On-farm Trials

At Tolhurst Organic we believe in continuous improvements in growing techniques. We believe that you can only learn how to better do things on a farm if proper research and trials are carried out on farms and not just in labs, and that the trials knowledge and results are replicated and disseminated across the industry for all interested growers to take up innovative approaches in their work.

For this, we are partnering with leading research and trial programmes in organic and sustainable farming and are hosting a series of research projects funded by various bodies.

The Organic Research Centre at Elm Farm is a leading research partner and conducts numerous trials at our farm.

The Soil Association’s Innovative Farming Programme, are working with more than 400 leading farmers who run ‘field labs’: practical trials set up to find solutions to some of farming’s biggest problems. And we are one of them.

Below is a list of current and past research projects carried at our farm:

WOOdchip For Fertile Soils (WOOFS)

1 September 2017 to 1 September 2020
Main funder: European Innovation Partnership (EIP), RDPE scheme

This project will trial the addition of uncomposted vs composted woodchip from on-farm woody resources as a soil improver. By linking management of farm hedges and trees with the improvement of soils for agricultural production and providing an additional economic incentive for management of hedges and on-farm woody resources the project aims to increase the sustainability of the system as a whole. To learn more, click here

Agroforestry for Europe (AGFORWARD)

1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017
Main funder: EU FP7

The overall goal of the project was to promote agroforestry practices in Europe that will advance sustainable rural development, i.e. improved competitiveness, and social and environmental enhancement. To achieve this, the AGFORWARD project had four main aims:
1) To improve our understanding of the technical, environmental and socio-economic functioning of existing and new extensive and intensive agroforestry systems,
2) To identify, develop and field-test innovations related to provisioning and other ecosystem services (biodiversity, carbon storage, nutrient cycling, resilience, stress toleration) to improve the benefits and viability of agroforestry systems in Europe,
3) To develop and update designs and practices adapted for areas where agroforestry is currently not-practised or is declining, and
4) To promote the wider adoption of appropriate agroforestry systems in Europe.

A central part of the project was the development of a number of participatory research and development networks where project participants  worked with land managers and other stakeholders, using existing knowledge and experience of their own multifunctional systems, to identify key challenges and potential innovations to improve their systems. These innovations were then evaluated experimentally and on-farm. Read the project report WP4_UK_Silvoarable_system_description 2 (1)