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Field Lab Application Guidelines

Funding available for field labs

Innovative Farmers supports groups of farmers to work directly with researchers to design ‘field labs’ - on farm trials using practical farmer-led approaches. If your field lab requires funding support, you can apply to the Research Fund for a grant.

You are welcome to submit an Expression of Interest at any time until 1st December 2024.

If you are then invited to submit a full proposal, we will send you proposal forms to complete. The deadline for full proposals is 31st January 2025.

All field labs must have launched and been completed by March 2027 latest.

There are two tiers of funding:

  • Applications under £4,000 will not require review from our external panel.
  • Applications between £4,000 - £10,000 require a greater level of detail at the application stage (you will not need to fill in too much detail at EoI stage).
  • If needed, we may be able to fund coordinator time and travel separately (i.e. in addition to the grant). Please speak to the Innovative Farmers team to find out more.

The maximum allowable grant is £10,000 per field lab. Grants are not subject to VAT. Please speak to the team for further information.

We are very grateful to our funders for enabling farmer-led research to be supported via the Research Fund. For more information on our funders, or if you would like to support the programme, visit the 'Who's involved' page.

How to apply

If you have a good idea of what you'd would like to trial, download and complete the Expression of Interest form below and email it to info@innovativefarmers.org.

If you have a particular issue you'd like to explore or topic of interest but you haven't yet developed it much further, submit a field lab idea here. If you are not yet part of a group, we can help find other interested farmers, researchers and a coordinator to partner with.

We will review your submitted ideas and follow them up with you. If we think a field lab is feasible, we will send you a full application form to complete. Please review the criteria below to decide whether to apply.

Field Lab Expression Of Interest Form
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Deadlines for applications

You are welcome to submit an Expression of Interest form any time until 1st December 2024.

If we then invite you to submit a full proposal, we will send you proposal forms to complete. The deadline for full proposals is 31st January 2025.

All field labs must have completed by March 2027 latest.

Please review our guidance on how long it takes to develop a field lab [link to ‘How long does it take to develop a field lab and apply for funding?’]. If you are invited to submit a full application it will take up to aware that it takes up to 3 weeks for an external steering group to review applications, so please account for this in your planning.

Eligibility       

  • Anyone can submit an Expression of Interest. We particularly like to hear from farmers, growers or individuals representing groups of farmers they work with. We cannot help companies find groups of farmers for product testing or development.
  • Groups from any farming sector and farming system can apply.
  • Triallists should be registered businesses. University farms can also take part alongside other commercial farmers. At this time, we are unable to support trials in gardens or allotments.

Your field lab must:

•    Complete by March 2027 at latest
•    Involve practical, on-farm trials
•    Focus on innovative practices or solutions to increase farm sustainability, resilience and/or animal welfare
•    Demonstrate clear motivation and interest from the farming community
•    Take place in the United Kingdom
•    Have total costs of between £0 - £10,000
•    Involve trials on multiple commercial farms
•    Include a dedicated researcher and coordinator - we can help matchmake groups with researchers and coordinators
•    Agree to producing open-source results, including a final report for publishing on the Innovative Farmers website

Assessment criteria

We review all applications against a set of criteria that ensures that field labs follow some guiding principles. All applications should address the following objectives:

•    Generate useful new knowledge for the sector
•    Provide a compelling case for farmer motivation - address the needs and interests of farmers and/or growers
•    Demonstrate clear co-design and engagement between farmers and researchers
•    Show clear intent to improve farm sustainability, resilience and/or animal health and welfare 
•    Have a clear, simple but rigorous trial design that will answer the research question(s) that the group wants to answer
•    Demonstrate value for money, with appropriate funding sought for proposed outcomes
•    Include a realistic plan that will likely meet deadlines for the trials and analysis

Field lab groups

Groups comprise of:

•    Multiple farmers. A minimum of 2 commercial farms should run trials as part of the field lab (for info, the average number of triallists is 5). Non-triallist farmers/growers are very welcome to join the group to join discussions, learn alongside the trials and contribute their own experiences.
•    A researcher (scientist, academic, consultant or independent researcher with proven research experience)
•    A coordinator

We encourage you to involve other stakeholders, e.g. processors, seed companies, students, advisors, etc. to take part in the trials or to contribute to the the wider group and discussions.

Number of applications

You are welcome to submit multiple ideas. The Innovative Farmers team will discuss these with internal advisors and partners to determine the best course of action and whether to welcome a full application on one or more of the ideas. Existing field lab groups can also apply for funding for further on-farm trials if the suggested topic is distinct enough from their current trials. Many farmers, coordinators and researchers have been involved in multiple field labs.

Further information or support

If you need further information, email info@innovativefarmers.org or phone 0117 314 5109, between 9:30am to 2pm Monday to Friday. Please leave a message if we are not available.


We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application, perhaps due to a disability, neurodivergence, or anything else that means our services are difficult to use. We can also give support and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.