Agricology @ ORFC 2019

7th December 2019

Agricology are very involved in the Oxford Real Farming Conference – they are a sponsor (without which we would not be able to host the conference and for which we are hugely grateful!) and along with the Soil Association and Pasture Fed Livestock Association are curating the Farming Practice strand of sessions at ORFC 2019. Here they explain more about who they are, what they do, and how they are involved in ORFC…



Agricology is a collaboration of farmers, researchers and advisers who are working towards a more resource efficient, resilient and profitable farming systems based on agroecology principles. We bring together the latest advice on transitioning to sustainable farming practices by sharing key learnings through online resources and events in the field. Each month we publish a farmer or grower profile showcasing the use of agroecology in practice to enhance their agricultural system; demonstrated through videos, images, ideas and practical tips. We also provide showcase guest blogs and research hubs for researchers to share what they are learning directly with the farming community and have a growing library of over 300 resources.

For practical tips and expert advice join the conversation @agricology or visit our website to learn more about putting agroecology into practice with our friendly community of farmers and researchers. We also run field based events and are active participants in many of our partner conferences – all details and content is shared on our website. Sign up to our newsletter for a round up of all our activities and resources.

At the Oxford Real Farming Conference we will be hosting the ‘Farm Practice’ room (Assembly Room and St Aldate’s Room) at ORFC19 along with our friends at the PFLA and Soil Association. Our focus will be on practical agronomy and putting agroecology into practice. Bringing together researchers and farmers to share their experiences with agroecological practices including intercropping, diverse leys and integrated pest management. Over the course of the two days they will be sharing practical tips and exploring a diverse range of topics in interactive talks, panel discussions and breakout sessions. For more information come along and join us!

Farm Practice Room Programme:

The first of these sessions will examine ‘intercropping in research and practices’ and how growing crops together presents opportunities for enhancing the resource use efficiency and resilience of cropping systems. The panel includes Cereal Pathologist Dr. Adrian Newton (James Hutton Institute), Dr. Charlotte Bickler and Katie Bliss (ORC) and Andy Howard (Bockhanger Farm). They will explore the potential of ‘plant teams’ in theory and practice, and share some of the practical findings from the Innovative Farmers and Diversify Field Lab. For more information on this topic visit our website and see other examples such as the potential for companion cropping and intercropping on UK arable farms or is intercropping the way forward for arable?

Another session will look at ‘managing pests biologically’ through an integrated approach, including improving our knowledge of pest lifecycles and integrating habitat to encourage their enemies. During this session Charlotte Rowley (AHDB), Richard Pyell (CEH) and Julian Gold (Hendred Farm) will share experiences and tips from their scientific and practical understanding to help us look to design pest resilient farming systems for the future. For more information on this topic visit our website and see other examples such as integrated pest management, the Sustainable control of crop pests or bringing in the bugs.

There will also be a session on ‘plants in the wrong place’ that focuses on Agroecological approaches to weed control – looking at including direct, cultural and biological control methods. Our speakers include weed biologist, Lynn Tatnell (ADAS) and plant ecologist Jonathan Storkey (Rothamstead Research) who will outline agroecological approaches to managing weeds with examples of some of the most troublesome arable and horticultural weed species. For more information on this topic visit our website and see other examples such as crop protection in reduced tillage systems, crop rotation and its ability to suppress perennial weeds or tackling the footprint of pests, weeds & diseases in our food system.

Our final session, ‘Ley of the land’, will delve into integrating leys in cropping systems for soil health. Many progressive farmers and growers are seeing the benefits of integrating leys into cropping systems – for weed management and soil health. The panel will include senior soil scientist Dr. Lizzie Sagoo (ADAS), Dr. Lydia Smith (NIAB) and Joe Howard (Little Morton Farm) who will together explore these benefits as well as the practical and financial implications from their research and experience in the field. For more information on this topic visit our website and see other examples such as rotational benefits of leys – looking to the future, herbal leys, the herbal ley farming system and using legume-based mixtures to enhance the nitrogen use efficiency and economic viability of cropping systems.

by Lydia Moore, Agricology