in real conditions.

Through connection with this field lab, some participants gained understanding on managing cover crops in top fruit production as well as hops. So there will also be an opportunity to find out about the impact of cover crops beyond the hops industry.

This walk will take place on 27 April at 12.30 pm at Brenley Farm, Faversham, Kent, courtesy of Mr Tom Berry.

Sandwiches, homemade cakes and tea/coffee will be provided - please contact us if you have any dietary requirements or allergies.

Please note

- The farm walk may involve uneven ground, please wear appropriate outdoor gear/footwear and let us know if you have any specific access requirements in advance.

- Given the sensitive nature of hops, and to ensure no infections arrive on farm, we will ask you to disinfect your shoes upon arrival. The ideal would be for you to bring wellies to change into; otherwise, we ask you to be OK with disinfecting any shoes you are wearing (and take into account they might get wet!).

- Please do not attend if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating. If you start to display symptoms of Coronavirus, or begin a period of self-isolation after you have booked your ticket – please email us at to cancel your ticket.

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2022 marks the 10th year of Innovative Farmers. Part of the Duchy Future Farming programme, the network has been pioneering the model of farmer-led research in the UK. To celebrate this milestone and share the achievements of the 120 field labs launched to date, we are hosting a roadshow of events like this one across the country. Find out more about upcoming events here:

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