|From left: Dr. Alistair Leake, GWCT's Allerton project; Dr Susanne Padel, Organic Research Centre; Sonia Phippard, Director General of Policy at Defra; Patrick Holden, representing the Soil Association.|
I get invited to quite a number of work related events, but invariably I turn to the relevant page in the diary, only to find that once again I already have a commitment for that day. So it was a pleasant surprise when an invitation to attend the launch of a new website, “www.agricology.co.uk” for Friday the 27th of November, was shock horror, FREE!
I was quite well briefed on this new initiative as GWCT colleague, Alistair Leake, (Alistair heads up the GWCT’s farm at the Allerton project, Loddington, Leicestershire) has been a one of the key players in getting this initiative off of the ground and I have also supplied a few photographs for the new website.
More than seventy people attended the launch, which was held at the wonderful Daylesford organic farm near Kingham in Gloucestershire, by kind permission of Carole Bamford. I must say that the staff from the centre made everyone extremely welcome and provided us with a delicious lunch too!
So what exactly is “Agricology”?
Well, it is a collaboration of independent organisations and farmers that provide practical and knowledge-based information about sustainable farming. It promotes sustainable farming regardless of labels and encourages good agricultural practices by using the best ideas from organic farming and integrated conventional farming. The aim of this new website is to bring together information and knowledge to help secure a productive, resilient and sustainable future for agriculture and the farmed environment.
The three key players that have come together to create this exciting new initiative are, the Daylesford foundation, the Allerton Trust and the Organic Research Centre at Elm farm. But importantly they have a wide range of support from across the industry, from organisations such as NIAB, Rothamsted research, LEAF, FWAG, Natural England and DEFRA, just to mention but a few.
Following a welcome from the host, Carol Bamford, there were three really excellent talks, indeed dare I say it - refreshingly so!
Patrick Holden, the well-known supporter of organic farming, told the audience how important it is that all sectors of agriculture work closely together and share their collective knowledge. Indeed, he was humble enough to say that perhaps in the past, there were times when the organic movement had not communicated well with other forms of farming and maybe vice-versa.
Alistair Leake spoke eloquently about the importance of research and how sharing and accessing practically based science, is so absolutely key to both the success of sustainable farming and the environment as a whole.
Finally, Sonia Phippard, Director General of Policy at Defra, gave her fulsome support to the initiative and seemed really delighted that she could be there to say how important she thought the Agricology initiative is going to be, in delivering practical information for sustainable farming going forward.
Before leaving the event, a number of people were giving a tour around the Daylesford dairy enterprise by Richard Smith, the senior farms manager. Listening to Richard talk so passionately about his dairy cows, made me begin to see why these people and their associated organisations have fitted so well together and launched this new website.
They all truly believe that profitable, sustainable farming and a thriving healthy environment can go hand in hand. However, to achieve this, ALL forms of agriculture must work closely together, using the very best, up-to-date practical science.
I for one, fully endorse this and hope that you too will take time to look at the new Agricology website, following it over the coming months as it becomes more and more populated with world-class examples, taken from a range of applied and academic sources and of course, from the practitioners themselves – the farmers!
Go to: www.agricology.co.uk
A few more photos of the launch event:
|Alistair Leake spoke of the importance of practically based research|
|Sonia Phippard was very enthusiastic about Agricology|
|Delegates thoroughly enjoyed looking around the dairy unit|
|Richard Smith's enthusiasm was a typical trait of the day!|