News Projects

Farmers to train robots to spot slugs

Farmers are being called on to help train robots to spot slugs and the damage they cause to arable crops.

The ground-breaking trial, set to start in the spring, will equip the ‘Slug Sleuths’ with special rigs designed to improve the complex machine-learning algorithms used to identify the slimy pests.

Farmers interested in taking part are invited to join a webinar on 10 January at 8:30am.

The trial is part of SLIMERS, a £2.6M Defra-funded project to develop new management strategies to help farmers achieve more sustainable slug control in arable crops.

The new work will run in-parallel with another component of the project which analyses the distribution of slugs in arable fields. This information will help the team to develop more sustainable approaches to the use of pellets by targeting only the patches where the pest gathers.

Farmers are already successfully delivering the field experiments for this investigation and the SLIMERS project is now seeking similar support to investigate slug control using the application of biological agents (nematodes) with an autonomous robot.

“We developed the concept of autonomous slug control through the SlugBot project, funded by Innovate UK,” explains Technical Lead for SLIMERS Dr Jenna Ross, OBE, of Agri-Tech Centre CHAP.

Farmers will use special rigs to help train the robot AI

“This work enabled robots to identify slugs and then spot-treat them with advanced alternative biological control methods.

“These new trials will put that proof of concept to the test in real field situations. But we need farmers to use their skill and judgement to train the robot AI.”

Special rigs, equipped with the latest camera technology, have been designed and are currently being built by SLIMERS project partner The Small Robot Co (SRC).

Farmers will use these to mimic a robot moving through the field and direct the rig to the patches where slugs gather to devour the crop.

Thousands of multi-spectral images of slug infestation will be gathered and fed into the machine-learning algorithms that will soon be used to find slugs and treat them without any human intervention, notes Ray King, Lead Mechanical Engineer at SRC.

“Robots learn as they go. The more images we gather, the better they will be at identifying this important pest.”

At the webinar on 10 January, Ray will give an insight into the world-leading technology SRC has developed to identify pests and pathogens in arable fields, and explain how the trial will work.

Dr Kerry McDonald-Howard who has recently joined CHAP, will share some of her expertise on Phasmarhabditis species – parasitic nematodes that feeds on slugs.

“It’s a highly effective natural predator you can spot spray at a low cost to an area where a slug is found,” she notes.

Ray King

The farmer ‘Slug Sleuths’ recruited to use the rigs to train the AI will be paid to carry out the work and gather the data by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN).

“Farmers who know their fields know where slugs gather and where the damage is greatest,” notes BOFIN Founder and Managing Director Tom Allen-Stevens.

“The work on patch treatment of slugs previously funded at Harper Adams University by AHDB and now being developed under SLIMERS has refined this by proving that other slug patches also occur in all fields.

“Targeting all these areas with slug pellets results in commercially viable and environmentally sustainable control. In practice these patches also offer the target areas for the robot to operate in, reducing the area they need to search.

“At the webinar we’ll explain how farmers will be paid to help transfer this knowledge to the robot AI.”

Farmers encouraged to come forward would be those planning to establish a spring cereal in a slug-infested field with a keen understanding of the pest and a determination to harness new technology to control them.

To sign up to the free webinar go to You can also be involved in SLIMERS by joining the 160+ volunteer Slug Scouts.

These farmers and gardeners have been sending in slugs to the CHAP laboratory at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire to help further train the AI’s slug recognition and identify crop damage caused by the slimy pest.


The NCS Project

– November Update –

We are so impressed by how many sign-ups PulsePEP has already had as we get closer and closer to our goal of 200 farmers! If you are interested in the NCS Project and would like to stay updated or get involved click on the button below!

Dates for the diary:

29th November 2023 – We will be hosting the official launch of PulsePEP on day 1 of CropTec. The event will start at 11:30am and you will be able to find us in The Oak Tree building within the Warwick Complex. We want to see as many of you come along as possible. Make sure to let us know if you are planning on attending!


The NCS Project Newsletter

Partner Updates

Here you can find content shared by some of the NCS Project partners. This content includes podcasts, farmer stories, new data and a deeper look into the science.

At the 4th International Legume Society Meeting in Granada September 19th to 22nd, JHI shared a poster detailing long-term legume-based cropped systems for Ecological Intensification. Click here to see the full poster.

