Farmer groups will be able to undertake research which benefits their farms as part of an initiative which is being expanded this year.
Innovative Farmers, launched at the Oxford Farming Conference, will match groups with a co-ordinator and researcher who will help test and develop new tools and techniques in practical on-farm ’field labs’.
The project started three years ago, and has so far involved 750 farmers covering 35 topics from reducing antibiotic use in dairy cows to blackgrass control.
It is part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme, funded by the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Foundation and backed by industry bodies including LEAF, BBSRC and research institutions.
Farmers involved in the initial three year project said it had ’turned them from advice takers to advice makers’, said Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning speaking at the launch.
Innovative Farmers aims to give more than £800,000 of funding to groups by 2020 and will guarantee farmer groups have access to 24 hours of time each year with a researcher. Farmers running all farming systems and throughout the UK are eligible to join.
Joining the network costs £240+vat per year, and if members decide it is not for them in the first year, they are entitled to a refund.
For more see www.innovativefarmers.org