NEWS

CALLING ALL FARMERS: DO YOU WANT TO TEST YOUR OWN THEORIES?

Thought up, co-designed, and run by farmers, all selected FarmInn projects will receive up to £3000.

  • 06
  • FEB
  • 2019

Rothamsted Research is launching a new fund for farmers who want to do innovative on-farm research, with all eligible costs covered and free access to Rothamsted’s world class expertise and facilities.

Part funded by AHDB, the aim of FarmInn is to provide real world, scientifically robust solutions to the challenges currently faced by UK agriculture.

Project leader Dr Ian Shield said: “We all know the problems the industry faces, but no one is more acutely aware than farmers themselves. To tackle these challenges, farmers need new knowledge that can be implemented in the field. FarmInn gives them a chance to find solutions to the things that matter most to the agricultural community.”

It is anticipated that about seven projects will be funded in the first instance, with each farmer receiving up to £3000 to cover the eligible costs of running their trial.

“Any proposal that addresses the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of farm businesses will be considered,” says Dr Shield. “We want to hear from the farmers themselves.”

The FarmInn scheme is unique in that it will also provide free access to Rothamsted’s researchers and facilities, by pairing each farmer with an expert in the field, he added.

“Farmers are by nature great innovators, continually striving for new and better ways of doing things. They also possess a huge wealth of expertise, and when it comes to their own land, an unrivalled level of knowledge.

“We aim to support that spirit of discovery by taking away some of the financial risks of trying something new, and by providing them with specialist support in terms of designing experiments, collecting data and analysing results.”

Farmers are being asked to submit their idea via a short, simple application form and projects will be chosen by a panel of Rothamsted staff, who will then assign a suitable scientist to work with the applicant to produce a project plan.

FarmInn will work closely with the Innovative Farmers scheme which already has an established network of farmers and growers running on-farm trials.

Dr Kate Pressland, Programme Manager of Innovative Farmers said: “The two initiatives will complement each other greatly, we anticipate some of our Field Labs graduating to FarmInn to give them the potential to be scaled up and more rigorously tested.

“Likewise, some FarmInn applications may be referred to our scheme for proof of concept testing or as a pilot to more detailed research.

Innovative Farmers will have representation on the FarmInn Steering Group along with AHDB, Agri-Tech East, LEAF, and the NFU. The FarmInn Steering Group will allocate appropriate resources once the project plan has been completed. 

Tim Isaac, Head of Arable Knowledge Exchange at AHDB, said: “FarmInn is a great strategic fit for AHDB as it champions our preferred farmer led approach while focusing on farm-based trials as the key to unlocking improvements in productivity.

“Together with our involvement in Innovative Farmers and our own network of farms, this initiative will help in the faster dissemination of learning that the industry rightly demands. Furthermore, by combining science with practice it should also help to identify new approaches that are both robust and relevant.”

According to Dr Shield, once up and running, the projects’ results will be presented via on-farm demonstrations, websites and social media, as well as an annual conference.

He said: “Along with AHDB, we will make sure the findings are shared as widely as possible, so that these real-world, proven solutions can be implemented on farms throughout the country.

“Linking Rothamsted Research scientists with farmers who are pro-active and innovative will build better relationships and create a dialogue to influence future research projects.”

More information on the FarmInn scheme, including how to apply, can be found at: https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/farminn

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

About BBSRC
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.