Through this, JHI were invited to talk on Good Morning Scotland – you can listen to this piece with Pete Iannetta here.

Trials conducted back in 2015 and 2016 explored a range of opportunities for boosting the protein content of the wholecrop cereal silage the Flemings have always grown to provide extra winter fodder and a productive crop under which to establish new grass leys. Of the six mixtures trialled in the first year, spring barley and peas proved the most productive, yielding 7.4 tonnes DM/ha at 13% protein for a cost of 17p/kg of protein. In 2016, spring barley and yellow lupins took top spot with 9.2 t DM/ha at 12% protein for a cost of 15p/kg.

Read the full case study here.

With the roasting and dehulling trials commencing in mid – October. The beans harvested last month were collected from G Mellor & Partners and are being stored whilst preparations continue at the trail site. The JK Machinery and Mecmar processing equipment is ready for installation and the trail is due to be completed in early November.

Norfolk arable farmer, Charlie Davison, has rented parts of his 620-acre farm to carrot growers for many years. The crop provides a useful break from the winter wheat he grows for milling and seed on Game Farm in West Bilney, near Kings Lynn.

Read the full article here.


Project Press Coverage

Here you will find the press coverage of our various projects with key links. Let us know if you have any questions or require more information.
Farmers Weekly
CPM Magazine
Fresh Produce Journal
Agronomist & Arable Farmer

SLIMERS Project Press Release

£2.6M Defra-funded project launched to revolutionise slug control

A new £2.6M project has been launched which seeks to provide arable farmers with precision slug control solutions. Strategies Leading to Improved Management and Enhanced Resilience Against Slugs (SLIMERS) is a three-year £2.6M research project involving over 100 UK farms and six industry partners, funded by Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme and delivered by Innovate UK.
The consortium of UK companies, research institutes and farmer networks, led by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN), intends to provide two specific services to control slugs more sustainably.
“Since the ban on metaldehyde, there is now only one form of chemical control for slugs – ferric phosphate pellets – so protecting the longevity of this will require both a strategic and precision approach to slug management,” says project lead and BOFIN founder, Tom Allen-Stevens.
“Slugs are arable farming’s biggest pest issue which is estimated to cost the UK industry about £43.5M per year. Developing solutions to tackle these pests sustainably could be a game-changer for the entire industry and wider supply chain.”
Project aims
The aims are to reduce reliance on slug pellet usage through precision application of treatments to slug hotspots and advance alternative biological control, both via an economically viable approach.
Dr Jenna Ross OBE from UK Agri-Tech Innovation Centre, Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) is the project’s technical lead. “I travelled the world in 2018 as a Nuffield Farming scholar and noticed a gap in the market for improved slug control. 
“Farmers urgently need alternative control measures that are effective, sustainable, environmentally and societally acceptable, and economically viable. This industrial focused research project utilises the consortium’s unique expertise and capabilities to develop cost-effective digital autonomous slug monitoring, forecasting and precision treatment tools, thus delivering on-farm game-changing solutions to benefit farmers.”

Slug Sleuths
The first stage of the project will be the recruitment of 30 ‘Slug Sleuths’ – a group of farmers determined to overcome their slug burdens – who will be selected and paid to host trials on their own farm. These farmers will test the developing technology and novel patch location forecasting to help researchers learn more about slug behaviour in a bid to create a long-term solution.
Next, the robots will move in, bringing infield cutting-edge slug identification and spot-treatment technology, building on the SlugBot project which was carried out by Small Robot Company and Crop Health & Protection (CHAP), funded by Innovate UK. The Slug Sleuths will work side-by-side with the autonomous bots to improve the AI models and advance pellet-free biological solutions.
While this technology will be tested infield by farmers, it will be supported and refined in laboratories, guided by leading scientists, and will include slug patch location forecasting and autonomous solutions for precision control.
How to get involved
Keen to expand the knowledge exchange beyond the core group of farmers, the project is also launching the Slug Circle – a platform and knowledge exchange hub designed to facilitate discussion, idea sharing and tips for best practice when it comes to slug burdens and controlling them.
The project team are urging farmers interested in being involved – or those who simply interested in alternative, precision techniques for control – to sign up now.
The project was officially launched to the industry on Wednesday 28 June at 1:00pm on the Small Robot Company stand (DF E27) at this year’s Groundswell event, with a follow up webinar to explain more about it and what’s on offer for farmers who wish to take part on 15 August at 8:30am. To register your interest in the Slug Circle Community, with no obligation click here.
More information about the project, including links to project partners and research initiatives that underpin the project can be found at
Notes to editors:

– Strategies Leading to Improved Management and Enhanced Resilience Against Slugs (SLIMERS) is a three-year £2.6M research programme involving more than 100 UK farms and six partners.

