The project aims to assist farmers to increase on-farm efficiency and reduce their reliance on external inputs by increasing the functional agricultural biodiversity (FAB) on their farms.
One example of this could be attracting beneficial pest-eating insects by planting infield wildflower strips within cereal crops. Another could be converting monoculture livestock pasture to diverse herbal leys which provide farm-grown fodder at the same time as building soil health. The programme will assist farmers in identifying and adopting relevant methods such as these from the FAB suite of practices and will be using the Innovative Farmers model of field labs to help achieve this.
Helen Aldis, Innovative Farmers development manager says “It is great to be involved in this inspiring new four-year project to help farmers adopt FAB practices. Our field labs are just one way in which learning networks will be encouraged to take action in the pilot regions and I am looking forward to working with the programme partners to deliver this.”
In the UK the Soil Association will be working alongside the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit, National Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The project will focus on three pilot regions at first: The South West of England, Pembrokeshire and the East of England.
The aim is to set up learning networks of farmers across the three pilot regions over the next few months. Anyone can join. All you need is an interest in adopting FAB farming practices on your farm and for your farm to be located within the pilot regions. Involvement is completely free as there is secured funding from Interregional North West Europe Programme to carry out this project over the next four years.
If you are interested to find out more on how you can get involved, please contact Liz Bowles firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. If you're not in the pilot areas but keen to carry out an Innovative Farmers field lab then contact the team at email@example.com