At the Houses of Parliament this week an unprecedented partnership of farming groups launched a new network to support innovation by farmers. ‘Innovative Farmers’ gives farmers research support and funding on their own terms.
In a world where most agricultural research happens off-farm, this puts farmers firmly in the driving seat. The network is part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme, funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. The Soil Association, Organic Research Centre and Waitrose have been partners in the programme and are now joined by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) and Innovation in Agriculture, ensuring that the new network represents farmers and growers across the industry.
David Gardner from Innovation in Agriculture said: “It is crucial that we support on-farm innovation if we are to meet the challenges ahead. Conventional farmers have fewer chemicals to address their problems along with growing pest and weed resistance to those that remain. They will need to find other solutions using the tools that they do have combined with farming practices based upon sound organic principles. Finding the answers won’t be straightforward, and providing a framework where farmers can explore potential solutions with their peers and experiment on their own farms can only help them find the answers.”
Innovative Farmers recognises that many of the best ideas in farming come from farmers. They trial, test and analyse, often in isolation.