– The project aims are to develop two commercial services from current proof-of-concept technologies: patch prediction and precision mapping, and autonomous slug treatment using nematodes.

– The project is steered by science, guided by robots and proven by real farm enterprises, with the potential to make a significant difference to slug control strategies, with slug damage currently estimated to cost £43.5M a year.

– BOFIN (British On-Farm Innovation Network) leads the consortium – alongside technical lead, CHAP – that includes Harper Adams University, John Innes Centre, Agrivation and Small Robot Company.

– SLIMERS is funded by the Small R&D Partnership Projects, part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme. Defra are working in partnership with Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, who are delivering the programme. Project number: 10053286

– Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency. Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. It connects businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. More information about Innovate UK can be found at:
– Farmers are encouraged to join the Slug Circle community, a platform and knowledge exchange hub. For more, visit
– A selection of high-resolution pictures, including photos of key project representatives, general shots of slugs and logos can be found here.
– All press enquiries for SLIMERS should be directed to BOFIN Farmers, or contact Skye Melita (, 07483 238577)

The NCS Project Press Release

£5.9M Defra-funded pulse project launched to cut farm emissions

A new industry-leading project has been launched to help farmers reduce agricultural emissions by 1.5Mt CO₂e a year.
‘Nitrogen Efficient Plants for Climate Smart Arable Cropping Systems’ (NCS) is a four-year £5.9M ambitious research project involving 200 UK farms and 17 industry partners. Funded by Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme, and delivered by Innovate UK, the project is one of the ‘cutting-edge’ farming projects receiving a share of £30M of government funding, announced on Wednesday (31 May).
The consortium of UK companies, research institutes and farmer networks, led by PGRO, aims to bring about a reduction of 1.5Mt CO₂e per annum or 54% of the maximum potential for UK Agriculture.

Project aims
The bold, twin aims of the project are firstly to increase pulse cropping in arable rotations to 20% across the UK (currently 5%), and also to develop and test new feed rations. This will help livestock farmers with the project’s second aim, to substitute up to 50% of imported soya meal used in feed with more climate-friendly home-grown pulses and legumes.
These ambitions will be steered by science, but proven by farmers, through a series of paid-for on-farm trials.
“Everyone knows that pulses and legumes have considerable benefits for UK farming systems,” says PGRO Chief Executive, Roger Vickers, who leads the NCS consortium. “But these have never been truly and accurately measured. So their value has been sorely underplayed and their potential to address the climate crisis has gone unrecognised.
“Together we can change that. We now have the science, the tools and the know-how among UK farmers, not only to tap into that potential, but to develop it further. Bringing that talent together is what lies at the heart of NCS – it’s never been done before, and there’s never been a project on this scale with this much ambition.”

Pulse Pioneers
The first stage of the project will give 200 UK farmers direct support to establish their business’ carbon baseline, using the Farm Carbon Toolkit. The GHG emissions from these farms will then be tracked throughout the project and will form a fundamental part of the dataset.
The leading innovators among them will then be paid to work with scientists to co-design crop and feeding trials to carry out on their farms.
These ‘Pulse Pioneers’ will explore ways and means for soils to thrive, crop yields to build and livestock productivity to flourish, through better use and marketing of home-grown pulses and legumes.
The on-farm progress will be based on cutting-edge technologies and farming systems, incorporating some of the latest research and innovations from leading UK institutes and tech companies. These will be underpinned by a rigorous use of data, including the UK’s first ever full lifecycle analysis of cropping rotations and livestock systems.

How to get involved
Keen to expand the knowledge exchange beyond this core group of farmers, the project is also launching the PulsePEP (Performance Enhancing Platform), led by ADAS. This will be a hub for the farmer-led community striving to achieve the best from pulse crops and reduce carbon emissions, as well as a place for discussion on best-practice pulse cropping.
The project team are urging farmers interested in being involved – or those who just have a passion for pulses – to sign up now.

