Nearly 140 farmers and advisers, travelling from as far afield as Cornwall and Galloway, showed their enthusiasm and desire to access more practical information on sustainable agriculture when they attended the first Agricology ‘Open Day’ held at Daylesford farm in Gloucestershire on 28th June.
With agriculture facing huge challenges, the need to access best practice information has never been so crucial. Resolving issues such as soil health, animal welfare, pest management, reduced yields and environmental protection, whilst identifying workable solutions to suit individual business circumstances, is testing for most farm businesses in the current climate.
The aim of this first on-farm event was to encourage the exchange of ideas and to share practical information and experiences from all farming approaches, as well as showcasing examples of the excellent farmer-led innovation and research currently being hosted on the Agricology website.
Andrew Burgess, who runs a family business in East Anglia and one of 23 expert speakers on the day, outlined the successes of his large-scale vegetable-growing business that now employs more than 500 people. Andrew gave his view on how organic can successfully meet conventional agriculture. He said, “The Agricology programme makes such sense to me and I love the tag line ‘regardless of labels’. Science has always played a strong part in my decision making, whether that be understanding a pest or disease lifecycle to reduce risk or the efficacy and risk of resorting to an artificial input. In agriculture we are facing huge challenges, poor returns and political uncertainty and I am very pleased to support this initiative and stand here as both a LEAF and an organic farmer and to show that the sensible way forward is to use the best of both.”
Professor Nic Lampkin, from the Organic Research Centre concluded the day by saying, “A lot of the ideas about alternatives in farming, whether they are shaped by the organic or integrated end, share a huge amount of common ground. Agroecology is an umbrella term that picks up a lot of these ideas and it is about using ecology to manage farming systems in a more environmentally sensitive way as well as making good business sense.”
He continues, “The other critical thing for me is knowledge. If you don’t have knowledge then things don’t work as well as they should. We have struggled for years to help farmers access good advice and information.”
Richard Smith, who led the day at Daylesford said, “We are delighted to host this event at Daylesford today and it is gratifying that there is a rapidly growing band of farmers that are finding Agricology such an invaluable and comprehensive information resource. I certainly benefited from the day and it was apparent that those attending all took home some valuable ideas for their own businesses. We hope that this will be the first of many ‘Open Days’ and we look forward to offering similar events in other parts of the country in the future.”
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