What is a field lab?

Field labs are practical, hands-on trials that are open to everyone. Working with a group of likeminded farmers and a top researcher, you can get fast and thorough insight in to the challenges facing your business.

How does it work?

  1. A group of farmers or growers come together around an idea. Sometimes they're an existing discussion or buying group, other times we'll help bring people together who care about the same topic.
  2. We'll help you organise a 'kick-off' meeting. This can be on farm or in the pub, the important bit is getting together to discuss what you'd like to trial.
  3. You will be matched with a researcher. We're working with the UK's leading agricultural research institutions and can match you with a specialist who will be right for your group.
  4. The researcher will work with you to plan your trial and you'll decide together what data to record. As the trial develops you'll meet up, see how things are progressing and adapt if it's necessary.
  5. At the end of the trial, the researcher will help you analyse your findings. They'll be published online and in the press. You can then use them to inform your business decisions or to plan another field lab.

 

What support is available to help run a field lab?

Every group of farmers aiming to design a trial and set up a field lab requires a co-ordinator. This usually works best if it is someone independent from the group (rather than a participating farmer) and it is essential they have the skills to help facilitate the discussions in order to design an effective and practical trial.

Every group requires funding to help get it off the ground. This can either be sourced by the group itself or in discussion with the team at Innovative Farmers. This funding will cover the costs of joining the Innovative Farmers network, a fee for the co-ordinator and access to a researcher. There is an opportunity to apply for a grant of up to £10,000 to assist in covering the costs associated with running a trial.

Most groups meet a handful of times each year but there’s no obligation to attend every meeting. You can either trial on your own farm, or watch and learn from what others are doing. So you decide how much time to invest.

Could you sponsor a field lab and help get on-farm research, off the ground?

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