“This will be the defining project of our time,” believes Mr Vickers. “It’s not just the chance for UK Agriculture to make a seismic shift towards Net Zero, but it’ll also deliver a prosperous and resilient way of farming for communities worldwide.

“We want farmers to join us and be part of this exciting journey of discovery. You will shape it. Your knowledge and experience will enrich the science we’re bringing together. You will inspire others and accelerate the pace of change. And together we’ll achieve a farming future that is richly rewarding and immensely gratifying.”

The project will be officially launched on the PGRO stand at this year’s Cereals Event (13-14 June), with a follow up webinar to explain more about it and what’s on offer for farmers who wish to take part on Thursday15 June at 2:00pm. To register your interest in PulsePEP, with no obligation click here.

More information about the project, including links to project partners and research initiatives that underpin the project can be found at

The figures – explained
The annual reduction in CO₂ equivalent emissions can be achieved through: Increasing pulse and legume cropping areas to the rotational optimum of 20% (1M ha) across UK farms. This would reduce nitrogen fertiliser use by 233,000t, resulting in 0.55M tonnes CO₂e reduction.
Using the subsequent produce in animal feed, replacing 50% of imported soya meal and delivering a further 0.7M tonnes CO₂e reduction.

The residual nitrogen benefit to following crops through soil enrichment, leading to an additional 0.25M tonnes CO₂e reduction.

Notes to editors:

– Nitrogen Efficient Plants for Climate Smart Arable Cropping Systems (NCS) is a four-year £5.9M research programme involving 200 UK farms and 17 partners.
– The project aims to bring about a reduction of 1.5Mt CO₂e per annum or 54% of the maximum potential for UK agriculture through increasing pulse and legume cropping in arable rotations to 20% across the UK and replacing 50% of imported soya meal used in livestock feed rations with home-grown pulses and legumes.
– The project is steered by science and proven by real farm enterprises, with significant benefits for both crop and livestock productivity, including cost savings of over £1bn/yr.
– PGRO (Processors and Growers Research Organisation) leads the consortium that includes AB Agri, ADAS, Agrii, BOFIN(British On-Farm Innovation Network), Cranfield University, Farm Carbon Toolkit, Firstmilk, GWCT (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust), The James Hutton Institute, Kelvin Cave, LC Beef Nutrition, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), McArthur Agriculture, PBL Technology, SRUC and Wessex Water.

– The NCS Project is funded by the Farming Futures R&D Fund: Climate smart farming, part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme. Defra are working in partnership with Innovate UK who are delivering the programme. Project number: 10043778
– The project is one of more than 50 cutting-edge farming projects receiving a share of £30M, announced by Defra on Wednesday, 31 May. See the Defra announcement here and details of the winning projects on the Innovate UK website here.
– Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency. It supports business-led innovation in all sectors, technologies and UK regions, helping businesses grow through the development and commercialisation of new products, processes, and services.
– Farmers are encouraged to join the PulsePEP community, a platform and knowledge exchange hub. For more, visit
– A selection of high-resolution pictures, including photos of key project representatives, general shots of pulse and legume crops and logos can be found here.

All press enquiries for NCS should be directed to BOFIN Farmers, or contact Charlotte Cunningham (, 07547 100974) or Skye Melita (, 07483 238577)



Welcome to BOFIN News! On this page we will talk you through all the exciting things that BOFIN has been up to and is expecting to happen over the next month, along with exciting announcements.

Do also check out our ‘Flaggable Things’ to find out about new and exciting initiatives.

November 2023

Join us at CropTec to hear our big announcements!

We are excited to announce that on Day 1 of the CropTec 2023 we will be making to make two BIG announcements as part of the SLIMERS project and NCS project.

LOCATION: The Oak Tree building within the Warwick Complex

TIME: 11:30 – 3:00PM

If you are involved with either of these projects and planning on attending then please get in touch with to let us know. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.

October 2023

Slug Sleuth duties are underway!

We are excited to announce that all farmers that have signed up to be Slug Sleuths as part of the SLIMERS project are busy having their trial sites monitored and set up with traps! We are also in the process of setting them up on the Husk Data app which is being used to record, monitor and store all data as part of the project trials. Click here to take a look at the Husk Data website. The app is:

01. Fast & Agile

We are being asked to farm more efficiently and to do that we need to record what we have done. Data can be boring to capture but it needs to be done at the time or it is never available again!

