A grower’s perspective of running on-farm trials

In my farming career I have been involved with a range of horticultural research projects. These on-farm trials were invariably designed by researchers suitably qualified to analyse and document the results. For many farmers the perception is that these results rarely went beyond the research community ending up languishing in a dusty filing cabinet somewhere. The Duchy Originals Future Farming programme puts the farmer at the heart of the research, who has the opportunity to help with the design, implementation and dissemination of the trials through a series of ‘field labs’. Having a researcher to hand enables the farmer to keep the trials on track, follow set protocols and ensure that the results are presented in a farmer-friendly way. The problems of finding a replacement to peat-based substrates for propagation have been around now for several decades, but little progress has been made, with most growers still reliant on peat. With a future ban on peat time is running out to find a solution. For many years we have been trialling woodchip base substrates with varying degrees of success, but needed to know how this would perform when compared with other substrates and what the real issues in terms of plant growth were. This trial provided much useful information and experience.


Theme: other
Published: 27th November 2014
Author: Iain Tolhurst