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The Soil Association puts farmers in the driving seat of research

The Soil Association recently announced the launch of a £125,000 fund that puts farmers and growers in the driving seat of new research. The research fund is part of the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme which supports innovation in sustainable agriculture.

By acknowledging that Farmers and growers are at the sharp end of the challenges facing food and agriculture today, the Soil Association is seeking ideas directly from Farmers and Growers.

To kick off the fund, the Soil Association is requesting farmers and growers to come forward with research challenges that affect their farm. What are the practical obstacles and gaps in know-how that hold back their efforts to boost yields and quality, and improve animal welfare and environmental performance? The fund will focus on finding low-cost, sustainable solutions that rely on management or renewable resources. The invitation is open to all farmers, organic or otherwise.

Once the ideas are in, the Soil Association and its project partner, the Organic Research Centre, will carry out a 'match-making' process to find suitable research partners to work with the farmers or growers. This partnership approach ensures that the projects remain relevant to agricultural practice, but are scientifically rigorous.

The research partner will put together a detailed proposal which will be reviewed by an expert steering group. The successful proposals will receive financial support, with both the farmers and researchers eligible for funding. The fund will be open for the next three years and will make grants of up to £25,000 each.

Although the initial closing date for the first grants was the 5th January 2013, it is still open for ideas on email and these can be sent through to: Euan Brierley, Research Manager, Soil Association ebrierley@soilassociation.org

For more information and to submit a research challenge visit http://www.soilassociation.org/researchfund

For information on the research fund contact
Euan Brierley, Research Manager, Soil Association ebrierley@soilassociation.org
Bruce Pearce, Senior Programme Manager, ORC bruce.p@organicresearchcnetre.com

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