LEAF has announced new
plans to support farmers who want to open their gates as part of Open Farm
Sunday for the first time.
LEAF carried out research
over the summer to understand the barriers and challenges faced by farmers who
were considering hosting a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event, and the results have
been used to create a new programme of support. This includes a new information
pack, full of ideas to give farmers a better understanding of how they can take
part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday, what is involved and answer frequently asked questions
– before farmers take the decision to register an event.
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF
Open Farm Sunday Manager explained, “The research highlighted an opportunity to
help more farmers at the start of the decision-making process. 95 per cent of
experienced hosts found the Host Farmer Handbook invaluable and 91 per cent
valued the free resources. However, amongst the farmers surveyed who had never
taken part, over half said they would consider hosting a LEAF Open Farm Sunday
event but the majority (63 per cent) were not aware of the range of tools and
free resources available from LEAF, so this new pack bridges that information
The pack has been developed
ready for the launch of LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2019 on Wednesday 7 November,
after which it can be downloaded from the website. Other support planned over
the coming months includes a regional network to provide help and advice to
host farmers, access to a ticketing service to help farmers control the number
of visitors to their event and access to a communications toolkit to provide
all the skills and know-how to engage with visitors.
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Are you interested in innovation and trying new techniques? Do you perform your own on-farm trials or develop novel solutions to practical problems? If so, you might be eligible to take part in the Innovative Farmers programme.
Part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme and funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, the scheme aims to bring together and support farmers who want to test the latest thinking on their farm. The network is backed by a team from LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), Innovation for Agriculture, the Organic Research Centre and the Soil Association, and supported by Waitrose.
It works by bringing together groups of farmers with researchers from top agricultural institutions in practical ‘field labs’. This means you can get reliable results and practical solutions to the challenges your business is facing. Over the last three years 750 farmers and growers have been involved in 35 different field labs covering topics from antibiotic use in dairy cattle to controlling blackgrass.
Half the farmers who have taken part say they have made changes to their farming practices as a result of being involved in the field labs, with nine out of ten saying they learned something from the experience.
Membership of the scheme costs £240 plus VAT per year, although sponsorship of up to £2,000 may be available for groups of up to 24 farmers. Participating groups can get up to £10,000 research funding per field lab.
The scheme can match farmers and growers with the necessary expertise and interest to set up a new field lab, or put them in touch with an appropriate existing one. For more information on the scheme, visit: www.innovativefarmers.org
Syngenta is looking for UK students between the ages of 11 and 19 to enter its Farm Tech Challenge.
Students are challenged to ‘plan, deliver, evaluate and report on a project that uses digital technology to address one of the themes of The Good Growth Plan.’ These are: making crops more efficient; rescuing more farmland (protecting soil and reducing erosion); helping biodiversity flourish; empowering smallholders and helping people stay safe.
Entries must involve the design and development of a programmable digital system to gather data, process it and produce a useful output.
As well as guides for students and teachers, Syngenta has also developed a ‘Schools’ Media Pack’ to help those teachers taking part in the project raise awareness of their school and students’ involvement in The Farm Tech Challenge and get the best media coverage.
Jim Morton, Outreach Manager, Syngenta, explains, “The future of agriculture is very exciting and there is enormous potential for the application of technology to help us meet the challenge of sustainably feeding a growing population. We are delighted to give students an opportunity to take part in this Challenge where they will gain the experience of developing real-life innovations, together with the skills and knowledge that are relevant to a range of STEM-related careers.”
As well Syngenta, the Challenge is supported by a number of organisations including the Institute of Agricultural Engineers, the University of Manchester, Harper Adams University, Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and others. Full details can be found at: www.farmtechchallenge.co.uk
Organisers have branded this year’s Open Farm Sunday, held on 7th June, a record breaking success.
According to organisers LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), more than a quarter of a million visitors visited one of almost 400 farms which were open across the country. Good weather and pre-event publicity help beat last year’s record visitor figures by around 15 per cent.
Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday manager at LEAF commented, “Our tenth Open Farm Sunday has been a resounding success and a fantastic celebration of British farming and food. We’re particularly delighted so many families took the time to visit farms up and down the country, many for the first time. On behalf of LEAF I’d like to offer a huge thank you to everyone involved.”
In Lincolnshire, potato grower and produce packer Worth Farms and QV Foods received more than 1,000 visitors. Duncan Worth said, “Open Farm Sunday is a wonderful opportunity for people to get to have a look around working farms such as ours across the country. The numbers of visitors today, all interested to learn more about modern farming and food production, highlights how important this is for our local community too.”