ELMS-Exchange project highlights
The Environmental Land Management Strategic Knowledge Exchange Hub (ELMS-Exchange) brings a systems thinking approach to the challenges and opportunities presented by new environmental policy. Initially in the South West of England, the programme aims to collaborate with key stakeholders in the agricultural industry and the environmental sector to identify knowledge and evidence gaps.
Building partnerships and knowledge exchange projects that tackle the required research and development will support both farmers and policymakers. A key focus of the Hub is to utilise the existing research expertise of the University to help mitigate risks faced by the agricultural industry. Therefore, aiding the provision of evidence bases and guidance to support the implementation of new policy for the environment and food production. 

Collaborative workshop

In November 2022 the ELMS-Exchange programme hosted an engaging workshop in partnership with the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA). The event 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. 
Centred around the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), the first of the government’s new environmental schemes, the workshop explored how SFI can deliver for soil health, farm productivity and food security. Speakers from the Defra Rural Payments Agency and the National Farmers Union (NFU) informed delegates on the background of current policy initiatives, with the NFU highlighting the SFI’s challenges and opportunities from the agricultural industry’s perspective.
Breakout sessions during the workshop generated an understanding of knowledge gaps and how research can shape and underpin implementation of the SFI. Delegates identified six key research and development themes that would support both policy and practice. The programme has since launched a pump-priming call for cross-sector projects which establish collaborations between academics, external industry and policy partners. 
The team worked with Carey Marks to create large illustrations capturing the day's highlights. Carey has collaborated with university previously through the Creative Associates project, which explores novel and innovative ways of communicating research. 
<p>Carey Marks illustration of Environmental Land Management Strategic Knowledge Exchange Hub (ELMS-Exchange) workshop with the Sustainable Soils Alliance&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
<p>Participants at the ELMS-Exchange Workshop in November 2022</p>
<p>Soil assessment fieldwork with hands</p>

Key research & development themes

  • x Co-created research and public understanding
  • x The ‘optimal farming system’
  • x Disseminating existing knowledge
  • x Big data
  • x Testing methods
  • x SFI actions to outcomes

Funding call

Building on the momentum of the workshop, a pump-priming call for cross-sector projects, which aim to establish new (or enhance existing) collaborations between academic researchers, external industry and policy partners, was launched by the ELMS-Exchange team. Eligible projects must be completed by 31 July 2023 and include a University of Plymouth staff member.
The application deadline for submissions to this funding call has now closed and allocation of funds will be announced in due course. Look out for updates on new projects soon.
<p>ELMS-Exchange Funding call workshop<br></p>
<p>The ELMS-Exchange team carry out soil assessment fieldwork</p>

Soil assessment fieldwork

A core activity for the ELMS-Exchange programme is an interdisciplinary research project, exploring the validation of on-farm soil assessment and actions from the SFI. 
Working with farmers, the study will gain perceptions and perspectives on the practical value, utility and applicability of the on-farm assessment. The team began a pilot study at a South Devon farm in November 2022 and will roll out to other farm types in 2023.

Rootstock agri-conference

Devon’s future farming conference, Rootstock, will be held on 3rd February 2023 to support forward-thinking, profitable, suitable farming in tune with natural processes. 
Director of ELMS-Exchange and the Sustainable Earth Institute, Professor Will Blake will be chairing the session on emerging technologies, soil science and carbon management. Professor Mick Fuller, Professor Andy Neal (Rothamstead Research), Becky Wilson (Farm Carbon Toolkit) and Tom Tolputt (SW Farm Consultants) will be guest speakers for the session.
<p>Gold wheat field and blue sky</p>