02.  Accurate & Paperless

On farm we need to know what we have done, what we have, and where it is; where the bales are and how many of them, what grain has been moved and from where. We have created a simple system that can replace all data that is currently captured with handwritten forms (and lots of data that is not captured at all) and collect it in one place.

03. Real-Time Data Capture

Data capture is an increasingly vital element in determining a farms efficiency, and in the future it will be essential for accessing Carbon reduction payments and proving environmental work.

September 2023

Farmer-Focus Writers

New Agtech magazine seeks Farmer Focus writers

Do you have a flair for writing and would you like to share your views on innovation with like-minded farmers?

We’re looking for BOFIN farmer members who would like to write a one-off or regular column as Farmer Focus writers for a brand-new magazine that will be published alongside Direct Driller.

AgTech Farmer will bring quality editorial and in-depth analysis to the world of agritech innovations. But more than anything it’s about the farmers pioneering the farming systems of the future who are leading the Fourth Agricultural Revolution.

We’re particularly keen for Farmer Focus writers with experience of robots, automation or AI, who have helped develop new ways with drones or shaped tech gadgetry to solve an on-farm issue. Or perhaps you have a vision of the future – you can place yourself in 2030 and write about the farming system, the politics and the marketplace you will face.

BOFIN members farm at the coalface of innovation – no other farmers have knowledge of such value, nor can offer insight with more credibility. If you can put this into words, this is the chance to put yourself at the leading edge of farming’s journey to a new frontier, to define how it shapes up and whom it rewards. Anyone interested should contact by 15 September.

August 2023

Stakeholder Coexistence Dialogue On Precision-Bred Organisms

Thank you to all of those who took part earlier this year in our survey to gather your views on precision-bred organisms (PBOs) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Charlotte and I pulled your views together and presented them to Defra and also handed in a report. We understand they found this very useful.

BOFIN members have now been invited by Defra to take part in a stakeholder dialogue to gather views on coexistence of PBOs and organic agriculture, and to work towards establishing a non-legislative coexistence code of practice.

Participants will be invited to an online workshop and will be given the opportunity to express views on current coexistence measures and how these could be adopted for PBOs with other industry representatives.

Participating BOFIN members would play an active role in developing a coexistence code of practice. Defra views this as key for the widescale adoption of PBOs. Depending on interest, the number of BOFIN members invited to participate may be limited.

If you are interested in taking part, please let me know by email at by Friday 28 July. Those who take part will be agreeing for BOFIN to pass their contact details to Defra.

July 2023

Cereals Event 13th-14th June
We had a great time at the Cereals event 2023 engaging with lots of people interested in joining BOFIN and learning all about the projects that we are involved in. Whilst at Cereals, we launched the NCS Project on the PGRO stand and had many eager sign-ups for the PulsePEP which you can join here! Click here to watch our video of our Cereals 2023 highlights.

Royal Highland Show 22nd-23rd June

At the Royal Highland Show, we introduced BOFIN along with the projects we are involved with to our Scottish friends! Many of you showed great interest and signed-up to various projects. It was great to meet lots of new engaged farmers interested in on-farm trials.

Western Arable Grain Store Show 24th June

At the Grain Store Show we managed to engage with many local farmers interested in peas, beans and on-farm trials! BOFIN enjoyed the farm tour and soil pit displayed, along with the existing trial fields on the farm. Lots of you showed good interest in BOFIN and we look forward to inviting to our knowledge circles within each of our projects!

Groundswell Event 28th-29th June
We enjoyed Groundswell 2023, with all of their great exhibitors and delicious food stands! On day 1, the Small Robot Company stand hosted the launch of SLIMERS where many of you came along for nibbles and drinks to learn how to get involved with this project aiming to tackle arable farmings’ biggest pest! Day 2 was all about results. A presentation was delivered by Tom Allen-Stevens and Tom Thirkell on the preliminary results of the Soil Fungal Communities Project. It was great to see so many existing members, along with many new faces!

June 2023

BOFIN would like to welcome Charlotte Cunningham and Skye Melita to the team!

Charlotte is our senior project manager. She is an award-winning freelance journalist and communications consultant, with expertise in the agriculture sector. Specifically, this includes knowledge on and experience in the fields of technical livestock and arable production She has a passion for telling the real stories of those on the ground, driving farming forward.

“Working with BOFIN creates a new opportunity to tell the stories of the latest, cutting-edge, farmer-led research and those on the ground driving the industry forward” says Charlotte.

