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Innovative Farmers Network Day 2018

May 9, 2018 @ 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

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When Innovative Farmers was launched in 2015, it was on the back of one idea – that many of the best ideas in farming come from farmers. We were working with farmers whose ideas were transforming their own businesses, but they were often going it alone. At the same time, we were talking to researchers who wanted their work to have real impact, to work on projects that would be put into practice straight away. The network was designed to bring these two groups together: innovative farmers, who ensure the field labs are relevant to their business and the research stays practical, and progressive researchers who bring rigour to the on-farm trials.

The concept of farmer-led research is really gaining traction. In 2018, there are more field labs than ever. They’re being driven by farmers and growers who want to make their businesses more resilient and sustainable, and they’re being supported by organisations that see value in this approach.

On Wednesday 9 May, farmers are getting together to share and showcase experiments on different systems and techniques.

All welcome – farmers, advisors and researchers.


Current programme

09.00    Registration and refreshments

09.30    Welcome and introduction

Liz Bowles: Head of Farming, Soil Association

09.45    Better Soils

There are more field labs on soil than on any other topic, so it feels appropriate to start the day from the ground up. Hear the latest on soil-themed field labs, ask soil scientists about existing research, and plan what farmer-led research should be discovering next about our soils.

Adrian Hares (Roundhill Farm)
Field Lab: Improving Soil with Co-Composted FYM >
Phillip Hubbert (Jepco)
Field Lab: Improving Soil Health across a Shared Rotation >
Edward Scott (Riverford Organic Farmers)
Field Labs: Zone Tillage for Lower Inputs & Healthy Soil >
Richard Suddes (South Farm)
Field Lab: In-Field Variation in No-Till Systems >
Dr John Hammond (University of Reading)
Field Lab: Improving Soil with Co-Composted FYM >
Chair: David Gardner (Innovation for Agriculture)

11.00    Refreshments

11.45    Managing cover crops

Cover crops can help protect soil, build organic matter, reduce leaching, control weeds and have countless other advantages. But they can be tricky to manage, and the costs are often easier to count than the benefits. What are the secrets to making the best of them? Farmers will share what results they are having above and below ground.

Ali Capper (Stocks Farm) 
Field Lab: Improving Hop Soils Through Cover Cropping >
James Alexander (Primewest Ltd)
Field Lab: Alternative Methods for Terminating Cover Crops >
Jake Freestone (Overbury Farms)
Field Lab: Intercropping in Arable Systems >
Dr Lydia Smith (NIAB)
Field Lab: Increasing Nutrient Efficiency from Anaerobic Digestate >
Chair: Ian Wilkinson (Cotswold Seeds)

13.00    Lunch

14.00    Sector sessions: Arable, Livestock and Horticulture

In the afternoon, we will break out into 3 separate sessions. Similar to the earlier sessions, you will hear from farmers testing ideas across the country. These short sessions will give you an insight into farmers experiences of trialling techniques on their own farm across the arable, livestock and horticulture sectors.

Arable panellists include:
Andrew Blenkiron (Euston Estate)
Field Lab: Increasing Nutrient Efficiency from Anaerobic Digestate >
Paul Redmore (Neston Park Farm)
Field Lab: Combinable Organic Protein Crops for Livestock >
Andy Howard (Bockhanger Farm)
Field Lab: Intercropping in Arable Systems >
Dominic Amos (Organic Research Centre)
Chair: Alice Midmer (LEAF)

Horticulture panellists include:
Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld (The Land Gardeners) 
Field Lab: Producing Efficient High-Quality Humified Compost >
Iain Tolhust (Tolhurst Organics)
Field Lab: Amendments for Soil Health in Top Fruit >
Chris Molyneux (Molyneux Kale Company)
Field Lab: Green Manures to Increase N Availability >
Sally Westaway (Organic Research Centre)
Field Lab: Amendments for Soil Health in Top Fruit >
Chair: Ben Raskin (Soil Association)

Livestock panellists include:
Luppo Diepenbroek
Field Lab: Origins of Mycotoxins in Feed and Forage Silage >
Richard Gordon (Court Farm)
Field Lab: Improving the Targeting of Mastitis Treatments >
Andy King (Coombe Farm)
Field Lab: Iron Deficiency Prevalence in Dairy Calves >
Dr. Anna Thomson (Reading University)
Field Lab: Herbal Leys for Dairy >
Lizzie Sagoo (ADAS)
Chair: Sam Durham (NFU)

15.20    Closing words and refreshments

16.00    Close




Innovative Farmers


Sheepdrove Organic Farm & Eco-Conference Centre
Sheepdrove Road
Lambourn, RG17 7UU United Kingdom
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