A decade of field labs

Now in its 10th year, the Innovative Farmers network is celebrating the success of more than 120 field labs that have placed farmers in the driving seat of agricultural research, with the network connected with around 12,000 UK farmers.

The Organic Research Centre has been a pioneer of participatory research and is proud to have been a partner from the start. We have been involved in a huge range of field labs:

Current field labs

No-till with living mulches

Organic hop varieties

Silvopasture for livestock, biodiversity and soil health

Paused field labs

Leguminous leys for organic dairy

Zone tillage for lower inputs and healthy soil

Past field labs

Compost teas in arable cropping

Land Gardeners Controlled-Aerobic-Compost group

Buckwheat for couch control

Anaerobic digestate in organic arable systems

Green manures to increase N availability

Improving soil health across a shared rotation

Amendments for soil health in top fruit

Intercropping in arable systems

Legumes for building fertility

Reducing potato blight with mesh covers

Growing quinoa organically in the UK

Growing heritage wheat varieties for thatching

Reducing antibiotic use in dairy farming

Comfrey teas for improved crop yields

Hot water seed treatment to reduce leaf spot

Feeding sprouted cereals and pulses to livestock

Cultural methods to control blackgrass

Organic wheat varieties

Weed control in cereal crops

Growing with peat-free woodchip compost

Mark Lea, Green Acres Farm, took part in the intercropping field lab, and is now working with Innovative Farmers to trial growing a permanent living mulch as an understory for his crops. He said: “Having researchers to come and measure has been a game changer. Before being involved in field labs I wouldn’t have really measured anything. I would have just looked at the crop and I’d be going on gut feeling. Now we’re working with a lot more precision, and this helps us develop our understanding and also allows us to share that understanding with other farmers.”

Innovative Farmers case study report

To kick off the 10th anniversary the Soil Association have published a 10-year special of the Field Lab Journal showcasing five cutting edge on-farm trials; from living mulches to trap crops, tomato sensors, cover crops in hops and couch grass control. You can read it on Innovative Farmers’ website, where you can also follow a link to the pdf if you’d prefer to read in this format instead.

Read Soil Association Press Release

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