A sheep farmer from Ceredigion has highlighted the important role livestock plays in managing the environment but stressed that the industry must also adjust its practises in a responsible way to meet the needs of our ever-changing world.

Anwen Hughes farms 80 acres at Bryngido farm, just outside of Aberaeron, in partnership with her husband Rhodri. The family keep around 200 Lleyn and Lleyn cross ewes on a low input- high output, grass-based system.

Anwen has been farming since 1995.

Over the years Anwen and Rhodri have adapted the way they manage the land and livestock to be more in tune with the environment. Today no fertilizer is used on farm and antibiotics are used in a targeted way.

This has also drastically reduced input cost for the farm business, resulting in higher profitability with a gentler footprint.

Rotational grazing plays a big part within the system, which ensures concentrate feed is only brought in if absolutely essential.

The couple now also lamb later in the year, which further reduces cost and reduce their carbon foot print as less feed needs to be brought in, from buying in feed.

Anwen and Rhodri buy in silage that is needed during the winter as this also better manages their Soil nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels in the soil.

Speaking from her farm on World Environment Day (Wednesday 5 June), Anwen said: “As farmers we experience the weather directly and see how our land and livestock are affected by floods and droughts, how declining biodiversity can impact the entire eco system and the wider consequences that can have. There is a balance we must find in how we produce nutrient dense food, such as Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, whilst also looking after the land on which we grow that food.”

Looking after the soil and water quality, as well as monitoring their grass growth and rotational grazing, are therefore practises that have become the norm at Bryngido farm.

“Here on the farm I look after ancient woodland, restore the soil, as well as producing food. I try to do that as gently as is possible. As an industry we are best placed to look after the land. We have the knowledge and expertise but we mustn’t be complacent. New ways of doing things, if they are proven to be better for the environment and also benefit the wider aims of producing food, should be embraced.

“Farming has come a long way here in Wales but we must strive to do better – for the environment but also for our own food security,” she added.

HCC’s Head of Sustainability and Future Policy, Rachael Madeley-Davies, said: “Anwen’s system is a key example of how producing nutritious food and positively maintaining and managing the natural environment go hand-in-hand, reflecting the positive attitudes of Welsh farmers who embrace this method of production.”