The 2nd SIP Science Meeting took place in Bangor, Wales on 13th & 14th April 2016. The meeting was an opportunity for members of the SIP consortium to share ideas and outputs from the research. Themes included a local farmer’s use of technology for SI and profitability, trends in food demand, decision-making and support tools when working with farmers, and resilience to climate change. The wide range of topics underlined both the complexity of the project and the opportunity to explore SIP as a concept responsive to evolving developments within agriculture and management of the environment.
Seventy delegates attended the meeting, including those working directly on SIP, policy makers, other land-based organisations, Welsh government and Defra representatives, and guests from Brazil researching agriculture initiatives in the UK.
Presentations included the progress of the new dynamic typology tool for landscape-scale decision support, providing a useful addition to software supporting farm-scale decision. Other presentations included current trends in livestock farming and the changing nature of food demand, quantifying SI efficiency and productivity measures, and the definitions of SI at different scales.
Breakout sessions topics ranged from the implications for SI in extreme weather events to understanding hard-to-reach farms and the implications of SI and farm economics at the landscape scale.
Other highlights included the ‘Farmers Panel’, featuring a small-scale dairy and arable LEAF demonstration farmer Robert Kynaston; Welsh sheep and beef farmer, Harri Parri; and Gethin Davies, representing Farming Connect, the Welsh farm and forestry advisory service.
The packed first day included a tour of Henfaes Study Farm, one of the study areas within SIP. Research at the farm includes agroforestry initiatives mixing tree planting, grassland and sheep grazing; ‘naked’ wheat; and soil monitoring to measure greenhouse emissions.
In the evening, the conference dinner included our special guest, Alun Edwards, sheep farmer and presenter of the Welsh farming and countryside TV programme Ffermio. Alun gave an engaging picture of his life as a Welsh sheep farmer, the values he grew up with, and the challenges facing many farmers in Wales today.
Michael Winter, Principal Investigator for SIP 2 said, ‘Great event, great science and a beautiful day in Bangor’.
Photo by Laurence Couldrick, Westcountry Rivers Trust