Changing our agronomy


12:00pm 16th February 2021


There is growing interest in agroecology and how we transition to a food and farming system which works in harmony with nature, adapts to climate changes, builds a thriving farming sector and sustainably provides citizens with healthy and nutritious food.

FFCC’s latest report Farming for Change introduces new research from IDDRI which includes comprehensive and systematic technical modelling for a transition to agroecology across UK nations. We are now exploring how to translate this detailed and rigorous piece of research into practical projects which support the transition to agroecology by 2030.

Routes to Action is a series of five workshops featuring a fascinating array of contributors (from farming, science, economics, ecology, food businesses and more) who will address the challenges and opportunities of transitioning towards an agroecological food system and share ideas on how to implement more agroecological farming practices - from farm to landscape to nation.

We hope that this work contributes to the groundswell of interest in agroecology and helps turn the findings of our report Farming for Change into real action. We will be including the outputs of these meetings in our final Farming for Change report, due to be published in Spring 2021.

The first in the series, Changing our Agronomy, will focus on the technical agronomic aspects of agroecology.

Who is speaking at Changing our Agronomy?

Lucy Bates, Technical Manager, LEAF

Prior to joining LEAF in 2019, Lucy worked in primary horticultural production, thatching straw processing, direct sales and arable agronomy, with experience of both organic and conventional sectors. An MSc in Agro-Ecology at Harper Adams complemented her BASIS (FACTS) qualification. One of her first projects at LEAF was the coordination of a suite of four ELM Tests & Trials. Her diverse role as technical manager means daily correspondence with a thriving network of Demonstration Farms and Innovation Centres at the forefront of the development and implementation of Integrated Farm Management, as well as providing technical support to the international LEAF Marque assurance system.

Ed Horton, Farmer

As a BASIS and FACTS trained advisor, agronomist, and farmer in my own right I have spent the past five years changing our farming system to be more agroecologically minded. Farming across 4,500ha on a varying range of soil types, crops and production systems. I have changed our farming system from a “conventional” approach of min-till on a 6-year rotation to a “hybrid” system of crop establishment on a 13-year rotation based around 16 different crops. With close integration of the livestock side of our business into the arable farm we have been able to reduce artificial inputs, gain soil organic matter, help water retention, increase biodiversity, reduce our carbon footprint, and still produce high yielding, high quality crops. The driving ethos is to be able to produce our commodities while simultaneously benefiting and improving the natural environment from a soil heath, water quality, biodiversity and carbon sequestration viewpoint, improving our resilience and leaving the farm in a better state for future generations.

Becky Willson, Business Development & Technical Director, Farm Carbon Toolkit

Becky joined FCT in January 2014. Prior to this, Becky worked on the SWARM Knowledge Hub, a project tasked with helping farmers and growers across the South West manage their resources sustainably. As part of the SWARM Hub project, Becky was part of the team that developed the Farm Crap App, a mobile phone app to help farmers calculate the nutritive value of livestock manures.

A passionate advocate for highlighting the economic benefits of sustainable farming, Becky currently divides her time between working for FCT and working for Duchy College Rural Business School as a technical specialist in resource management. In 2016 Becky was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship to study further how to communicate carbon reduction schemes to farmers, which has fed into her work at FCT and Duchy College.