ELMS-Exchange Workshop Carey Marks Illustration

Workshop: Evidencing how the Sustainable Farming Incentive delivers for soil health and food security

In partnership with the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA) the ELMS-Exchange programme hosted a workshop centred around the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), the first of the Government’s new environmental schemes. The event, in November 2022, was attended by 60 experts from across the agricultural and technology industries, local government and government departments, environmental NGO’s, and academics from Plymouth and other universities.
Speakers from the Defra Rural Payments Agency and the National Farmers Union (NFU) informed delegates on the background of current policy initiatives. The NFU highlighted the challenges and opportunities of the SFI from the agricultural industry’s perspective. 
The workshop explored how the SFI can deliver for soil health, farm productivity and food security. Breakout sessions generated an understanding of knowledge gaps and how research can shape and underpin implementation of the SFI. The workshop report PDF can be found on the SSA website.
To advance collaborations between academics, external industry and policy partners, the ELMS-Exchange will provide future funding to cross-sector projects which align with the six main Research and Development themes identified during the workshop. Once confirmed, details of the pump-priming projects funded by the programme will be summarised below.
Soil assessment fieldwork- ELMS-Exchange
Participants at the ELMS-Exchange Workshop in November 2022
ELMS-Exchange workshop projects illustration by Carey Marks

Key research & development themes


Soil assessment fieldwork

Exploring the validation of on-farm soil assessment and actions from the SFI is a core activity for the ELMS-Exchange programme. Working with farmers, the interdisciplinary study will gain perceptions and perspectives on the practical value, utility and applicability of the on-farm assessment. 
Following a pilot study in South Devon in 2022, the team will evaluate other farm types during 2023. 
The ELMS-Exchange team carry out soil assessment fieldwork
Vegetable field soil assessment, ELMS-Exchange fieldwork

Rootstock agri-conference

Devon’s future farming conference to support forward-thinking, profitable farming in tune with emerging technology and natural processes was held in February 2023. 
Director of the ELMS-Exchange, Professor Will Blake chaired a session on Technology, Soils & Carbon and Professor Mick Fuller presented on Emerging Technologies, Soil Science and Carbon Management. Professor Fuller highlighted research findings from the ReCon Soil project, including the latest soil analysis technology – the Robotic Traction Unit (RTU) and handheld Near Infrared Scanners.