Farmers and researchers join forces to tackle food production challenges

The future of efficient farming and sustainable crop production was up for debate when fifty farmers and agribusiness representatives from across the UK visited one of N8 AgriFood’s research farms.

For the first time ever, N8 AgriFood opened the doors to one of its five research farms for an Open Day, in an effort to share expertise and hear first-hand about the challenges facing the sector.

Held at the University of Leeds’ Spen Farm facility, near Tadcaster, the event invited farmers and agribusinesses to hear about the latest research being undertaken within N8 AgriFood, and have the opportunity to contribute their ideas for where further research needs to take place in the future.

Dr Sally Howlett, pictured left, one of N8 AgriFood’s Knowledge Exchange Fellows, based at the University of York, organised the event. She said: “As a research programme, we want to create a network of farmers who are interested in working as equal partners in research with us. To help build those relationships, we wanted to give farmers the chance to look over the hedge and see what goes on at a research farm.

“We were delighted with the number of people who attended, and the broad range of farming and business interests they represented.

“There were some fantastic two way discussions over the course of the day, and I think everyone took a lot away from it. We certainly made some very useful contacts who I’m sure will be able to provide a valuable contribution to some of our research going forward.”

Discussions during the day included a presentation and field demonstration from the University of Sheffield’s Professor Jonathan Leake, who talked about research into the re-integration of leys into arable farming to improve soil health. Dr Katie Field, Dr Stefan Kepinski, and Professor Lisa Collins, all of the University of Leeds, gave presentations into the institution’s Soil, Plant Environment Network (SPEN) of researchers, the Future Crops Initiative, and Smarter Farming Futures which explored the digital landscape and data.