Innovative Farming

What are you trying to tackle? Browse or search the list below to see if a group of Innovative Farmers is working on it. You can read all about it, follow their progress or even join in. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, get in touch  – we’re always looking for ideas.

Interested in an overview of recent field labs? Have a flick through these field lab summaries >

Topics

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Improving health and wellbeing of hens

  • Poultry
This topic is investigating techniques to improve hen welfare and production specifically by tackling injurious feather pecking in flocks and reducing stress.
  • 4 Field Labs Involved
  • 4 Groups Involved

Developing sustainable composts

  • Horticulture
The challenge is to find alternatives to peat that demonstrate comparable efficiency to provide growers with affordable, reliable and resilient growing mediums.
  • £3000 Invested so far
  • 1 Field Lab Involved
  • 1 Group Involved

Using diverse species mixes

  • Sheep
This challenge focusses on the potential of using diverse species mixes for leys or crops, for wide ranging benefits, such as fertility building, environmental resilience, improving habitat for pollinators and livestock nutrition. Topic image (c) ORC
  • £1000 Invested so far
  • 2 Field Labs Involved
  • 2 Groups Involved

Improving our soils

  • Fruit
  • Horticulture
  • Arable
Soils are degrading and affecting the long-term ability for farmers to keep up food production. Reducing compaction and erosion and increasing soil organic matter are the key focus areas of this topic.
  • £2980 Invested so far
  • 9 Field Labs Involved
  • 9 Groups Involved

Managing rushes in grassland

  • Sheep
  • Dairy
  • Beef
Encroachment of soft rush is a growing problem for many land managers. Rushes can take over grass/clover swards with knock-on effects for livestock productivity and profit margins.
  • 1 Field Lab Involved
  • 1 Group Involved

Improving disease resistance in potatoes

  • Horticulture
Potatoes grown in the UK are at risk from 26 different diseases. Investigating methods and varieties that reduce the cost and loss of production through disease is vital to increase resilience in the industry.
  • 2 Field Labs Involved
  • 2 Groups Involved

Managing weeds without herbicides

  • Horticulture
  • Arable
Reducing the use of synthetic herbicides is good for the environment and farmers' bottom lines. What different methods of tackling weeds are available and how do they work in different situations?
  • £2064 Invested so far
  • 4 Field Labs Involved
  • 4 Groups Involved

Maximising potential of the understory in orchards

  • Fruit
  • Sheep
Using the understory effectively in orchards makes the most out of the land. Improving floor management gives the potential to profit from two crops, increase nutrient enrichment, water management, natural pest control, pollination, or reduce spoiling.
  • £300 Invested so far
  • 1 Field Lab Involved
  • 1 Group Involved

Crop varieties for low-input systems

  • Horticulture
  • Arable
The majority of crop varieties grown in organic and other low-input systems are bred for the situations where synthetic fertilisers and pesticides are used. Which varieties are most effective – on farm and at scale – in lower input systems?
  • 1 Field Lab Involved
  • 1 Group Involved

Improving feed efficiency in livestock

  • Dairy
Feed is one of the largest variable costs to farmers. An animal’s health, stress, nutrition, weight and growth rate all affect feed efficiency. Finding ways to improve efficiency sustainably is crucial for better returns.
  • £200 Invested so far
  • 1 Field Lab Involved
  • 1 Group Involved

Reducing antibiotic use in dairy production

  • Dairy
Using antibiotics is a major cost to farmers and frequent use contributes to bacterial resistance – a problem in farming and human medicine. Promoting animal health and reducing the need for treatment are important in making dairy production more profitable, safer and more resilient.
  • £4000 Invested so far
  • 2 Field Labs Involved
  • 2 Groups Involved

Testing bio-inoculants and stimulants

  • Horticulture
  • Arable
Products based on naturally occurring substances are appearing on the UK market claiming to be able to reduce the requirements for inputs for plant growth. How effective and practical are these products are in the field?
  • £2600 Invested so far
  • 3 Field Labs Involved
  • 2 Groups Involved

Developing new feed crops for livestock

  • Poultry
  • Pigs
  • Dairy
  • Beef
Farmers are always looking for feeds that have better nutrition and productivity. Finding novel feed sources that keep costs and waste down whilst improving efficiency and sustainable production is an important challenge for the livestock industry.
  • £700 Invested so far
  • 2 Field Labs Involved
  • 2 Groups Involved
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