Opportunities to drive improvements across entire farm operations will come under the spotlight during the UK’s largest organic on-farm event next month.
The National Organic Combinable Crops (NOCC) conference will bring organic and non-organic growers together to hear the benefits organic systems bring to farm business and the farmed environment.
Held by OF&G at Green Acres Farm in Shifnal near Telford, Shropshire, on Tuesday 3 July, NOCC 2018 will feature experts from across production and supply networks.
Speakers will include NIAB head of farm research Liz Stockdale, who will discuss the organisation’s £1m, five-year project to improve understanding of soil health biology and management, and independent plant and soil educator Joel Williams.
Lawrence Morden of seed merchant Walnes, also joins the line-up and will discuss the company’s project with farmer collective Organic Arable to develop plant varieties which thrive in low-input regimes as with organic systems.
This year the renowned NOCC lunch will be provided by Kimberley Bell of the award-winning Small Food Bakery.
Kimberley and her team, who won Best Food Producer at this month’s BBC Food and Farming Awards, will include many of the key crops grown on the farm in their menu to demonstrate the bakery’s approach to reconnecting food with the farmers who produce it.
The day will be rounded-off with a farm walk, looking in detail at NOCC host Mark Lea’s business, which includes a green waste composting operation. Visitors will look in detail at all of the crops being trialed on the farm, including wheat varieties Evolution and Spyder, and KWS Basset, Crispin, Montana and Siskin, and will also get to see the results of special pea trials.
“We’re always interested in trying different things on the farm, and hosting NOCC has given us even more motivation to experiment with what we trial here,” Mark says.
“Being organic has opened up a huge number of opportunities for us, not just in terms of what we grow and our production cycles, but also in how we manage the land to ensure that it is in the best possible state to produce food.”
OF&G chief executive Roger Kerr says that NOCC – which is now in its 11th year – has long been the highlight of the organic farming calendar.
But with so much uncertainty on the horizon, all farmers could benefit from learning more about the developments and opportunities offered.
“Profitable and successful farm businesses need to be resilient in terms of economics, agronomy, and the environment,” he says. “Organic farming simultaneously offers all of these and in the face of major challenges, farmers need to build greater resilience into their businesses.”