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Regenerative Agriculture Workshop 7-8 May 2024

On 7 and 8 May, researchers from the FixOurFood (led by the University of York) and H3 (healthy soils, healthy food, healthy people led by the University of Sheffield) research projects came together with farmers and allied organisations to ‘Share Experiences of Regenerative Agriculture’. The event was supported by funds from the Transforming UK Food System Programme, which both projects are part of, and held at the University of Leeds farm and Hazelwood Castle. On day one, attendees heard about the research being carried out in Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire and had an opportunity to tour the Regenerative Agriculture trial at the University of Leeds research farm. In the field there was an opportunity to share experiences, with the Leeds research team highlighting the challenges they had faced this spring with terminating the cover crop and establishing spring barley. Other topics of conversation included how to measure soil carbon accurately, the challenges of direct drilling this year given the wet weather, how best to manage weeds and volunteers, why producers won’t take blends of cereal crops and how this can/should change, the benefits of using cover crops and organic amendments. All in all it was a lively and enthusiastic discussion that set us up for the following day at Hazelwood Castle.

 

On day two, we started by hearing about other research being carried out across the UK on regenerative agriculture in research institutes, by farmer groups and agri-businesses. This was followed by a session on looking at the main goals and opportunities of regenerative agriculture before a session on challenges and barriers. Attendees worked in groups to rank what they thought were the main goals and opportunities and challenges and barriers. After lunch there was a session that looked at the lived experience of using regenerative practices on different soil types and identified what worked well and not so well! Throughout the day attendees were asked to post any
contentious issues in regenerative agriculture into a post box and these were compiled into 15 main areas – with the use of glyphosate being identified as the number one most contentious issue. Other contentious issues included lack of a definition for regenerative agriculture, the pros and cons of certification of regenerative agriculture, and how to avoid greenwashing. The last session of the day was a panel and open discussion that covered ways in which farmers, scientist and allied organisation could come together to carry out research that supports the transition to regenerative agriculture and to provide evidence for farmers and policy makers.

 

To find out more about our research into Regenerative Agriculture, visit our website.

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