Project Highlights 2018

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The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) is one of Coventry University’s flagship research centres. Located at Ryton Organic Gardens, CAWR is the largest centre in the world doing transdisciplinary research on the links between agroecology and sustainable food, water and community resilience. Our diverse group of researchers work on over 50 projects across more than 45 countries. You can find out more about the centre by visiting our website: www.coventry.ac.uk/cawr

Pathways to phase-out contentious inputs from organic agriculture in Europe Organic-PLUS (O+) is a Horizon 2020 project led by Coventry University, involving 25 partners in 9 EU and 3 non-EU countries. Researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines are collaborating with advisors, farmers and other stakeholders to evaluate contentious inputs (currently permitted in certified organic agriculture) and their potential alternatives. The project comprises 3 topical work packages: PLANT, researching replacements for copper and mineral oils, LIVESTOCK investigating alternatives to synthetic vitamins, antibiotics and non-organic bedding materials and SOIL tackles peat, animalderived fertilisers and non-biodegradable plastic mulch.

To maximise this practical work, Organic-PLUS will also be researching consumer perceptions of contentious inputs and using sustainability assessments to deliver practical phase-out scenarios. The results of our research will be disseminated through both peer-reviewed and farmerfacing publications as well as on-farm events and international conferences. Organic-PLUS will provide high-quality, trans-disciplinary, scientifically informed decision support to help all actors in the organic sector, including national and regional policy makers. Get involved with our Livestock Survey: www.organic-plus.net/2018/11/14/livestock-survey This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 774340

www.organic-plus.net

What’s Happening with AgroecologyNow! It has been a busy year for our work in the international agroecology movement. We have produced publications, videos, blogs, an edited book and more. We have been working with social movements, funders, researchers, the FAO and other partners to co-produce and mobilise knowledge to advance societal transformations for agroecology. Much of this work can be viewed on our re-vamped website which is a platform for the research, action and communications projects convened by CAWR that focus on understanding and supporting the societal transformations necessary to enable agroecology as a model for sustainable and just food systems. This work is based on the commitment to co-producing and

mobilising knowledge, especially with social movements, citizens and food producers. Our work stresses the importance of People’s Knowledge in societal transformation and using participatory, transdisciplinary and action oriented approaches to research. www.agroecologynow.com www.peoplesknowledge.com


Transition paths to sustainable legume based systems in Europe (TRUE)

A Horizon 2020 project led by the James Hutton Institute in Scotland with 24 partners in 11 countries. TRUE has the overall aim to identify the best routes (or “transition paths”) to increase sustainable legume cultivation and consumption across Europe. CAWR is leading two case studies:

Heritage varieties for enhanced human and beneficial insect nutrition Field experiments are being conducted to compare heritage bean varieties with modern ones in terms of their nutrient content and utilisation of their pollen and nectar resources by beneficial insects. There is strong commercial interest in the increased use of these varieties because of possible health/flavour benefits and the ability to produce them locally, so stimulating the rural economy.

Field trial to compare Vicia faba varieties

Using legumes as a source of fertility in organic protected cropping systems Many intensive organic growers find it difficult to make use of rotations that include adequate fertility building crops and so rely on the import of nutrients in the form of animal manures or by-products such as blood and horn meal. In this case study we will investigate a range of innovative ways of using legumes – as fast growing green manures, as on-farm grown material to produce anaerobic digestate that could be used as a liquid feed or as a meal that could be incorporated in growing media.

Crimson clover grown as a green manure This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 727973

www.true-project.eu

Tripura Agroecology Partnership We have been working in Tripura, a NE Indian state, with farming communities who are testing the impact of introducing new crops into their rotations. These participatory experiments are specifically investigating the effect on nutrition, biodiversity, economy and ‘practicality’. Together with researchers, farmers selected new crops to include in their cropping. The aim of the experiment was to test 1) whether growing the crops contributed increased nutrition to the household of the farmer engaged in the trial 2) delivered increased biodiversity and environmental benefits in local farms. The trials were completed this year and farmers are now sharing the results of their experiments. The results will be available in 2019. The work is funded by the Agroecology Fund and the academic partners are: Coventry University CAWR, University of Calcutta and the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development. www.coventry.ac.uk/research/tripura

Developing research into Biodynamic Agriculture at CAWR With its recognition of the non-material world, biodynamic farming aligns with the beliefs and practices of many indigenous farming systems worldwide, and it also requires the use of additional research methods that recognise this dimension. Julia Wright and PhD student Janus Bojesen Jensen are collaborating with the Biodynamic Association to undertake a holistic assessment of case study biodynamic farms in the UK. They are also assessing the synergies between biodynamic farming and spiritual farming systems in India, and Julia is working with the European biodynamic network to develop an international research initiative. In addition, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Saskia von Diest is investigating the phenomena of intuitive farming and its application in biodynamic systems. www.coventry.ac.uk/research/quantum-thinking