Skye is our community manager. She has a MSc in Psychology and a background in website building, media and effective marketing. Skye is accomplished, enthusiastic and prolific on social media. Key skills include involving and engaging groups in the most effective way for company aims and objectives. Although new to the world of agriculture, she is keen to bring a fresh perspective.

Say hello and introduce yourself by email: OR


We have many exciting days here at BOFIN and we want our members to feel as included with our projects, events and daily findings as possible. Therefore, we have started our very own YouTube channel. We will be posting different topics each week and will have very special guests joining us along the way. Follow our YouTube journey by subscribing to our channel!


‘Flaggable Things’

We hope that you can explore this post of initiatives that may well capture your interest! Get in touch to let us know about your initiatives so that we can share them in our Newsletter! We would also love to hear any comments or thoughts on shared initiatives below in the comments section!

The Research Starter competition funds farmers, growers and foresters with ambitious, early-stage ideas to increase productivity and environmental sustainability in agriculture or horticulture.

Defra and Innovate UK work together via the Farming Innovation Programme to deliver the Research Starter competition.

For this competition, the Innovate UK KTN AgriFood team provides one-to-one support to help applicants to refine their initial ideas into a project, identify the right partners to work with to take it forward, and complete the final stage of the application process.

CHAP’s New Innovations Workshop – Alternative Proteins

CHAP is conducting its second stakeholder workshop as part of a series aimed at gathering insights from the food and farming sector and related industries. The workshop focuses on discussing primary challenges, innovative solutions, and creating a business case to secure funding for CHAP’s efforts in fostering sector adaptation, addressing market gaps, and facilitating pivotal advancements in the industry. 

Farm Carbon Toolkit’s Annual Field Day

During the day they will showcase all the ways in which farmers are already changing farming practice to respond to the need to reduce emissions and build on farm carbon within resilient farm businesses.

They will also share insights from the work they are doing supporting farmers to reduce GHG emissions and remove carbon into soils and biomass. This involves key elements of the transition to a nature friendly decarbonisation of agriculture. 

Opportunity for a funded BioNomad™ micro Anaerobic Digestion (AD) system
As part of their commercial launch strategy, EcoNomad Solutions has secured funding through the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (run by DESNZ) to subsidise a number of commercial demonstrator installations of the BioNomad™ v1.0 systems here in the UK.
Their partners for these sites will trial a BioNomad™ system on their farm, helping to gather valuable operational data and user feedback on how to best integrate the system into existing farm operations. They aim to showcase the versatility and benefits of their simplified, small-scale on-farm AD solution. In return, the pioneering partners will benefit from an attractive package of subsidised equipment and support from EcoNomad – as well as free biogas and biofertiliser produced by the system.

Does this sound like something you could help with? If so, click below to provide a few details. A researcher will then be in touch with further information!

The Pulse YEN (Yield Enhancement Network) is a pulse crop network for farmers, advisors, industry and scientists that is jointly facilitated by ADAS and PGRO. It has been operating since 2016 and has had more than 250 crop entrants since then. The Pulse YEN works by farmers entering one or more of their combining pea or field bean crops into the Pea YEN or Bean YEN networks respectively. Information is then collected about the crop, inputs, soil and weather, which is then used to explain how the crop achieved its yield and identify aspects of crop management and the growing environment that could be changed to increase crop performance. The Pulse YEN forms an important part of contributing to the NCS project objectives by:

a) Engaging pulse farmers, agronomists and industry into action research and a route into the NCS project’s active Pulse PEP community

b) Contributing to the confidence and knowledge base for achieving higher pulse crop yields more reliably, thereby helping to increase the area of pulse crops grown in the UK. 

c) Provide a standardised way to capture agronomy, soil and crop data for the project to calculate carbon footprints and life cycle analysis associated with growing pulses. 

If this is something that sounds interesting to you then join by clicking below:

Alternatively, contact or Anybody can join up to mid-June. For most entrants we will be able to arrange participation at no cost via sponsorship.

Farm Carbon Toolkit are holding a competition for the Carbon Farmer of the Year! Think this could be you or know of a farm you could nominate? Find out more information here or click here to enter or nominate a farm now!

If you have interest in the work that Far Carbon Toolkit does, make sure to attend the Farm Carbon Toolkit Annual Field Day 2023 – Thursday 21st September. Find out more information here!

