In 2016 Innovative Farmers began a partnership with Robin Appel to work with farmers to develop sustainable solutions to the industry’s greatest challenges.
Together, with the support of sponsors like Robin Appel, we are helping farmers transform farming and in 2016 the Innovative Farmer network grew to over 350 members involved in 19 groups.
In 2016 new groups started field labs on a range of topics that illustrate that diversity and ingenuity of the farmers involved. They include looking for alternatives to glyphosate for terminating cover crops, playing music to hens to increase welfare and improving nutrient availability from digestate. There are two new field labs specifically aimed at growers as part of the GREATsoils programme. One group are testing soil amendments for growing top fruit, and the other is looking at improving soil in a shared rotation.
Established groups have reported on field labs investigating innovative black grass and thistle control, growing blight resistant varieties of potatoes and sprouting feed to increase nutrient availability.
In return for their support, Robin Appel’s sponsorship has been promoted through Soil Association’s social media channels and website, as well as on the Innovative Farmers portal, in relevant Farming press and at events. They also receive reports on the activity and reported learning by participating farmers/growers within their network.