Introduction

The Farmer-Led Innovation Network (FLIN) in the UK was accepted in April 2020 as the first Prolinnova Country Platform (CP) in the Global North. FLIN was set up in 2018 to share knowledge and experiences and provide a collective advocacy voice for farmers directly involved in these initiatives. Its main aim is to understand, learn from and "power up" farmer-led innovation initiatives in the UK.

Network objectives

  1. Work collaboratively to advance farmer-centred innovation and research in the UK
  2. Share best practice and support each other to enable each member to enhance and promote farmer-led innovation and research
  3. Promote concepts that put farmers in the driving seat and support and normalise research with impact
  4. Scale up and build the capacity of existing and new organisations supporting farmer-led innovation and research initiatives
  5. Develop relationships with research institutions motivating scientists, farmers and advisors to engage at scale in these initiatives
  6. Develop projects/programmes together, as appropriate, to maximise the impact of the network
  7. Explore interest and potential for international collaboration.

Over 20 organisations involved in farmer-led innovation and research initiatives in England, Scotland and Wales are part of the network, including governmental and non-governmental organisations, research institutes, the levy board, farmer organisations and advisory services. Around 2 million GBP of pilot funding from public, third-sector and industry has been invested to date, and some initiatives also leverage in-kind contributions, e.g. from scientists or input providers. It is estimated that the in-kind investment by farmers at least matches the level of cash funding.

Organisational structure

Network membership is open to any organisation involved in farmer-led research and innovation in the UK. New members can be proposed by any existing FLIN member. FLIN members will meet at least twice a year, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss FLIN activities. Activities to be carried out by FLIN are managed by a Steering Committee appointed for two years, which consists of:

  • Alistair Prior, Scottish Rural Network Support Unit (government organisation)
  • (Ms) Beth Dooley, Exeter University
  • (Ms) Julie Ingram, Countryside & Community Research Institute - Chairperson
  • (Ms) Kate Pressland, Centre for Effective Innovation in Agriculture
  • Steve Dunkley, Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (levy board funded by farmers and others in the supply chain)
  • Tom MacMillan, Royal Agricultural University

Ex-officio member: (Ms) Lisa Williams van Dijk, CP coordinator

This group now also functions as the Prolinnova CP National Steering Committee (NSC). The secretariat of the network and hence the CP is based at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.   
 



VIDEOS
 

How farmer-led research works: Click here for the video 

The network "Innovative Farmers" matches farmers with researchers so they can co-design practical but robust on-farm trials. This video explains how the network works and how farmers set up their own farmer-led research.


Hops farmers use farmer-led research to change the industry:  Click here for the video 

With the support of the network "Innovative Farmers", hops growers have joined with researchers to try something that hadn't been done before: planting cover crops across their hops yards. This film shows how ideas can be turned into practical reality by using the Farmer-Led Research model.


Farmer-designed trials with  sensors to reduce crop loss: Click here for the video

Sensors have been developed by industry to give tomato growers insights into how their plants respond to the growing environment. This information can be used to adapt glasshouse conditions so as to reduce plant stress and crop losses. This field lab explores how these sensors can be used in a commercial environment with farmers designing the research.