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Do you have a problem with rushes on your farm? Field Lab 2015

Soil Association Scotland and The Farmer Network and  are looking for farmers who might be interested in taking part in a new Field Lab on Effective Rush Control, to investigate which physical management techniques  are most effective in tackling rushes effectively without the use of chemical herbicides. Rushes have become a big issue for many farmers over the past few years and can have significant impacts on production by reducing the size of livestock grazing areas. Chemical herbicides are a widely used (if not always effective) remedy, but for many – such as organic farmers – this option may not be possible, desirable or appropriate.

We are looking for farmers who might be interested in taking part in a new Field Lab looking at Effective Rush Control, to investigate which physical management techniques (or combination of techniques) are most effective in tackling rushes effectively without the use of chemical herbicides. The field lab is open to all but will be particularly relevant to those who farm organically, or who wish to reduce their impact on the environment or reliance on chemical inputs. The project will run during 2015, and is open to both organic and non-organic farmers throughout Scotland and the north of England. Workshop locations will depend on distribution of participating farms, and information will be shared online.

What are field labs? they are run on the basis that agricultural research should tackle the real problems farmers face and help them make the best of the resources they have to hand. For this reason field labs put the farmer at the heart of the research. Farmers and growers work together with a researcher and facilitator to focus on research questions posed by you. The group of farmers and the facilitator meet up to four times during the trial to track progress and compare notes. The aims are to work out effective practical approaches to tackling a problem in sustainable farming, learn how to do more effective DIY trials and identify real gaps where academic research could make a crucial difference. The major difference between a field lab and an advisory meeting or farm walk is the testing of solutions rather than just discussing the issues or relying on off-the-peg answers. Field labs are open to all farmers and growers.  The Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme contributes the time of the researcher and facilitator and up to £500 for other costs which the field lab may incur.

If you would like more information or to express your interest, contact Colleen at cmcculloch@soilassociation.org or 0131 666 2474 or Kate at kate@thefarmernetwork.co.uk or 01768 881462 or look at the Soil Association Scotland website

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