Innovative Farmers now free to join

After 18 months of enabling farmers to lead the way in practical, on-farm innovation, the Innovative Farmers network today announces significant changes to make it easier for even more farmers to benefit. As of April joining the network will be free, meaning everyone can access the full write-ups from field labs and attend network events without paying an annual membership fee.

Innovative Farmers brings together groups of farmers with researchers from top agricultural institutions in practical ‘field labs’. Field labs so far have tackled challenges like finding alternatives to glyphosate for terminating cover crops, producing cheap and reliable peat-free compost from woodchip, and fighting blackgrass without chemicals.

Until now, farmers have paid an annual membership to join the network, and also contributed to the cost of individual field labs and events that they take part in. The annual membership fee has gone, and sponsors cover the costs of a growing number of the field labs.

Nick Freeth, who runs Manor Farm, a dairy farm near Cricklade said; “I have been involved in three field labs so far and have seen measurable benefits for my business. The good thing about Innovative Farmers is that you meet with like-minded farmers. No matter what our production method, we are all looking to be more profitable, sustainable and use fewer inputs. We want to make more use of what we’ve got. The field labs directly benefit us, the farmer.”

Tom MacMillan Director of Innovation, Soil Association said; “The UK spends around £450 million on agricultural research, and only around 1% of this goes to practical projects led by farmers. But many of the best ideas in farming, are coming from farmers. This change will allow more people to get involved in the network, stimulate more farmer-led research and help drive farming forward.”

Innovative Farmers is part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme, funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation through the sale of Waitrose Duchy Organic products. The network is backed by a team from LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), Innovation for Agriculture, the Organic Research Centre and the Soil Association.

Membership is open now: innovativefarmers.org

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