Research projects

REA on Plant and Soil Science Research in Regen Ag in the UK

Contract Period : 01/10/2023 - 30/04/2024

Main Funder : Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts (Aurora Trust, Mark Leonard Trust and Gatsby Charitable Foundation)

ORC Staff Contact : Julia Cooper

Rapid Evidence Assessment to Map UK Plant and Soil Science Research with a Regenerative Agriculture focus

Regenerative agriculture, or ‘regen ag’, is a grassroots movement and set of farming practices  that emphasises building soil health and delivering a range of societal benefits, including mitigation of climate change and promotion of biodiversity.  While the practices are very similar to those promoted by organic farmers over the past 50-60 years and more recently within the frame of conservation agriculture, the re-packaging of these principles and practices into regen ag and effective promotion, particularly by individuals like Gabe Brown in the United States, and a range of innovative farmers in the UK, has accelerated the spread of regen ag as a movement.  In the UK this has been evidenced by the growing popularity of farmer-led events like Groundswell and Carbon Calling

Supporting sectors including researchers and advisors have responded to the movement through projects and activities that explore the underlying science behind regen ag and promoting analysis of soils and systems through the lens of soil biology.

Project summary

This project seeks to build a database that maps current actors and activities linked to regen ag across the research sector and to understand where gaps in knowledge currently lie. It will result in a definitive mapping of the sector: highlighting researchers, projects, practitioners and advisors who are active in regen ag in the UK. A discussion paper will be produced in March 2024 which will lead to the identification of knowledge gaps and research approaches to support the growth of regen ag within the UK.

Current Progress Highlights

The project has just begun. We are busy building the database of contacts. This will be followed up by targeted interviews with key players in the regen ag sector and a ‘snowballing’ approach to growing the database. Interviewees will also be asked to highlight where they think the knowledge gaps lie.

ORC’s Role

ORC is the project lead.

Project leader and partners:

Project Lead: ORC

NIAB (Elizabeth  Stockdale) and Agri-TechE ( Belinda Clarke)

ORC Team involved with this project

Principal Researcher, Agroforesty
Head of Research