UK farmers and growers will have access to more than 50 farmer-to-farmer learning events this summer.
The events are part of AHDB’s Farm Excellence work to help industry prepare for the challenges ahead.
They include meetings hosted at Strategic Farms, Monitor Farms, Horticulture Centres and more, and are designed for farmers to learn from each other in an independent, locally-relevant setting.
Susannah Bolton, AHDB Director of Knowledge Exchange, said: “The events give farmers and growers the chance to discuss common challenges and see new ideas in action. We hope attendees will leave with one change to try at home, whether that be adopting benchmarking to manage their costs or considering investment in a new product or practice.”
The low down
2 Horticulture Centres
12 Challenge Sheep events
17 Strategic Farms (Beef & Lamb, Cereals & Oilseeds, Dairy, Pork and Potatoes)
27 Monitor Farms
Geographically the spread is huge, stretching from Cornwall to Shetland, Northern Ireland and East Anglia, and includes collaboration with other organisations such as Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
Karen Halton, who hosts a Dairy Strategic Farm at Chance Hall Farm in Cheshire, explained why she wanted to get involved with the initiative. “We are passionate and proud of what we do. We are open and honest and not afraid to share our journey so far to help others and also to learn more from fellow farmers and professionals in the industry.”
AHDB is investing £2 million in knowledge exchange activities in 2018/19. Years of experience have shown that farmers learn best from each other, by actually seeing new practices in operation.
Susannah Bolton, AHDB Head of Knowledge Exchange, said: “Now that the network is so extensive, we can ensure that each farm event is focused on the specific needs and opportunities in that particular region.
“These events allow us to reach a much greater network of farmers and growers and other interested stakeholders, including farm advisers and researchers who can see the implementation of best practice and innovation in a commercial farm setting.”
Research carried out by the University of East Anglia for AHDB backs up the theory of farmer-to-farmer learning: it found that good knowledge exchange and education initiatives, ideally delivered in a face-to-face manner or making the most of active demonstrations, were key factors in influencing behaviours.
Susannah added: “The farmer-led, Farm Excellence events I’ve been to have been engaging, inspiring and thought-provoking.”
What to expect
Each of the Farm Excellence events has been tailored by the host farmers, growers and their steering groups to suit the needs of the local area.
Topics across the meetings will include:
Grassland management, performance and breeding for beef and lamb
Cereals and oilseeds yield enhancement, soil health and cost management
Optimal Dairy Systems
Lamb performance and BCS, weaning and options for sheep scab testing
Trials and varieties with commercial application
Physical and financial performance
BASIS and NRoSO points are available for many of the events.