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Join the quest for weed seed solutions

Farmers with tricky grassweeds to control are invited to take part in an exciting new farmer-led project as part of the second year of BOFIN trials on harvest weed seed control (HWSC).

The call is out for Seed Scouts – farmers who will monitor and sample grassweeds in their crop as harvest approaches and send these in to NIAB for analysis. Those interested should contact OR

Every farmer who takes part in the study will get tailored information on the likely level of efficacy of HWSC, which opens up a new chemical-free form of grassweed control and helps reduce dependence on glyphosate. The Seed Scouts will also be taking part in the UK’s first ever farmer-led survey of grassweeds left standing at harvest. Experience in other countries has shown this is a valuable window to tackle tricky grassweeds, such as ryegrass and meadow brome.

Also revealed during the webinar will be plans for further on-farm trials of the Redekop Seed Control Unit (SCU) that will take place on three UK farms this harvest, building on last year’s results.

Anyone with an interest in the technology can register to attend the webinar and will join the BOFIN Seed Circle tracking progress and helping to shape the project. Farmers in particular are encouraged to sign up as Seed Scouts and take part in this important weed survey

Will Smith, research agronomist at NIAB will talk through how to sample crops, the help provided to Seed Scouts and how the trials will be run with the SCU.

Adam Driver of Driver Farms, Suffolk, leads the project and has an SCU fitted to his Claas Lexion 8800. He’ll share experiences from last harvest and discuss what he’s looking to gain from this year’s trial.

Trevor Thiessen, co-owner and president at Redekop Manufacturing will join the discussion from Canada, offering further insight into the SCU and bring us up to date on latest developments.

On the 18 May 2023 a webinar took place discussing the Harvest Weed-Seed Control project. The panel addressed questions and discussed suggestions live from webinar attendees. The focus of this webinar was to bring in prospective Seed Scouts to refine how the sampling will work.

If this webinar seems like something you feel you missed out on, please contact OR to request a recording of the webinar!

Year one results

While this year’s trial is funded by the Defra Farming Innovation Programme, delivered by Innovate UK, it carries on from a farmer-led study, funded by Redekop into HWSC.

Last year, three UK farmers took part in the trial, coordinated by BOFIN, during which Will drew up protocols for sampling and analysing the weeds left standing at harvest, building on NIAB expertise in this area.

“The only way HWSC will work is if the seeds are available to the machinery at harvest,” notes Will. “We currently know little about how much viable seed goes into the combine – there’s very limited work on this in the UK and Europe.”

In 2022, three Redekop SCUs were imported and fitted to the farmers’ combines prior to harvest, with the help of Oria Agriculture. Jake Freestone of Overbury Enterprises in Worcestershire has one on his John Deere S790i combine and has a bit of a problem with meadow brome.

Italian ryegrass is grassweed enemy number one for Warwickshire grower and Velcourt farm manager Ted Holmes, who been trialling a unit fitted to his New Holland CR9.90.

And in Suffolk, Adam has noticed a build-up of blackgrass in the chaff lines behind his Claas Lexion 8800, running on a no-till 12/36m controlled-traffic farming system. He’s also hoping the SCU keeps meadow brome in check.

Two fields on Ted’s farm were closely monitored, in winter and spring barley, and both had a high Italian ryegrass population. “There are two critical monitoring periods,” explains Will. “Firstly, we want to know the population of viable seed standing at harvest, which involves taking representative samples just before the combine goes through. “Then we monitor what emerges into the following crop once autumn cultivations and drilling are complete.”

Will’s now developed a protocol for farmers to take their own pre-harvest sample. “It’s impractical to have to wait for a weed scientist before you get the combine out. But just a little instruction on how to sample helped the farmers take good, representative samples. They sent these into NIAB for assessment.

“For Italian ryegrass the figures were 62% in Warwickshire in winter barley and 87% for spring barley. These figures are high, but testing of the seed found that a lot of the IRG seed in the spring barley was unviable, and we think that was due to the hot, dry conditions.”

Effect of the Redekop SCU in winter and spring barley:

The surprise result in the 2022 sampling was blackgrass in a field of winter wheat Adam monitored in Suffolk. “We found 54% of this was retained at harvest, so there’s more available to the SCU than we had thought. But we should consider the hot and dry conditions of the 2022 harvest,” notes Will.

