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Green Horizons Blog

July 23, 2021

Green Horizons Farmer Network

When we initially launched Green Horizons, we knew it was crucial to have a direct link with farmers feeding into the initiative. The idea of a ‘Farmer network’ was proposed as a way of not only engaging with forward-thinking farmers, but also to encourage knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning. There are numerous innovative ideas and examples of practices working within different farming systems, but the question is, how do we maximise their potential and share experiences? We set out by selecting a range of customers who are each along different stages on their journey towards a more sustainable production system, which shortly became a network of 12 farmers.

Following our initial meeting in March, we wanted to ensure this wouldn’t turn out to be another series of Teams or Zoom meetings, so we set out on the Green Horizons ‘grand tour’ around the country. To see the various systems and trials people had on their own farms was astounding. Despite the different challenges and way of working, the same questions persisted throughout:
• ‘How can I reduce my reliance on inputs whilst still growing a good quality crop?’
• ‘What can I do to become more resilient to the extreme weather events we are getting?’
• ‘What will ELMS look like? And how can I prepare for it?’
• ‘There has got to be a way to farm profitably whilst also enhancing the environment’

These questions came as no surprise, and we were conscious that the answer on one farm may not be the answer on another. In the hope that we could at least start new ways of thinking, we began looking at different areas of the farm where we could maximise efficiency in line with current systems and objectives. With thoughts planted and more questions being pondered, we will be establishing a series of ‘black and white’ tramline trials to help provide us all with some answers. More importantly, these ideas will be tested under their own farming system and on a large scale, providing answers that will work for them. At the end, data and experiences will be shared amongst the group, which will help others accelerate faster along their journey.

We are off to a good start, with the right questions being asked and the keen enthusiasm to try new things. I can only imagine what the conversations will be like when we get everyone together at the end of the year! By having a group of farmers directly inputting into Green Horizons, we hope to deliver to our customers needs, and listen to how we can support people along their journey to sustainable food production.