Knowledge exchange is key to delivering more sustainable farming. Here Melanie Wright, Grants and KEC Support Officer, at the North Wyke site of Rothamsted Research, our latest Innovation Centre, tells us more about how they are communicating research and new technologies to farmers.
The highly successful NFU ‘Grasslands in Profile’ event hosted here at Rothamsted Research North Wyke last month provided the ideal occasion at which to launch North Wyke as the newest member of LEAF’s network of Innovation Centres.
Focussing on grassland soils, this joint event formed part of the NFU’s programme of activities for the international Year of Soils. Attracting over 70 attendees, the event was an excellent opportunity for researchers, technicians and students here at North Wyke to present their research and introduce visitors to the North Wyke Farm Platform Capability, the world’s most highly instrumented grassland livestock farm.
Despite torrential downpours throughout the morning, the Devon weather was on our side in the afternoon and visitors were treated to a tour of the farm platform with the sun streaming over Dartmoor in the distance. Robert Orr, Manager of the Farm Platform, was stationed in a windy spot at the top of the site from where he provided visitors with an overview of the farm platform and the three grassland systems being trialled on it.
Andy Retter, Instrument Technician on the Farm Platform, guided groups around through the working of one of the 15 flume labs located on the Platform which measure run off from the fields as well as a range of chemical and physical measures of water quality.
For the last stop on the tour Dr Rob Dunn introduced visitors to the research undertaken on the platform to measure greenhouse gas emissions from grasslands. Using state of the art LICOR chambers, researchers at North Wyke are measuring greenhouse gas emissions during grazing and following ploughing and re-seeding events to quantify the true impact of grassland livestock production on greenhouse gas emissions.
The BBSRC supported Farm Platform National Capability at North Wyke is at the cutting edge of research into sustainable grazing livestock systems. However, we recognise that impact will only be achieved through the dissemination of this research to the farming community. The enrolement of the North Wyke site as a LEAF Innovation Centre and events such as ‘Grasslands in profile’ are part of our growing activities to aid the transfer of knowledge to our stakeholders to put research into action.
Looking to the future North Wyke will undertake an active programme of events that will promote the principles of sustainable agriculture and Integrated Farm Management (IFM) and promote the research undertaken here to identify the most sustainable means of rearing pasture-based livestock.
In 2016, North Wyke will be working closely with the newly appointment farming representatives on its Research Advisory Group to ensure that the research undertaken at North Wyke will deliver the maximum impact for the farming sector. We will be running a number of farm tours and working with partners including LEAF to host events to further share the research and knowledge coming out of our work at North Wyke.