Home Farm Natural Capital

Led by the RBS and Duchy of Cornwall Estate, Duchy College is creating a 25-year environmental plan to develop the natural capital asset in its Home Farm and associated landscape.

Subject to securing funding, the Home Farm plan will develop nearly 50 hectares of natural habitat (including woodland, orchard, scrub, wildflower meadows and wildlife corridors) whilst maintaining a sustainable farm business; plant thousands of trees; sequester hundreds of tonnes of carbon each year (through soil and vegetation); and protect 2 catchments (reduced flooding, better retention of water, and clean water).

Establishing, maintaining, and monitoring these natural capital interventions will become part of the curricula and extra curricula activities of College.

Status: Active

Farm Net Zero

Lottery logo

Farm Net Zero is an exciting new partnership between the Rural Business School, Farm Carbon Toolkit, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Soil Association, Innovative Farmers, Innovation for Agriculture and Just Farmers.

It is a £1.2million project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund for five years from January 2021. This new project builds on the work we have been doing through the Agri-Tech Cornwall Soil Carbon Project.

The UK government has set legislation to transition the country to net zero emissions by 2050, with the National Farmer’s Union setting the challenge of net zero emissions agriculture by 2040. Through Farm Net Zero, we will be monitoring 40 farms in East Cornwall with soil sampling and carbon footprinting undertaken each year. The aim is to encourage reductions in carbon emissions and share knowledge between farmers and the wider community.

For further information about the project, please email Alex Bebbington or Stephen Roderick.

Status: Active (2021)

The Soil Carbon Project

The Soil Carbon Project is an innovative project that aims to help Cornish farmers manage soils in a more sustainable and profitable way. Interest in soils has risen dramatically in recent years, with the prospect of farmers receiving payments for environmental goods and services becoming ever more likely. The Soil Carbon Project was a collaboration between Duchy College’s Rural Business School, Rothamsted Research North Wyke and the University of Plymouth with funding from Agri-tech Cornwall. It aimed to develop protocols for measuring and valuing soil health and carbon sequestration that are scientifically robust and practical.

While interest in the subject continues to increase, a great deal of uncertainty around measurement and management of soil health remains. This project worked to uncover what is happening beneath Cornish farms and develop practical solutions to valuing the hidden asset that puts Cornwall at the forefront of this emerging science.

The project had three main objectives:

  1. To understand the best methods for monitoring soil health (both in-field and in the lab)
  2. To assess the impact of management practice on soil health
  3. To investigate the impact of soil carbon on the whole-farm carbon footprint

The project involved a network of 85 farms, reflecting a range of soil types and enterprises, as well as a collaboration with Rothamsted Research North Wyke and the University of Plymouth. One of the primary aims was to work out a consistent set of metrics that can be used to identify and quantify changes in soil health and carbon levels, which could provide an evidence base to support future policy changes.

A Soil Carbon Field and Lab Guide has been produced to summarise the project’s main findings and offer some guidance on best practice to farmers and advisors.

To find out more please contact Stephen Roderick on 01209 722148, email s.roderick@cornwall.ac.uk or Alex Bebbington on 01579 372370.

Status: Active (2018-2021)

Agri-tech Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly

Agri-tech Cornwall is a £11.8m initiative to create a new sector for the Cornish economy, helping the United Kingdom become a world leader in agricultural technology, and sustainability..

We will support ambitious small and medium-sized Cornish companies develop innovations to improve efficiency, profitability and resilience in the agricultural sector – in field or moor, forest or shore.

Agricultural technologies can be any innovation that makes agriculture more efficient and productive, more resilient and secure, more profitable, and better able to enhance and protect the natural environment and those that farm it.

The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is open to all small to medium-sized Cornish businesses.

This is a unique opportunity to develop and apply new technologies assisted by project partners, research grants and graduate placements.

Status: Active (2016)

Farm Crap App Pro

The team behind the Farm Crap App have been busy working at incorporating all the feedback that we received from the industry.  We are proud to have launched the new Farm Crap App Pro which is available now for Apple and Android Devices.

What’s New?

There are lots of new features on the app which make it easier to use and get the financial and environmental benefits that come from efficiently using manures and slurry.

