The Farming and Land Use Team at the Soil Association have a specialist knowledge of all UK agricultural sectors as well as in depth understanding of organic and agroecological food production systems. The team works to improve organic practice, support our licensees, to share and support knowledge on agroecological production (see our Innovative Farmers programme) and to increase the proportion of food which is produced from organic and ecological systems. We support organic and non-organic farmers alike to transition towards more sustainable practices. Find out more at: https://www.soilassociation.org/farmers-growers/
The Farming and Land Use Team at the Soil Association have a specialist knowledge of all UK agricultural sectors as well as in depth understanding of organic and agroecological food production systems. Our goal is to support organic and non-organic farmers alike to transition towards more sustainable practices.
Innovative Farmers was established in 2012 by the Soil Association with the aim of bringing scientific rigour to on-farm trials co-designed by farmers and researchers. With a focus on sustainability and resilience, groups come together on discrete topics and on-farm trials addressing the topics that matter to them.
Soil is an essential natural resource for all farmers. Over recent years many initiatives have sought to provide information and advice on soils and Soil Health, notably AHDB Great Soils.
The Farmer-Led Innovation Network (FLIN) are UK based organisations driving farmer-led innovation - working together to power up and increase the impact of farmer led innovation initiatives.
Tell us how you are improving your soils. Share useful resources, organisations and initiatives.
Agroecology is a holistic and integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agriculture and food systems. Definition from FAO.
Agroforestry is the practice of combining agricultural crops or livestock with trees and shrubs. It is a great example of agroecology in action. Agroforestry provides healthier soil, higher yields and vital homes for wildlife.
Organic is a system of farming and food production. Organic farmers aim to produce high-quality food, using methods that benefit our whole food system, from people to planet, plant health to animal welfare.
Knowledge Exchange in Agriculture in the UK is diverse, with many organisations involved. That is part of the reason for creating Farm-PEP, to help provide connections to what many percieve as a fragmented landscape.
Many of the most telling innovations that make a difference on-farm come from farmers themselves, or from close collaboration between farmers, advisors, industry and researchers
Pasture Optimisation for Resilience and Livelihoods (PASTORAL) will work with farmers to co-design a new digital platform to help improve data to inform on-farm decision making to increase farm productivity and carbon efficiency using satellite data to plan pasture management.
‘Healthy soil, Healthy food and Healthy people’
Series of videos exploring agroecology produced by a partnership funded by Scottish Government.
An event to discuss how will we secure the plant varieties needed for more sustainable UK agriculture How will we secure the plant varieties needed for a more sustainable and resilient UK agriculture? Can the plant breeding community rise to the challenge, and what is needed to achieve this?
Useful Soil Association webpage with farmer's & researchers experience of Mob Grazing.
Download a copy of the guide to Agroforestry from the Soil Association website below.
FABulous Farmers is a European project supporting farmers in the transition to more agroecological practices on their farms. Soil Association are delivering activity in 3 UK pilot regions – South West England, West Midlands and Wales, with the National Trust leading activity in the East England. The project aims to reduce reliance on external inputs, like chemical fertilisers and pesticides, by encouraging the use of methods and interventions that increase the farm’s Functional AgroBiodiversity (FAB). These are targeted measures of biodiversity in and around the field to improve pollination, pest management, soil and water quality on the farmland.
The business event showcasing low carbon practices, technology and energy solutions for a profitable & sustainable farming future.
The next Low Carbon Agriculture Show will take place on the 7 - 8 February 2023 at the National Agricultural Exhibition Centre (NAEC), Stoneleigh, to help farmers and landowners to rise to the challenge of producing more domestic, climate friendly food and energy.
Agroforestry has the power to improve biodiversity and soil health, cut carbon emissions and produce healthy nutritious food and sustainable timber. Do you want to create resilient and productive farm and food systems? Then this show is for you. The Agroforestry Show is the first of its kind aimed at bringing together farmers, foresters, tree surgeons, growers, graziers, advisors, funders, food businesses and agroforesters!
Sustainable agriculture through legume-cereal intercropping. The LEGUMINOSE project will provide science-based, farmer-led, and economically viable systems and techniques for legume-based intercropping. In the UK the Farm Living Labs will be run as an Innovative Farmers field lab [https://www.innovativefarmers.org/]. We are looking for 20 farms to take part in trials looking at yield and soil health benefits of intercrops from a range of crop mixes in organic, conventional and regenerative systems as well as in different locations across the UK. If you are interested contact Jerry [email protected] We'd also love to hear from farmers about their experiences of intercropping, or what prevents them from practicing it! Please help the project by completing this anonymous questionnaire (it takes about 15 minutes). Thankyou.
This field lab involves growers who are part of an emerging network aiming to re-establish a regenerative textile (particularly linen) supply chain in the UK, with a particular focus in Scotland. The trial’s main objectives are to ascertain how well flax grows in a range of soil types, measured by crop establishment and yield; and to compare the performance of 3 varieties in a range of soil types. The secondary objectives are to explore factors which may influence the retting process (e.g. time retted, number of turnings, weather); and to compare the fibre quality of 3 varieties.
Bokashi is the Japanese word for “well-fermented organic matter”. Bokashi Manure Treatment is becoming increasingly popular, and involves microorganisms breaking down animal bedding and dung. It is said to have many benefits, including increased nutrient content of manure and animal welfare improvements. But there is no published work which has shown clear evidence of the benefits of Bokashi manures to UK farmers, crops, soils or the environment. Two farmers in Scotland would like to run a field lab / on-farm trials to evaluate the potential benefits of Bokashi manure treatment on their farms, supported by Innovative Farmers. As well as measuring the benefits, they are keen to trial the management process, and find out how easy it is to handle and spread the bokashi-treated manure compared with other manures, and to compare their carbon footprints. The benefits Bokashi Manure Treatment is said to have a number of benefits, including: Improved health of housed animals; Lower odours; Drier bedding; Reduced incidence of flies; Reduced nutrient losses in the finished manure; Reduced manure management costs; Reduced carbon footprint associated with manure management. Trial design The trials will take place on two farms over a three-year trial. Animal bedding and dung in the housing will be sprayed with a liquid mixture of microorganisms (known as Effective Microorganisms or EM®) . This will be provided by Agriton. Once the animals have been removed from the housing, the bedding and dung are taken out, mixed and covered with an impermeable membrane (usually plastic) and left for at least 6 to 8 weeks. The resulting dung can be used in the same way as dung produced by other means Manures made through the Bokashi process will be compared with those made using standard farming practice on both farms Basic soil testing and evaluation will be conducted at the start of the 3 year project (before application of the Bokashi manures/control manures) and at the end of the project. Discussions will also take place with other farmers and community farms in the Field Lab who will also be trialling the bokashi method, to draw on their experiences of using the process.
Ten farmers in the North Yorkshire Moors are working with independent grassland experts and researchers from the University of Leeds to better understand the value of an under-utilised option for leys - cocksfoot.
This group of commercial blackcurrant growers are exploring living mulches as an alternative weed control method to reduce herbicide use. The objective of the trial is to test a range of different living mulch species/ mixes to determine if they could offer a viable alternative method of weed control in bush and cane fruit. This field lab has been instigated by blackcurrant growers Ltd.’s R&D committee.
Soil Association slides developed to share with educators who lead agriculture degree courses at the AUC Educators Retreat 2023.