Bridging the gap? Facilitation in the Civil Society Mechanism for Relations to the UN Committee on World Food Security Between September 2017 and September 2018, CAWR Research Fellow Josh Brem-Wilson conducted research analysing facilitation practices in the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) for relations to the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). The CFS defines itself as the ‘central United Nations political platform dealing with food security and nutrition’. Since 2009, the CFS has recognised the formal right of affected constituencies such as smallholder food producers and other rural and non-elite constituencies to participate in its work. In 2010 civil society created a Civil Society Mechanism, the purpose of which is to help affected constituencies participate in the CFS by autonomously facilitating their participation. Whilst this has led to the development of many sophisticated facilitation principles and practices, these had never been catalogued, nor had they been systematically assessed. Josh’s research sought to address that gap, by: • Cataloguing the different roles performed by three of the four main groups of CSM facilitators (its secretariat; coordinators and technical facilitators of CSM working groups; and members of the CSM’s Coordination Committee); • Identifying any emerging facilitation challenges, and; • Providing recommendations for consolidating and enhancing facilitation practices in the CSM. Research outcomes - disseminated via a practitioner report and accompanying presentation - were enthusiastically received by CSM facilitators, and discussions are now ongoing as to how they could best be integrated into future and ongoing CSM work. An academic paper drawing from data presented in the first phase of the project, and

To explore how reconnecting with local social and natural resources can strengthen farm and community resilience, to investigate barriers of social justice in rural communities and to assess the potential of visualisation methods to empower farmers and communities to encourage adaptive processes and to strengthen resourcefulness and collective action - these are the expected outcomes of some selected research areas dealing with rural communities within the RECOMS project. RECOMS - started in 2018 - is a Marie Sklodowska Curie (MSCA) Innovative Training Network funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020. It is comprised of a transdisciplinary consortium of scientists, practitioners

entitled ‘Legitimating global governance: publicisation, affectedness, and the Committee on World Food Security’ will soon be available in: Third World Thematics: A Third World Quarterly Journal. For more information please contact: Joshua.Brem-Wilson@coventry.ac.uk

Citizen science as an approach for developing organic horticultural practices A project funded by Coventry University in collaboration with Garden Organic This project has examined the findings from a long running citizen science programme - the Members’ Experiments scheme of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, now operating as Garden Organic. Every year between 1958 and the present day several experiments or surveys have been run to evaluate novel crops and varieties, the use of compost, green manures and other ways of building soil fertility, garden wildlife, and the overall sustainability of organic gardening practices. This project aimed to: • Review and celebrate the activities and achievements of the scheme. • Evaluate the role and impact of the programme for the organisation itself, the participants, for organic gardening practice and the wider organic movement. • Evaluate citizen science as an approach for generating and sharing knowledge. When complete the information will be available as an e-book with links to all of the resources and documents created as part of this project.

and change agents from eleven public, private and non-profit organisations located in six European Union countries. The aim of the project is to train fifteen Early Stage Researchers in transdisciplinary approaches to support resourceful and resilient community environmental practice as well as creative communication tools - on which we focus on in 2018 and 2019 by various training events for instance on photography, visual minuting or theatre performances. www.recoms.eu


What is CAWR doing about farm and producer-focused legal, political and environmental challenges?

Exploring the impact of Brexit for Protected Food Names in the UK

Researching farmer perspectives on the impact of an increase in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in Wales

Since the inception of EU Protected Food Name Schemes (PFNs) in the early 1990s, producer groups and food and drink sector stakeholders have organised and collectively worked to acquire one of three ‘quality’ marks that legally recognises and protects their food and drink products from imitation. This protection is awarded by way of a product’s quality attributes, links to a specific region or place, and/or traditional, artisanal production methods. However, there is uncertainty surrounding the governance and regulation of both existing and prospective PFNs once the process of exiting the EU is completed. It is at this juncture where our research is situated.

Nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs) are areas of land draining into receiving waters that are currently high in nitrates and are subject to regulation under the Nitrates Directive (91/676/ EEC). In 2018 Welsh Government decided to increase the area of land covered by NVZ status from 2.4% to 8%. This research aims to assess the impact of this policy change on farmers through environmental, technical and economic perspectives. It involved the development of bilingual farmer questionnaires and on farm impact assessments in different parts of Wales to predict the possible effects of the proposed legislation. A key result was to produce a report detailing farmer views on policy impact which may have significant This research aims to explore the outcomes for Welsh policy making potential impacts and opportunities and the interaction of the WG with associated with Brexit for UK PFNs, Welsh farmers. The report, and and to create policy recommendations subsequent conversations with WG, at the UK member state and national will hopefully influence thinking and devolved scale for the future decision making at the highest levels governance of PFNs. and be a powerful demonstration of the critical role participatory Team Members; Luke Owen, approaches to policy development Alex Franklin, Moya Kneafsey can play. and Donna Udall. Further information here; www.coventry.ac.uk/research/pfnin-the-uk

Further information here; www.coventry.ac.uk/research/nvzin-wales

Contact us For enquiries regarding the Centre, our work or courses please contact: Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience Coventry University Ryton Gardens, Wolston Lane Ryton-on-Dunsmore Coventry CV8 3LG United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 24 77 651 679 Email: cawroffice@coventry.ac.uk Website: www.coventry.ac.uk/cawr Facebook: CovUniCAWR Twitter: @CoventryCAWR

Investigating whether using biochar as cattle feed will reduce on farm emissions of ammonia Ammonia emissions are on the rise in the UK with negative consequences for both health and the environment. Agriculture can be a major contributor to this problem. In a fab farmer collaboration CAWR is working with the Soil Association and several UK farmers, to understand the effect of feeding biochar (or charcoal) to beef cows on ammonia emissions from manure. One of the aims of this research is to discover whether or not biochar can reduce ammonia release, minimising air pollution, but also, critically, retaining this nitrogencontaining compound in the manure where it may act as an improved fertiliser. For more information contact; Donna.udall@coventry.ac.uk