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Knowledge is power - let's share it for a better farming future

Written by: Alison Rickett, NFFN Sustainable Lead for England

We never stop learning if we keep our minds open to new information. This I have experienced time and again as a student, work colleague, trainer, facilitator, and most recently, I have had the privilege of working with so many knowledgeable nature-friendly farmers through NFFN. Their passion for their farms and the role nature plays in it as a major stakeholder and the sharing of their experiences with others to continually challenge and learn more is infectious.

The need to pass on knowledge and skills to and between farmers is key, but the world around us is changing rapidly, not only for the farming business itself, but across the wider arena. There is the need to act for climate change and reach Net or even Sub-Zero, while achieving sustainable and profitable farm businesses. The principal common factor is farming with nature can provide many of the answers.

This is a big ask and a juggling act as we all continually reevaluate our businesses. We try to make sense of new information from within and outside the industry, via the farming press, social media, peer-to-peer and reviews of the latest Government associated papers and new schemes, such as SFI and ELMS. It is keeping all of us on high alert and anxious not to miss the next piece of vital information. 

If many of us feel like this working within the industry, how does it make those feel at the early part of their career or those looking for sound information to change their businesses working more with nature? On a positive point, we now have an incredible opportunity to set a more complete overview of what farming could and should look like in the future and play our part in quenching this new thirst for knowledge. It is up to us to help deliver this whilst we can.

One way of helping is to share this mass of collective knowledge between farmers, but we must also look to helping those who are turning to a variety of routes such as land-based colleges and universities, traineeships, work placements, farming conferences and short courses. It always takes time to rewrite training materials and get them accredited, but time is not on our side. We need to be able to act quickly and this will show itself in a variety of ways.

NFFN plans to play a major role in this knowledge transfer by sharing the latest research, channelling new ways of working by facilitating farmers sharing with other farmers, policymakers and training providers, so there is a space for sharing the things that have worked, challenges faced and lessons learnt. We have to help speed up this process and to support this, NFFN is in talks with colleges, universities and other training establishments to potentially support this knowledge transfer to all. The next generation and those with farming businesses need good, sound information readily available and within a supportive environment.

Farming is changing, the voice and role of nature is showing its true potential and we actively encourage NFFN members to play a key role within this knowledge transfer work.