Source: NIAB, 2022, Warwickshire. IRG seed shed into winter barley (left) and spring barley (right), with emerged seedlings counted on 26 October in oilseed rape and winter beans respectively. Note: the spring barley field was subsoiled, which may have introduced more seed from previous years. Figures shown are averages across two strips in each field, with multiple transects taken in each strip.

Following crop

Will returned to the farms in late October to make a full assessment of emerged grassweeds. “In the field following winter barley in Warwickshire there was a 60% reduction from the SCU. In spring barley, the result was lower – a 44% reduction – but then a lot of the seed was unviable, so we’d expect a lower result.”The eventual aim of the study is to gather data across a range of crops and key grassweeds of the amount of viable seed standing at harvest. “What we’ve achieved this year is a useful snapshot, but we’ll need a lot more growers to take part to build a really valuable dataset,” notes Will.

And that’s the plan for harvest this year. It revolves around the Seed Circle – 140 farmers, scientists and others who have registered interest in the trial and are kept actively involved.

“Feedback from the group has indicated they’re keen to do their own on-farm trials, so we’ve developed the protocol into a simple procedure any farmer can apply just before harvesting their crop. The Seed Scouts who sign up will receive a full sampling pack with instructions that will give them an accurate picture of how much seed has been shed to help them plan subsequent control.”The value of sampling has wider implications, he adds. “It’ll build into a rich dataset, across crops, locations and grassweeds, on the efficacy of HWSC. This is data we simply don’t have at present in UK conditions.

“The more farmers who get involved, the more we’ll understand about the efficacy of HWSC and its potential to open a new, completely chemical-free window on keeping the trickiest of grassweeds under control,” concludes Will.


New farmer-led group champions insecticide-free wheat

Wheat growers who want to leave behind the use of insecticides on their crop are invited to join a new farmer-led group that will develop the tools and the knowledge so they can do so with confidence, and benefit from new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) payments.

Anyone with a resolve to support the abundance of beneficial insects in arable crops can join the Genserus Circle that will come together at a webinar on Thursday 20 April at 8:30am, hosted by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN).

The initiative brings into perspective new genetics that offer protection to wheat crops from the day they’re planted to the date of harvest. It highlights practices that both build a thriving biodiversity and support productivity in the field.

Avoiding the cost of BYDV is for many farmers the only reason they still use insecticide on wheat.

The Genserus BYDV-resistant trait removes the need to apply insecticides to wheat early in the season, which for many farmers is the only time insecticide is used on the crop.

Coupled with other Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques proven to boost beneficial insects, this allows growers to go insecticide-free without risking losses from pest damage, and to benefit from the new £45/ha incentive available through Defra’s SFI.

“Growers who want take advantage of this payment can de-risk themselves by growing a Genserus variety,” says Lee Bennett of RAGT Seeds who have brought the BYDV-resistant trait to market.

Lee Bennett

At the webinar on Thursday 20 April, Lee will give an insight into the genetics and the UK field trials that have scoped their performance.

“We’ve also been investigating the use of companion crops, examining their effect on the performance of a range of RAGT winter wheat varieties,” he says.

“This will help growers looking to benefit from the additional £55/ha payment included in the new IPM standard of SFI.”

Martin Lines

Joining Lee on the panel for the webinar is Martin Lines, UK Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, who will highlight ways in which enhancing habitats to boost beneficial insects can bring business, as well as environmental benefits.

Neil Potts

Neil Potts, an independent agronomist in the south west of England, offers a practical perspective on insecticide-free wheat. And Norfolk grower Kit Papworth who’s grown BYDV-resistant RGT Wolverine, relays where he is on the journey to going insecticide-free.

Webinar attendees will get the opportunity to suggest activities and initiatives that will make the most of the move to insecticide-free wheat. “We’re keen to support on-farm trials that will help inform how the genetics are best utilised, for example,” says Lee.

Kit Papworth

“The ultimate aim is for the Genserus Circle of growers to be at the forefront of a farming system that’s in harmony with nature as well as profitable and rewarding for all involved.”

The Genserus Circle is a BOFIN initiative supported by RAGT Seeds. AHDB Recommended List Group 4 candidate RGT Grouse combines the Genserus BYDV-resistant trait with resistance to orange wheat blossom midge.

To register for the webinar on Thursday 20 April at 8:30am and join the Genserus Circle, click the button below.