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A knowledge exchange network for researchers and rural professionals who advise farming and land businesses


Latest News

Farming and Water Action workshop in March

Earlier this year, the Farming and Water Action Group of the UK Water Partnership published a series of reports that explored the links between water and food production and the challenges for delivering both food and water to society in a sustainable way. They identified issues, evidence gaps and potential solutions and made recommendations for policy-makers, industry, practitioners and academia. The UK Water Partnership is now planning a workshop which will be held in Reading on 10 March 2016 to consider how these recommendations can be addressed. This will include:

  • Identifying barriers to reaching goals formulated from report recommendations (which included improved long-term agri-water  planning, greater supply chain resilience to extreme events and integrated modelling) and how these might be overcome;
  • Learning from current best practice (showcasing current case studies);
  • Identifying innovation, translation, communication and research gaps; and
  • Providing an opportunity for different stakeholder groups to engage around common issues on water and farming.

Details and how to register will be available soon but please mark the date in your diary if you are interested.

Talking the talk on ecosystems services

Stakeholder engagement and involvement in decision making is key to the Ecosystem Approach but this involves working with a new language and philosophy to understand and value the natural world.  LWEC Policy and Practice Note 23, ''Using ecosystem services in public engagement and dialogue on the natural environment'' provides pointers for organisations undertaking these processes.

What do the uplands do for us?

The uplands provide us with goods essential to life, including drinking water, climate control and landscapes that benefit our state of mind.  Their hydrological processes and effects need to be understood and effectively managed.  ''Upland Water in the Rose Bowl'' on 19 January 2016 in Leeds is supported by NERC, the British Hydrological Society, Upland Hydrology Group and water@leeds and will provide an opportunity for information exchange and discussion on water colour and carbon, natural flood risk management and the water industry and the upland economy.  To book for this event, please contact Tim Fuller at the BHS bhs@ice.org.uk or use the on line formMore information and a provisional agenda are available.


Sainfoin, a natural anthelmintic for small ruminants?

Nematodes of the gastro intestinal tract are of major economic importance in livestock, particularly in domestic ruminants such as sheep and goats. Sainfoin, a legume forage that contains tannin, may play a relevant role in non-chemical control.  In addition, it may reduce methane emission from the animals, which find the plant highly palatable, and the flowers are also attractive to bees and pollinators.  A new technical note from the EU-funded LowInputBreeds project provides a useful overview of the research.


New research network puts farmers in the driving seat

An unprecedented partnership of farming groups has launched a new network to support innovation by farmers. Innovative Farmers gives farmers research support and funding on their own terms. The network is part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme, funded by the Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation. The Soil Association, Organic Research Centre and Waitrose have been partners in the programme and are now joined by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) and Innovation in Agriculture, ensuring that the new network represents farmers and growers across the industry.

In our latest Landbridge blog Tom MacMillan from the Soil Association tells us a bit more about how Innovative Farmers will work in practice.


Making towns and cities pollinator friendly

Insect pollinators are essential for food production and wild flower reproduction and they are under increasing pressure.  A majority of humans live in urban areas, but we tend to think only of the pressures on pollinators in the countryside.  It’s important that we also manage our towns and cities as pollinator friendly environments. LWEC Policy and Practice Note no 20 explains how this might be achieved.


Building cross-professional networks

Nuffield scholar Finola McCoy writes in praise of professional networks and the role of ''the honest broker'' in the Landbridge blog.  ''Many professionals have a 'healthy' suspicion of other professionals working in the same region,'' she writes, ''and may worry about losing clients or business. However, the reality is that this suspicion is often born out of ignorance of and isolation from other professionals and in general, the positive outcomes from networking outweigh the real challenges and the perceived threats.''  Finola's Nuffield report on ''Building Strong Professional Networks'' will be available during the autumn on the Nuffield Ireland website.


Organic farming at six year low says report

From a peak in 2009, land being farmed organically in England in 2014 was at a six year low of 296,683 ha, and organic farms had a lower average Farm Business Income (FBI) than non-organic farms for all farm types except Less Favoured Area (LFA) grazing farms, according to an independent report from Rural Business Research.  The Organic Farming in England report is drawn from the latest results from Farm Business Survey 2013/14 data and compiled by Charles Scott from the Rural Business Survey at Newcastle University.   Charles Scott said: ''However, as has been the case for some years, organic LFA grazing farms remained more profitable than their non-organic counterparts''.


Farm modernisation and rural resilience in Europe

The transdisciplinary European RETHINK research programme has been researching the links between farm modernisation, rural development and resilience in a world of increasing demands and finite resources.  Over the past three years they have been exploring alternative development trajectories, highlighting innovation opportunities and identifying potential synergies between farm modernisation and sustainable rural development across Europe.  One of their main goals has been to help overcome simplistic viewpoints of what modernization entails and to identify best practices supporting a sustainable agriculture in vibrant rural areas.  Their final end of project conference takes place on 2 December 2015 in Brussels. For more information on the project, the programme and the online registration portal visit www.rethink-net.eu












"The more knowledge you share, the more you will benefit in return"

Mike Butcher, Agronomist and Landbridge member