LEAF’s Blog

If you are interested in reading more on a range of subjects from sustainable farming to tips for farmers to preparing for Open Farm Sunday then make sure you bookmark this page to stay up-to-date.

We’re talking waste – measuring, monitoring and moving forward

As WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) releases its ground-breaking report setting out new insights into the scale of surplus and food waste on UK farms, Alexandra Lear, LEAF Projects Assistant, outlines the opportunities it offers to improve efficiencies and deliver more sustainable production throughout the supply chain. 

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Continual Improvement in Demonstration

There’s no substitute for seeing things in action.  You can be told how something works, explained about the merits of a particular farming practice, extolled the virtues of a smart bit of new technology, but it is not until you actually see it in practice, in a real-life situation, that knowledge sticks.  Based on the idea that farmers learn best from other farmers and want new ideas, practices and innovations demonstrated to them where it matters – out in the field – LEAF’s annual IFM Field Event aims to boost learning through this science into practice approach.  We talk to LEAF Technical Coordinator (Projects), Laura Tippin about what makes an effective demonstration event. 

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Time to Speak Out - transforming ideas and championing change

On the 24th April, LEAF will be taking to the road for its Speak Out Roadshow, visiting ten locations across the UK offering communications masterclasses to farmers and researchers.  Ahead of the trip, we catch up with Alice Midmer, LEAF’s Demonstration and Innovation Manager who shares her thoughts on why, more than ever, it is time to speak out for British farming… 

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An Interview with Katy Pallas, LEAF Education Regional Education Consultant

LEAF Education’s team of Regional Education Consultants (RECs) play a key role out in the regions working with farmers, teachers, schools and colleges as well as local businesses and community initiatives to inspire young people about food and farming.  Katy Pallas, LEAF Education REC for the North West shares her thoughts on why Ag Education matters and why we need to showcase and celebrate success.

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A Young Researcher On A Mission

LEAF is one of the partners in an exciting four year European project called DIVERSify exploring the benefits of ‘plant teams’ or intercropping which basically means growing two or more crops together, at the same time, in the same space.  As well as looking at how plant teams can help boost yields and improve sustainability, it is also helping to upskill young researchers through its Young Researcher Program and online Speak Out Toolkit.

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A BASIS Introduction to LEAF Marque and IFM

Equipping farmers with the right skills and know-how to farm more sustainably is a big part of what LEAF does. This April, farmers and advisers will be heading to our two-day LEAF BASIS ‘Introduction to IFM’ and LEAF Marque training course to get the latest thinking around IFM and an insight into the nuts and bolts of LEAF Marque certification.  Emma Hamer, Senior Plant Health Adviser at the NFU, attended the course last year and tells us more about how its feeding into the current review of the Voluntary Initiatives IPM Plan. 

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Diversity in Arable Farming – The how, the why, the what

On April 9th, LEAF, The Woodland Trust and The Allerton Project are teaming up to deliver an event looking at what would tempt an arable farmer to look into grass leys, livestock and trees and the business opportunities they could bring.   

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Soil Health: The how, the why and future directions

As part of LEAF’s ten-year plan for the development of LEAF Marque, we are focusing on soil health.  University of Reading, Masters student, Sam Brook is carrying out a scoping study for LEAF and here he discusses the outcomes of the LEAF member survey and next steps.

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Does LEAF Marque deliver more sustainable farming? Why Outcomes Matter

Jenny Clark, Senior Technical Assistant, discusses the importance of outcome-based approaches, why they matter and the ground-breaking lead LEAF is taking in this area to ensure the LEAF Marque Standard continues to drive forward innovation, improvements and meaningful changes towards more sustainable farming. 

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Smarter Farming Through Know-how and Networks

The how, what and why of sustainable farming is what LEAF is all about. LEAF is asking some fundamental questions around what sustainable farming looks like, how we measure it and why it matters.  All these questions (and lots more) determine our objectives, shape our ideas and inform our decisions.   Laura Tippin, Technical Assistant at LEAF explains how its management tools, research, demonstration and industry outreach activities provide the essential starting point. 

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Boosting Business Success through Biodiversity

LEAF is all about putting farmers firmly in the driving seat to deliver more sustainable farming.  Our annual IFM Event is a big part of this – bringing farmers, researchers, advisors and industry experts together to explore new ideas, highlight innovations and share ingenuity.  LEAF’s IFM Manager, Alice Midmer, tells us more about this year’s event.

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The power of film to demonstrate innovation and learnings on farm

LEAF’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Simon Bull talks about the importance of farm demonstration to help drive forward knowledge generation and exchange within the farming industry, in particular demonstration, harnessing the power of film.

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Simply Sustainable Biosecurity

This week LEAF will be launching Simply Sustainable Biosecurity, the fourth in our Simply Sustainable series of technical guidance booklets.  Ahead of its launch, Senior Technical Assistant, Jenny Clark, sets out the basics of biosecurity, its importance to sustainability and highlights LEAF’s growing offer in the livestock sector. 

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Keeping your professional development continuous

LEAF’s IFM Manager, Alice Midmer talks about the importance of farmers investing in their own learning to help drive forward a more resilient and responsive farming industry. 

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PLAID: Seeing is believing

LEAF IFM Manager, Alice Midmer discusses the power of farm demonstration activities as a powerful knowledge exchange tool to drive forward more sustainable farming. Here she highlights best practice examples and how LEAF’s involvement in the PLAID (Peer to peer learning. Assessing Innovation through Demonstration) project has the potential to deliver great advances in this area. 

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Intercropping: LEAF Investigates…

Here at LEAF, we are involved with a number of research projects, looking at new and innovative Integrated Farm Management approaches. One area we, and our Demonstration Farmers, will be looking into in more detail is Intercropping. What is it? Why use it? What challenges does it address and what mixes to use.  LEAF Technical Assistant, Laura Tippin, explains more…

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LEAF Marque delivering added value to members

The results of independent research into the added value of LEAF Marque certification were released last week.  The study, commissioned by LEAF and carried out by CCRI (The Countryside and Community Research Institute), reveals that LEAF Marque certification can offer significant financial, environmental and social benefits for farm businesses both in the UK and overseas.  Kathryn Green, LEAF Sustainability Manager, explains more.

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Touching on the Technology of Sustainable Farming

On the 25th May 2017, LEAF will hold its second Integrated Farm Management (IFM) Conference at FERA Science Ltd, York, kindly supported by Bayer. Titled, Technology and Progression in IFM, the conference will draw on research and demonstration activities of the LEAF Network to explore the current role of  technology  in IFM and how technology will shape and progress IFM moving forwards. We ask Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive to reflect on the rise of technology in farming, how it has shaped the farming landscape and its future role.

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