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Research Insight Networking Tour

Regenerative arable farming – how effective are different practices and combinations

On May 24th 2024, our partners from Rothamsted Research, Harpenden Campus organised an in-person tour and afternoon workshop focussing on Rothamsted's Large Scale Rotation Experiment (LSRE) which is testing alternative NBS combinations.

The aim of the event was to inform potential end-users of NBS and future applications, to ascertain interest end-users to adopt NBS and to discover what drivers/barriers influence interest or disinterest in NBS.

There were 13 participants at the event, out of which half were farmers and half were representatives of the industry, external academics and interested members of the public.

The event focussed on the effectiveness of NBS combinations being trialled on Rothamsted’s LSRE including:

  • crop rotation length/diversity (3.5 and 7 year);
  • tillage (inversion vs reduced tillage;
  • amendments (standard vs green compost and/or cover crops) and
  • either conventional vs smart crop protection measures (IPM measures including resistant cultivar mixes, companion cropping, and delayed drilling).

These combinations were demonstrated in the field via a farm walk.

The afternoon session took place indoors and in the form of a workshop. Through a combination of open forum and small group work participants explored the following topics:

  • Open forum Q&A – to facilitate 2-way discussion about LSRE, thoughts/feelings/opinions.
  • Group work: Science engagement – understand how farmers engage with agricultural research.
  • Decision making & control – explore what is in participants control and how they make decisions on-farm related to regenerative agriculture.

At the end of the day, event though there were less farmers at the event they showed good levels of engagement both on the farm walk and in the afternoon session. There was a high level of interest in the different NBS combinations being trialled on the LSRE and good feedback from farmers about their own experiences of trialling these or similar interventions on their own farms.

All attendees saw the value in trials being conducted by research organisations such as Rothamsted, free from industry influence, with Rothamsted seen as a trusted independent source of information.

The next step will be to organise an online event in the autumn to compare online vs. in-person events.