Put yourself in the driving seat of research
When Innovative Farmers was launched in 2015, it was on the back of one idea – that many of the best ideas in farming come from farmers. We were working with farmers whose ideas were transforming their own businesses, but they were often going it alone. At the same time, we were talking to researchers who wanted their work to have real impact, to work on projects that would be put into practice straight away, rather than sit in a journal gathering virtual dust.
The network was designed to bring these two groups together: innovative farmers, who ensure the field labs are relevant to their business and the research stays practical, and progressive researchers who bring rigour to the on-farm trials. The concept of farmer-led research is really gaining traction. Field labs are increasingly being written into research proposals and recently they have won sponsorship from some of the UK’s main agricultural research funders. This is not just a recognition of the field lab model, but also of the vital role that farmers’ practical ingenuity can play in solving the challenges
In 2018, there are more field labs than ever. They’re being driven by farmers and growers who want to make their businesses more resilient and sustainable, and they’re being supported by organisations that see value in this approach to research. This journal
showcases some of the people and projects that are driving farming forwards.
Thank you to everyone featured in the journal, and to all the farmers, researchers and co-ordinators who make up the network.
Researchers can learn a lot from small-scale, farmer-led innovation. Likewise, farmers can learn from researchers how to design trials that deliver robust results, as well as picking their brains about cutting edge scientific knowledge.”Professor Tim Benton, University of Leeds