PRECISION GRAZING - Key Persons
James grew up on his family's mixed beef and sheep farm in Cornwall, he studied Agricultural Engineering (and rugby!) at Harper Adams University before working across the UK and Ireland for AGCO. In 2015 he returned home and the family reviewed their business, recognising that pasture management was a limiting factor. This encouraged James to travel to New Zealand to work at Burleigh Station, near Palmerstone North an innovative beef farm running 1100hd. The farms owners, Harry and Chloe Weir had developed a unique grazing management system - TechnoGrazing - based on permanent lanes, sub-divided into cells with temporary electric fencing. All stock on the farm moved every 2 days, with excellent fencing and water infrastructure minimising labour. Near organic and making no conserved forage the farm produced twice the kgLW/ha compared to the regional average from its diverse species permanent pastures. The skills and knowledge learnt at Burleigh underpins James's approach today.
Back home James started working with his neighbours, founding Precision Grazing in 2016 and running an AHDB sponsored innovation project comparing benefits of TechnoGrazing with Set-stocking. This project demonstrated that by changing the grazing management, significant gains could be made in efficiency and productivity - producing more with less inputs. Since then James has worked across the UK helping farmers to implement and managed their grazing systems. He also started a number of regional discussion groups - to support likeminded farmers and enable peer to peer learning. As demand has grown so has the team with Rhys Williams, Sarah Morgan & Rachael Wood joining the business, all bringing hands-on experience of grazing management and farm business change.
James has experience across a wide range of soil types, enterprises and business structures bringing a thorough understanding of pasture-based livestock systems to all work from business planning to regenerative farming systems. His knowledge is sought by corporate and agri-tech companies having been involved in projects with Rothamstead, FAI Farms, McDonalds, Nofence and Ruumi (satelight data). Away from work James enjoys spending time outside, no longer playing rugby he is supporting the Cornish stereotype by learning to surf! He is also director of Progressive Farming Company and Grassroots Farming, separate but complementary businesses. With his wife they are expecting their first child in October!
"I believe a "pasture first" approach can deliver for everyone being profitable and productive whilst enhancing the environment. The biggest barrier to change is knowledge & confidence, my team and I are here to help guide farmers through their transition and enable them to achieve success without the stress!".
Rachael grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Motueka, New Zealand which runs crossbred ewes and Red Devon breeding cows. Having an agricultural upbringing sparked a passion for agriculture and she attended Lincoln University, graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with First Class Honours in 2021. The degree includes courses relating to soil science, animal science, plant science and farm management, whilst her honours focused on the wool science area of study. As part of her degree, Rachael spent six months studying at Colorado State University in the United States, broadening her view of agricultural systems and education outside of New Zealand.
Since leaving university she has gained experience in an English farm system by working for a family farm in Dorset during lambing in 2021. This introduction to agriculture in England was an opportunity to understand how farming differs from New Zealand and the opportunities that are available because of this. Since then Rachael has worked on a high country station in the South Island of New Zealand which runs Merino ewes, Angus cows and Red Deer hinds, as well as an intensive lamb rearing operation in the spring. This increased her understanding of what it takes to run a profitable farm business within different environmental and regulatory constraints.
Rachael is passionate about farmers being able to produce the best economic returns possible from their farm systems. She has a strong interest in pasture-based animal production and how soil and plant health interact with animal production. Outside of work Rachael enjoys playing rugby, skiing and she is looking forward to having the chance to explore the UK since she is now based in Bristol.
Rhys grew up on a 60ha farm on the Llyn Peninsula, North Wales where he and his father run 1,000 hoggets and 150 kiwi cross contract reared dairy heifers on a rotational grazing system. Before joining Precision Grazing in 2018, Rhys was head of agriculture at Glynllifon College. After 15 years of teaching he developed a desire to work more directly with the industry as well as on his own farm and other businesses.
In 2016 Rhys, alongside landowner Harry Fetherstonhaugh and farmer Emyr Jones set up a share farming agreement, one of the first of its kind in the UK. The joint farming venture is located in Abergele and has a regenerative farming focus, consisting of 300ha, running 2200 New Zealand Romney breeding ewes, plus 600 replacements marketed under Hauora Romney and a contract dairy heifer rearing enterprise.
Rhys has considerable experience in the design, set-up and management of profit-focused, pasture-based beef and sheep systems. Trained in holistic management he has helped farmers reduce the need for artificial fertiliser and concentrate feed whilst improving animal performance. He works one to one with a number of businesses, often alongside their accountant to plan for and guide them to profit.
He also uses his personal share farming experience to advise others alongside robust enterprise budgets which underpin successful new ventures. A fluent Welsh speaker he facilitates a number of discussion groups as part of the Prosper from Pasture Programme. He is passionate about helping people get the most out of their business - providing guidance and accountability, helping to communicate new ideas with all family members. Husband and father of three Rhys is a big rugby fan and dedicated coach for the local junior rugby team in which his sons play. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family exploring the local beaches.
Sarah is from a mixed 120ha farm in Shropshire, where she has helped transition the business from suckler beef to a dairy beef enterprise, finishing 100 cattle per year alongside a breeding ewe flock and arable enterprise. The business has reviewed each enterprise and made changes to simplify and integrate them to work in harmony with the land they have. Sarah has also developed a new self-catering holiday let business. Sarah graduated from Harper Adams University in 2019, with a degree in Agriculture and Farm Business Management. She then spent a year working on an 850hd spring calving dairy farm in Fairlie, New Zealand with farm manager Will Green, and farm owners Leonie and Kieran Guiney. Here she developed a passion for pasture-first regenerative livestock enterprises alongside experience of the role of people management in creating a healthy work-life balance.
Sarah joined Precision Grazing in 2019 and has since worked with dairy, beef and sheep clients throughout the UK. Her experience ranges from the design and implementation of grazing systems to planning and budgeting for new livestock enterprises, often with arable farmers who are starting "from scratch". Sarah is also an expert in pasture measurement and grazing management, responsible for managing the Welsh Pasture Project as well as a facilitator for several dairy discussion groups throughout Wales.
She is passionate about helping clients improve the physical and financial performance of their businesses, by putting pasture-based systems, with a focus on soil health first. Aside from farming Sarah's interests include playing netball, horse riding and taking the time to visit her friends and family across the UK.
"Farming is becoming an increasingly complex business; I am passionate about implementing simple but profitable and environmentally beneficial systems. I especially enjoy helping people learn new knowledge and skills, and gain confidence in pasture-based systems, seeing how this alone can improve a farm business is very rewarding."