This year’s Innovative Farmers Network day takes place on Wednesday 9 May 2018 at Sheepdrove Farm, Berkshire. Farmers and researchers from across the UK will come together to discuss past, present and future Innovative Farmers field labs and explore what the future of farmer-led research may look like. Open to members and non-members alike, the event will discuss some of the diverse challenges facing agriculture and look at how grass-roots research and development can help to tackle them.
A key focus area for agriculture right now, and the topic being investigated by more field labs than any other, is soil health. David Gardner, Chief Executive at Innovation for Agriculture, will chair a panel discussion with farmers and soil scientists, exploring existing research and asking what we need to investigate in the future. He said: “Farmers have an important part to play in shaping and delivering research that helps their industry become more resilient, but farmer-led R&D still accounts for too small a portion of agricultural innovation. This event is about celebrating the work that farmers are already doing to take a lead in research, but it’s also about asking what more needs to be done, and about encouraging more farmers to get involved.”
There are currently more than 30 active field labs across the UK, with a further 6 in development this year. They cover diverse topics, searching for solutions to practical challenges in farming: from exploring alternatives to glyphosate for cover crop termination; investigating home-grown protein; tackling iron deficiency in dairy calves and making the most of anaerobic digestate. Farmers and researchers involved in these and other field labs will take part in presentations and discussions at the event, sharing some of the findings already achieved from on-farm trials and looking ahead to what could be delivered by further research.
Sam Durham, Chief Land Management Adviser at NFU, will chair a group session exploring livestock research, which will include discussions of field labs trialling herbal leys for livestock feed and understanding iron deficiency in dairy calves. He said: “For me this day is all about opportunities: it’s a chance for any farmer or grower to come along and see what’s happening in agricultural research; it’s a chance for those already involved in research to see what others are doing and gain more insight; and it’s an opportunity for those of us who are involved in shaping and leading the industry to hear directly from those on the ground what they want to see in the future.”
Tickets cost from £30 and include refreshments and an excellent farm lunch. Find out more, view the full schedule and book your place at www.innovativefarmers.org/events