Ecological principles and system-based decision making in agriculture

Past Event - booking closed

Thursday, 25 January 2024

1:30pm - 4:30pm

Pavilions of Harrogate, Harrogate, North Yorkshire


Join us, in partnership with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and The Farmer Scientist Network, as we tap into the expertise and experience of our speakers to find the answers that you need to take your business forward.

We understand the vital role that farmers play in supporting the environment and ensuring the well-being of our communities. The agriculture landscape is evolving, and it is time to explore sustainable practices that not only preserve but enhance our precious resources. This panel discussion will explore innovative approaches to farming that align with agroecology principles and system-based decision making.

This meeting will cover

Ecological principles in agriculture: Explore the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the impact of ecological principles on crop resilience and resource conservation.
System-based decision making: Understand how shifting to a system-based approach transforms decision-making processes on the farm, leading to more resilient and adaptive strategies.
Changing information requirements: Learn about the evolving information needs in the context of reformative farming and how technology can support informed decision making.
Success stories and lessons learned: Hear from experienced farmers who have successfully implemented ecological practices and embraced system-based decision making.

RoSA CPD points will be available for attending this event.

About the speakers

Jason Rowntree

Jason Rowntree is the director of Michigan State University’s Centre for Regenerative Agriculture. He has been responsible for the system change that has taken place there, using holistic and regenerative management principles to improve soil properties, forage production and ecological function while employing an 18–20-month finishing model.

Jason’s research focus is identifying the metrics and management that reflect ecological improvement in grazing land systems. He has also worked with the Savory Institute to co-develop an Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) that is now being used on over 2m acres of grasslands on every continent except Antarctica. Furthermore, he is also the project director of a new $19.2m-funded project entitled, 'Metrics, Management, and Monitoring: An Investigation of Pasture and Rangeland Soil Health and its Drivers'.

His work in beef sustainability has been featured in the movie 'Sacred Cow', The Washington Post, New York Times, Forbes and many other popular media publications.

Stuart Johnson

Stuart Johnson runs a family tenanted farming business with his parents and brother. They currently manage 540 acres AHA mixed farmland under long term regenerative management; 280 acres FBT permanent pasture, where they are introducing regenerative practices; and 220 acres annual let land conventionally managed.

They view their business as a livestock-based business that has the capacity to grow home used arable and cover crops.

The family tenated farming business focuses on regenerative practices at their home farm in West Wharmley. Initially it was purely for financial reasons, there was not much thought for social or environmental benefits at the time. They wanted to make sure as a business they are as resilient as possible going forward, reducing their exposure and reliance on external parties or inputs.

They have now reduced nearly all variable costs without over sacrificing yields. They believe they are more resilient to price changes and weather extremes and, in an industry that has seen hugely aggressive swings of late they are hoping this can only be positive.

Ruth Wade

Ruth Wade is an ecologist at heart, with a passion to use knowledge and ideas from ecological systems in agricultural systems, working towards sustainable farming whilst maintaining a resilient and productive farming system.

She is particularly interested in plant-soil interactions, plant defence strategies and multi-trophic interactions. She uses a combination of novel laboratory, small plot and field scale trials to investigate the impact of different land management decisions and changes in rainfall patterns on plant growth, plant chemical composition, soil structure and fertility as well as interacting organisms such as insects and their natural enemies.

Liz Genever

Dr Liz Genever, a mixed farmer in south-east Lincolnshire, is a beef and sheep consultant who specialises in grass and forage systems. She is one of the founders of Carbon Calling, which has the aim of building a community of farmers who support and learn from one another to make their farm and themselves healthier and happier. She worked at AHDB for 13 years as a technical specialist and established her own independent consultancy business in 2019.

Liz was part of OFC Emerging Leaders programme in 2020 and completed the WCF Challenge of Rural Leadership course in 2016. She just completed the holistic management training.

Her goals are to be the go-to-person for beef and sheep farmers interested in regenerative approaches, and to develop and deliver a holistic approach for her home farm. She has experience of managing research and knowledge exchange project over her career, which including AHDB’s Ram Compare and Challenge Sheep projects.

This panel discussion aims to provide you with valuable insights, practical knowledge, and a platform for open conversation. We look forward to your participation and to collectively exploring the possibilities that reformative farming and system-based decision-making hold for the future of agriculture.