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Five reasons for farmers to get involved in field labs

1) Research support gives you the confidence to take risks on your farm

We know how difficult it is to take a risk with your business. Field labs give farmers and growers the confidence to make changes on your farms. Testing a new practice doesn’t always end in the results that were expected. But finding out what doesn’t work is almost as important as finding out what does. By helping you to record robust data throughout the trial, researchers help build strong evidence for practice changes on your farm. You can start by testing a small section of your farm. It’s not uncommon for trials to start on 1 or 2 hectares and end up expanding to half the farm.

2) Trials that fit into the commercial practice

When a practice is tested in a busy farm environment, the results are more useful to you than if it were tested on a research farm. In field labs, you are supported to design a trial which fits neatly into your business. Farmers are busy people, so trials are co-designed with you to save as much time as possible. In many cases, researchers come out and collect the data.

3) Working together gives better results

No farm is the same, but every farmer can learn from each other. Bringing farmers and researchers together to test ideas brings more benefits than the research alone. Creating social fabric within farming communities is vital to ensure their survival. But because no farm is the same, building farmer networks allows farmers to find the practice that is right for your environment. By working within the network, you can exchange ideas and advice with other farmers.

4) Agriculture needs to adapt to face the challenges ahead

The UK’s farming community is enduring a period of significant uncertainty. As we face climate and market turbulence, farmers’ capacity and skills to innovate are more important than ever to their survival. With new regulations coming in, farmers need to innovate to stay ahead of the curve. Field labs provide a network of support to make this happen, helping you be at the cutting edge of nature friendly farming.

5) Take the risk away from innovation

Innovation doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Field labs provide funding to subsidise the cost of new equipment, seeds or technology and link you up with supply chain experts to make sure you have the latest technical advice. We’ve found that a small amount of support can make a big difference in helping farmers take the first step

Innovative Farmers could offer us financial support with the testing, bring in experts and act as the connectors so that we could concentrate on farming while doing the trials.

A portrait of Tom Gregory.

Tom Gregory, Farmer, Home Farm, Devon