After 18 months of enabling farmers to lead the way in practical, on-farm innovation, the Innovative Farmers network announced that joining the farmer-led research network will be free of charge.
So everyone can access the full write-ups from field labs and attend network events without paying an annual membership fee.
Innovative Farmers brings together groups of farmers with researchers from top agricultural institutions in practical ‘field labs’. Field labs - which are based on innovative research groups first established by farmers in South America - have so far tackled challenges like finding alternatives to glyphosate for terminating cover crops, producing cheap and reliable peat-free compost from woodchip, and fighting blackgrass without chemicals.
Until now, farmers have paid an annual membership to join the network, and also contributed to the cost of individual field labs and events that they take part in. The annual membership fee has gone, and corporate and charity sponsors (like Waitrose and the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation) now cover the costs of a growing number of the field labs.
Nick Freeth, who runs Manor Farm, a dairy farm near Cricklade commented, “I have been involved in three field labs so far and have seen measurable benefits for my business. The good thing about Innovative Farmers is that you meet with likeminded farmers. No matter what our production method, we are all looking to be more profitable, sustainable and use fewer inputs. We want to make more use of what we’ve got. The field labs directly benefit us, the farmer.”
Tom MacMillan Director of Innovation at the Soil Association added, “The UK spends around £450 million on agricultural research, and only around 1% of this goes to practical projects led by farmers. But many of the best ideas in farming, are coming from farmers. This change will allow more people to get involved in the network, stimulate more farmer-led research and help drive farming forward.”
Membership is open now: innovativefarmers.org