Young Farmer Focus: Joe Collins

Joe Collins, IfA’s Soil & Water Research Assistant, talks about his role at IfA including his work experience as part of the Cator-Gardner Scholarship in the Young Farmer Focus article in the Farmers Guardian.

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Visit IfA at Dairy-Tech 2019

The IfA team are at dairy-Tech 2019, talk to them about  4D4F, NEFERTITI and their projects on antibiotic resistance to see how using the latest technology and improved animal welfare can reduce the use of antibiotics on farm and increase farm profitability.

IfA’s video launch highlights UK success stories on reducing antibiotic use in farm animals

UK farmers should be congratulated on achieving a 40% reduction in antibiotic use in 5 years (to 2017) with even bigger falls in critically important antibiotics. In many cases this has happened by improving management practices which has also resulted in increased profitability. However, this is just the beginning and we need to keep on improving.

Innovation for Agriculture has produced the first 20  in a series of best practice videos looking at farmer’s tips on how they have achieved this – covering pigs, dairy, sheep, beef and calf rearing and this can be accessed at  . This is a free resource funded by the Cadogan Charity.

Innovation for Agriculture will also participate in a European initiative DISARM (Disseminating Innovative Solutions for Antibiotic Resistance Management). This will serve to bring together industry stakeholders, (farmers, veterinarians, industry professionals, advisors, and processors), in a Community of Practice (CoP); to help identify and disseminate best practice antibiotic use. IfA would like to encourage anyone wishing to partake in the CoP, or find out more to please get in touch.

Evaluation Of Soil Health Following Digestate Application

Agrocycle is an EU Horizon 2020 project aiming to better understand and address waste streams associated with the agri-food industry. The AgroCycle Project aims to deliver sustainable waste valorisation pathways addressing the European policy target of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. As part of this approach the project has been analyzing agri-food waste value chains, from farm-to-table, livestock and crop production, food processing and the retail sector – identifying opportunities for valorisation pathways, including: bio-fuels, high value-added biopolymers, energy and microbial fuel cells.

Here is some of this work undertaken as part of an MRes research programme at Harper Adams University in England, UK, the researcher being funded through the Agrocycle project and Innovation for Agriculture being the industrial partner.  The work looks at the evaluation of soil health following disgestate application.

IfA is part of a 7-million-euro project to boost farm advisory digital innovation

A 7 million euro project, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme, was launched at the end of November in Dublin, Ireland.

FAIRshare, which is being led by Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, brings together 22 partners from 15 countries across Europe. The five-year project revolves around the farm advisor community, with the aim to empower them to unlock the potential of digitisation for farmers and society.

The project will engage, enable and empower the independent farm advisory community, through sharing of tools, expertise and experiences. FAIRshare partners believe that by improving agricultural advisors’ understanding and use of digital tools and services, this will enable them to advocate a better uptake of digital technologies by European farmers.

Project Coordinator, Professor Tom Kelly from Teagasc said “Electronic data generation, analytics and communication technologies have the potential to enable more accurate, faster and better decision-making on farms. There is a danger that digitisation and future innovations will be hampered unless the rural advisory community is mobilised to take ownership of digital tools and to advocate at the user interface.

The FAIRshare project has two main objectives. Firstly, to develop an open inventory of the digital tools and services in use internationally, which will be available to all advisors. Secondly, to create a ‘living lab’ which empowers advisors from across the EU to engage and interact with the online inventory.”

FAIRshare will fund 40 different advisory cases that will enable advisors to address the challenge of embedding digital tools in different advisory and farming contexts across the EU. Special focus will be on co-designing powerful communication and engagement approaches for advisors to advocate and inspire their peers and farmer clients, driving a stronger network for the wider and better use of digital tools.

Editor Notes:

FAIRshare in figures:


5 years of project

22 partners from 15 countries

6 998 652.50 € of budget



TEAGASC – Ireland




SEASN – Croatia


Agricultural University of Athens – EL

ZLTO – Netherlands



Fundacion Cajamar – ES

Consulai – PT

Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture – HU


Stichting Wageningen Research – NL

Naturland – Germany

Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentacion y Medio Ambiente – ES

Association des chambres d’agriculture de l’arc atlantique – FR





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Soil Farmer of the Year competition launched on World Soil Day

Sharing best practice and innovation through championing farmers who are improving their soils.

The Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit and Innovation for Agriculture’s competition to find the UK’s Soil Farmer of the Year 2019 is open for applications.

Following on from its success over the last three years, the competition opens again this year on World Soils Day, highlighting the important role farmers have to play in managing, protecting and sustaining soils. It aims to find farmers and growers who are engaged with and passionate about managing their soils in a way which supports productive agriculture, promotes biodiversity, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and builds soil organic matter.

The competition has attracted a high calibre of applicants with top quality farmers being recognised over the last three years. Originally won by Clive Bailye in its inaugural year, the competition has recognised Richard Suddes and Tim Parton in 2017, and Simon Cowell in 2018 along with a host of other talented farmers who are passionate about soil management who have been finalists.

5 Quick Questions for Dairy Farmers

As project leader for 4D4F (Data Decisions for Dairy Farmers) we would like to hear from dairy farmers about what really matters to you.

There are 5 quick questions about the use of sensor technologies to improve productivity and sustainability on dairy farms:

Link here

30 Healthy Soil Workshops – coming soon!

Innovation for Agriculture, in partnership with Catchment Sensitive Farming, are running Healthy Soils workshops over the country this winter.

Commencing on the 17th December 2018 in Norfolk there will be 30 interactive workshops delivered to farmers and advisors before spring.

These events are free to attend and are focusing on soil health and building soil organic matter for soil health and fertility.

All events will be listed on the IfA website shortly.

Sharing data and experience to benefit sustainable dairy farming

For the 4D4F farming network, the sharing of tech know-how has already resulted in improved welfare and profitability, with potential to increase feed efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The EU-supported 4D4F network  was established to help dairy farmers base management decisions on data, such as that gathered by sensing equipment, leading to best practices for more sustainable dairy farming.

Sharing knowledge

4D4F has evolved around a European-wide Community of Practice (CoP) to share knowledge, both physically and virtually. As project coordinator, Mr Richard Lloyd explains, “It was important to focus on subjects determined in a bottom-up way. So the community voted on what was important for them. Out of this we arrived at 12 special interest groups.”

For each group 4D4F developed a Best Practice Guide, an infographic and a best practice video, all made available in the languages of the project partners.

These groups, along with an additional virtual resource known as the Warehouse of Technology, (comprising an overview of, and comparisons between, all of the current technology), were crucial to not only help farmers make the best investment decisions for their particular farms, but also unlock the potential of the technology already owned.

Read full article here