New features include:

  • the ability to map all the fields on your farm
  • individual crop nutrient recommendations from RB209, to allow you to complete field nutrient plans
  • the ability to take into account applications of compost, digestate and other products, including your own data from slurry or manure analysis
  • the ability to take into account the application method (dribble bar, trailing shoe, injection) and account for the increased nutrient availability that comes with these bits of kit
  • the ability to include applications of bagged fertiliser.

Where do I get it?

Best of all, the app is still free to use and download, and available on both Apple and Android devices. We have also developed a web version of the calculator, which is available here.

Click on the links below which will take you to the right place on the Google Play and Apple App store.

Farm Crap App pro for Android Devices (through the Google Play Store)

Farm Crap App pro for Apple Devices (through the Apple App store)

Status: Completed

2 Minute Farmer (2MF)

Helping farmers break big questions into bitesized chunks, this project makes complicated conundrums more manageable.

2MF assists farmers tackle the challenges of modern life and business by unpacking complex issues, using resources such as short films and supporting material.

It works on the theory that regularly taking just two minutes out of your busy daily schedule can allow you to identify and begin addressing sensitive issues such as succession planning.

Spearheaded by Duchy College’s Rural Business School and Stephens Scown solicitors, the practical assistance the project will give farmers helps make them more technically efficient and should alleviate some of the mental health issues currently seen in the rural community.

Status: Active (2018)

Toolbox of Multi-species Swards (TOMS)

This project aims to support and promote the use of multi-species swards, particularly in Cornwall. It is a collaborative project between the Rural Business School at Duchy College and Rothamsted Research North Wyke.

The majority of Cornwall’s farmed land is grassland, typically ryegrass and clover. But multi-species swards, also known as herbal leys or diverse forages, offer many potential benefits for grassland production. To find out more, visit the Diverse Forages page here.

There is growing interest in the use of multi-species swards, but limited information available on establishment, management and proven economic benefits. This particularly true in Cornwall, as a lot of research to date is not relevant to the environmental and economic conditions prevalent in the county.

The Toolbox of Multi-species Swards has three main areas of work:

  • A programme of field research on commercial farms in Cornwall
  • The development of a multi-media toolkit on establishment and management
  • A farmer survey of the perceived benefits and barriers to uptake

Field research commenced on eight farms in July 2018 and aims to:

  • Compare performance of a highly diverse species mixture (known as ‘TOMS’) against a perennial ryegrass and white clover sward and the farmer’s standard ley
  • Compare forage nutritional quality and micronutrient content of the different swards
  • Compare soil leaching resulting from the different swards, on a select number of farms
  • Undertake pollinator surveys during a 5 week ‘shut-off’ period on a select number of farms

In addition, work at Rothamsted is investigating the impact of species composition, sowing rate and seedbed preparation on forage quality and quantity. Rothamsted are also defining and analysing the silage made from multi-species swards, including work to determine optimum mixtures and conditions.

Farmers drilled experimental sward mixtures in autumn 2018, following soil surveys. The project team conducted the first species surveys and forage collection in spring 2019, prior to farm grazing and silage cuts. Work is also underway on the multi-media toolkit, with an academic literature review nearing completion and design for an app and all-weather reference guide in progress.

For further information, contact Gemma Eales: gemma.eales@duchy.ac.uk

Status: Active (2018)

SWARM Knowledge Hub

The SWARM Knowledge Hub is a web information service dedicated to south west farmers and growers.

The site helps to show that sustainable agriculture means more profit for the farming community.

It is largely divided into six key resource themes of soils, nutrients and manures, water, energy efficiency, renewable technologies and trees and wood.

    • Learn how you can reduce the costs of farm inputs
    • Increase profits by making better use of farm resources
    • Help decide what energy saving investments to make on your farm
    • Get unbiased reports on the latest resource management research
    • Learn how other farmers are tackling resource management on their farms
    • Get the latest news and information on funding and training

Information on a range of different topics is presented in a variety of ways including videos, decision making tools, factsheets and interactive features to allow the farming community to improve profitability and become more sustainable.

Status: Active (2015)