New funding for farmer-led research
04 December 2012
The Soil Association is delighted to announce the launch of a £125,000 fund that puts farmers and growers in the driving seat of new research. The research fund is part of the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme which supports innovation in sustainable agriculture.
Farmers and growers are at the sharp end of the challenges facing food and agriculture today. They understand the problems in practice and have great ideas on how to tackle them. The Soil Association will tap into this knowledge and support practical research to benefit farmers and growers across the country.
To kick off the fund, the Soil Association is asking farmers and growers to come forward with research challenges that affect their farm. What are the practical obstacles and gaps in know-how that hold back their efforts to boost yields and quality, and improve animal welfare and environmental performance? The fund will focus on finding low-cost, sustainable solutions that rely on management or renewable resources. The invitation is open to all farmers, organic or otherwise.
Once the ideas are in, the Soil Association and its project partner, the Organic Research Centre, will carry out a ‘match-making’ process to find suitable research partners to work with the farmers or growers. This partnership approach ensures that the projects remain relevant to agricultural practice, but are scientifically rigorous. The research partner will put together a detailed proposal which will be reviewed by an expert steering group. The successful proposals will receive financial support, with both the farmers and researchers eligible for funding. The fund will be open for the next three years and will make grants of up to £25,000 each.
All that is needed from the farmer or grower at this stage is a brief outline of the problem and the benefits of solving it. Ideas can be registered on-line until 5 January 2013.
For more information and to submit a research challenge visit the research fund pages.
For information on the research fund contact
Euan Brierley, Research Manager, Soil Association firstname.lastname@example.org mob 07813 590354
For media information
Sally Morgan, Soil Association email@example.com mob 07973 299643
Notes to Editor
About the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme
The Duchy Originals Future Farming programme supports innovation in sustainable agriculture. The programme helps British farmers identify and adopt practices that improve their productivity in an environmentally responsible way. It involves farmers across the country in developing innovative techniques aimed at improving yields and nutritional performance in organic and low-input agriculture. At the heart of this activity is a network of on-farm events, led by farmers and growers, where they can share their know-how, design field experiments and pinpoint practical challenges. These will shape the priorities for a new research fund, which targets key barriers to sustainable farming and food systems. The programme focuses on ecological farming, especially approaches that reduce farmers’ reliance on expensive inputs. It will therefore be particularly relevant to producers who farm to organic standards, yet open to all. The programme is funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation and will be delivered by the Soil Association in partnership with Duchy Originals from Waitrose and the Organic Research Centre.
About the Soil Association
The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment. Today the Soil Association is the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. To find out more visit www.soilassociation.org
About the Organic Research Centre
The Soil Association’s lead research partner is the Organic Research Centre (ORC). Based at Elm Farm near Newbury, ORC is an independent research centre dedicated to the development of sustainable food systems based on organic/agro-ecological principles. http://www.organicresearchcentre.com
The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation
A donation from the sale of all Duchy Originals from Waitrose products is given to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, and to the Countryside Fund. The Foundation operates primarily as a grant making trust and aims to use income raised from its trading subsidiaries to support charitable causes and make a strategic impact for good.