Duchy Originals Future Farming programme supports innovative farmer-led research and peer learning in sustainable agriculture, helping British farmers to improve their productivity in an environmentally responsible way
The programme will involve farmers across the country in developing innovative techniques aimed at improving yields and nutritional performance in organic and low-input agriculture. At the heart of this activity will be a network of on-farm events called Field Labs, led by farmers and growers, where they can share their know-how, design field experiments and pinpoint practical challenges. These will shape the priorities for a new research fund, which will target key barriers to sustainable farming and food systems.
The programme will focus on ecological farming, especially approaches that reduce farmers’ reliance on external inputs. It will therefore be particularly relevant to producers who farm to organic standards, yet open to all.
Over the next 50 years, food and farming face the stark challenge of providing better nutrition for more people in spite of rapid environmental change, while cutting our diet’s impact on natural resources, ecosystems and the climate.
This calls for changes in our eating habits, reductions in food waste and improvements in food production. Research will play an important part in this, helping to identify best practice, monitor progress and develop new approaches.
In the UK, Europe and North America, a large share of agricultural research is paid for by businesses wanting to develop new inputs to sell to farmers. There is less support for research that helps farmers make the best use of the renewable resources that they already have on their farms, for example to help build soil fertility and control pests and diseases. That is why the Duchy Originals Future Farming programme focuses on ecological approaches to sustainable farming and puts farmers centre-stage.
The programme is funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation and will be delivered by the Soil Association in partnership with Duchy Originals from Waitrose and the Organic Research Centre (ORC).
Visit the Soil Association to find out more (opens in a new window)