Links and Likes

Here are some organisations and websites with useful information for those who conduct on-farm trials. If there’s a goodie we’re missing please let us know.

Innovative Farmers is a not for profit membership network, for farmers and growers who are running on-farm trials, on their own terms. Launched in 2015, it’s probably co-ordinating the most trials of this type, known as Field Labs. Working closely with researchers, these cover all aspects of farming, from herbal leys to cultivation practice, potato blight to mineral deficiencies in calves.

The ADAS Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) connects agricultural organisations and farmers who are striving to improve crop yields. Since 2012, it’s encouraged growers to regard their crops as converters of solar into edible energy and analyse their performance accordingly. It started with wheat, but now covers most combinable crops and grass, while YEN Nutrition focuses on grain analysis.

YEN Yield Testing, also from ADAS, brings together Farmer Innovation Groups (FIGs) to explore aspects of crop physiology, co-ordinated by ADAS researchers. ADAS has developed a number of resources to help farmers get better value from on-farm trials, such as the Guide to Farmers’ Crop Trials and Agronomics that takes yield data from the combine and uses spatial modelling and statistics to allow comparisons to be assessed with scientific rigour. yen-yield-testin

AHDB Monitor Farms bring together groups of like-minded farmers who wish to improve their businesses by sharing performance information and best practice around a nationwide network of host farms. The many farmer-led meetings at the host farms are an opportunity to identify and share challenges and solutions and scrutinise every aspect of the business. There’s also AHDB’s Strategic and SPot farms on which new ideas and technologies are taken through their paces, all with the support of AHDB and guidance from industry experts.

FarmInn is an initiative from Rothamsted Research designed to support innovative on-farm research projects which aim to provide real-world scientifically proven solutions to challenges faced by UK farmers. The farmer-focused projects bring together Rothamsted scientists and expertise with UK farmers to co-develop scientific research which can be implemented on farms.

Crop Production Magazine (CPM) is the leading UK journal for arable farmers, which specialises in bringing farmers news and in-depth analysis on arable innovations and how they’re implemented on farm. The magazine has championed the cause of those who conduct on-farm trials and regularly features articles on networks and individual farmers, along with their discoveries.

Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) works to inspire and enable sustainable farming that’s prosperous, enriches the environment and engages local communities. A network of LEAF Demonstration Farms comprises working, commercial farms practising Integrated Farm Management (IFM). Here, IFM best practice is discussed through events and farm walks with other farmers and wider groups such as politicians, industry and students.

BASF’s Real Results Circle brings together 50 growers who put the company’s latest technology to the test in farmer-led trials, using ADAS Agronomics to bring some scientific rigour to the on-farm trials. Open days and a virtual farm add to the resources designed to support growers across a wide range of crop protection issues.

Agrii’s Digital Technology Farms is a farmer-led initiative of nine growers and their agronomists across the country, aiming to establish the true benefits of precision farming technology through on-farm trials. The project is delivered in partnership with the company’s digital platform Rhiza.

Hutchinsons’ Helix is a farm-based research project investigating how new technologies and knowledge can be linked to help agronomists deliver the future of agronomic advice and benefits for farmers. Helix brings together innovative and relevant techniques and technologies in agriculture into two central locations, in Northants and Suffolk, and tests them at farm-scale.

BASE UK (Biology, Agriculture, Soil and Environment) is for farmers and individuals interested in conservation agriculture. It was formed to run in parallel with a group started in Brittany 10 years ago by Frederic Thomas which has now over 1000 members. It’s based on three core principles: minimum soil disturbance, residue cover on the soil, and rotations. Regular meetings and farm walks are an opportunity for members to share their experiences of techniques they’re trialling with input from experts.

The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) unites farmers who are passionate about wildlife and sustainable farming. It campaigns for better support and reward for the many farmers who are already playing a considerable role in helping wildlife flourish on their farms.