Two leading research centres join the LEAF Network as centres of excellence for sustainable farming

Agrii’s Throws Farm Technology Centre and Newcastle University Farms have become the latest two establishments to join the LEAF Network.

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Launched today (13th October 2021) as LEAF Innovation Centres, they join the UK wide LEAF Network of farms and research centres, advancing the science and practical application of more sustainable, regenerative farming, delivered through Integrated Farm Management (IFM).

Agrii is a leading provider of agronomy services, technology and advice to the farming sector. Working with breeders, suppliers and manufacturers, it provides advice to a 280 strong agronomist network reaching 35% of UK farms. Throws Farm, based near Dunmow in Essex, is Agrii’s R&D Technology Centre and carries out applied research into integrated crop management strategies, including varietal selection, fertiliser and nutrient use efficiency, ‘greener’ pesticides, novel biosolutions, soil health and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Newcastle University Farms totals 800 hectares across two sites in Northumberland. Together, they form a diverse mixed farming enterprise consisting of dairy, arable and pigs, and use precision technology across all grass and arable land. Research areas are wide-ranging with current emphasis on IFM approaches in both crops and livestock, aiming to deliver ‘sustainable intensification’ through regenerative agriculture.

Speaking at the launch, Caroline Drummond MBE, LEAF Chief Executive said:

“We are delighted to welcome Agrii’s Throws Farm Technology Centre and Newcastle University Farms to the LEAF Network. These world class institutions, bring with them a wealth of expertise and will greatly add to our capabilities in the livestock and arable sectors. More sustainable, nature-based and agroecological approaches to farming are key to addressing the climate crisis. As LEAF embarks on its next 30 years and drives forward its ambitious 10 year strategy, the LEAF Network will be instrumental in ensuring the continual development and uptake of IFM is backed up by robust science which can be translated at farm level. It is this ‘science into practice’ approach which will ensure IFM continues to meet current and future sustainability challenges.”

Ruth Mann, Head of Integrated Crop Technologies at Agrii’s Throws Farm Technology Centre said:

“We are hugely proud to become a LEAF Innovation Centre. It recognises our commitment as a company to providing farmers with the latest research, advice and technology to build strong, resilient and profitable businesses. Pushing forward the science and technology to support more sustainable farming underpins our 5-point Green Horizons sustainability manifesto; increasing farm productivity and viability; providing integrated whole farm solutions; improving soil resilience; enhancing the environment; and extending stakeholder engagement. The LEAF Network offers a far reaching and effective platform to accelerate knowledge and uptake of more sustainable farming practices and we are delighted to be part of it.”

James Standen, Farms Director, from Newcastle University Farms added:

"Agriculture has more than 125 years history at Newcastle. Our unique combination of world-class research facilities, teaching and engagement platform of our Nafferton and Cockle Park sites allow us to work at all scales in the agri-system. Our goal is to deliver innovative agri-systems that tackle global challenges of food security, environmental change, nutrition, and energy. We greatly look forward to playing our role within LEAF’s Network as a ‘living lab’ demonstrating practical, engaged solutions for sustainability in the real-world rural environment.”

Agrii’s Throws Farm Technology Centre and Newcastle University Farms join eleven other LEAF Innovation Centres, which, together with LEAF Demonstration Farms, form the LEAF Network – a UK wide group of farms and research organisations whose work supports the research, evidence, development and promotion of more sustainable farming delivered through Integrated Farm Management.