British farming businesses are facing a number of challenges, such as uncertain weather, volatile markets and a support structure.

A consortium of farming organisations has therefore come together to explore the extent to which the application of agroecological techniques, widely adopted in organic agriculture, can help to achieve these goals. 

Issued jointly by The Organic Research Centre (ORC), the Allerton Project of GWCT, LEAF, OF&G (Organic Farmers and Growers), the Soil Association and the Agricology Project, The Defra-funded project; 'Opportunities, barriers and constraints in organic techniques helping to improve the sustainability of conventional farming', has shown that the UK has an excellent opportunity to drive the uptake of practices that can enhance the production efficiency and resilience of farming systems.

The project investigated the viability of transferring agroecological practices more widely across UK agriculture. 

In total, 110 techniques were identified and reviewed, whilst 15 practices were further evaluated for their potential to improve soil quality, nutrient use efficiency, water quality and biodiversity, use of artificial inputs and greenhouse gas efficiencies.

These practices have been summarised in fact-sheets published by Agricology for dissemination and engagement across a wide community of farmers available here.

Phil Jarvis, who farms in Loddington, Leicestershire, is using several practices. 

He says: “We need to look how we can transition from systems based on chemistry to systems based on biology – there are lots of things in nature that can help us.

"We may not get there as quick as we would like but need to be patient with it. We have to increase our knowledge and see what is best for the land on our own farms.

"It is not really learning anything new, just the fundamentals of agronomy and livestock husbandry and using that knowledge to increase production efficiencies and resilience”.