Blog Posts


The Toolbox of Multi-species Swards project, otherwise known as TOMS, is a collaborative project between the Rural Business School at Duchy College and Rothamsted Research North Wyke.
There is an increasing interest in the use of multi-species swards/herbal leys/diverse forages, although there is currently only limited advice available on their establishment and management. A significant proportion of Cornwall’s utilisable agricultural area is grassland, either permanent pasture or temporary leys, dominated largely by a limited range of ryegrass and clover varieties. There is now increasing recognition of the potential to exploit the functional contrasts between species that enable them to co-exist within the same ecological niche, and to deliver a much broader range of benefits, including multiple ecosystem services.

Whilst considerable research both nationally and internationally has previously gone into exploring the benefits associated with multi-species swards, this information is disparate, hard to access for farmers and advisers and not tailored to the soil and management conditions prevalent in Cornwall.

The Project aims to:
• Determine forage quality across a range of soil types in Cornwall with respect to the micronutrients Copper, Iodine, Cobalt and Selenium.
• Determine forage species presence and abundance across a range of soil types in Cornwall.
• Measure the relative reduction in leaching achievable with a diverse sward, compared to a control ryegrass/clover mixture.
• Quantify the impact of species composition, sowing rate and seedbed preparation on forage quality and quantity.
• Define and analyse silage made from multi-species swards, including investigating optimum mixtures and conditions.
• Quantify pollinator abundance in diverse swards compared to a control ryegrass/clover mixture during the statutory 5 week shut off period, a requirement for some stewardship options.
• Understand the major hurdles for farmers in the adoption of herbal leys.
• Develop a web-based decision making tool to assist with the establishment and management of multi-species swards.

For further information, email Gemma Eales

Read Blog Detail

Future Farm

‘Future Farm’ to redefine dairy research and learning

A £3m dairy research centre will open at Duchy College in autumn 2020, driving improvements in efficiency, technology, animal health and welfare, and environmental best practice.

The two-acre facility will include a host of features, including an ability to split the College’s commercial Holstein Friesians into three mini herds, allowing measuring and comparison of different management techniques.

There will be a computerised, precision-control feeding system, plus an ability to separate slurry and manure from the different groups of animals, allowing multiple research projects to be run simultaneously – including ones exploring the storage, spreading and treatment of slurry and manure.

Sited on land the College rents from Prince Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall estate, the centre will see researchers collaborate with scientists from other world-leading centres, while also acting as a learning platform for Duchy students and a demonstration farm.

Read Blog Detail
The Farm Crap App Pro

The Farm Crap App Pro

The Farm Crap App Pro is a collaborative project between Duchy College and Rothamsted Research North Wyke to develop an easy to use, accurate and reliable way to manage and record slurry spreading information and data on manure.

Working with waste companies, contractors, equipment manufacturers and consultants the project will allow for the development not just of an app which allows farmers to complete whole field nutrient management plans using the latest data from RB209 but will also allow a simple way for farmers to share information with their advisors.

The project will also look at the use of decision support tools by the farming community and how engaging with technology brings opportunities for business efficiency and growth.

The finished app will include the ability to comply with Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations, as well as the new Farming for Water rules alongside the ability to truly integrate manure and slurry applications with bagged fertiliser to allow for environmental protection and economic benefits.

Working with waste companies, contractors, equipment manufacturers and consultants the project will allow for the development not just of an app which allows farmers to complete whole field nutrient management plans using the latest data from RB209 but will also allow a simple way for farmers to share information with their advisors.

The app is being developed in collaboration with FoAM Kernow.

You can download the app here:



For more information about the project please contact Becky Willson on 01579 372376 or

Read Blog Detail
Passive Cooling project

Precision Dairy Cow Welfare and production management

This project seeks to utilise new technologies to stimulate farmer knowledge development.

(WP1) Precision Management of Dairy Cows Bolus Project

Rumen temperature data will be linked with cow health and welfare, reproductive management and milk production data. Joining up the datasets should enable more timely and more precise management interventions.

The Bella Ag system will be used across four dairy herds demonstrating different systems of production; other parameters will be recorded including temperature, wind, precipitation and relative humidity. The project also aims to confirm the on-farm practicality of the system. Smart data processing expertise will be used to review data collect systems and make recommendations on further processing to produce valuable metrics.

Precision management is a key goal for farming in order to maximise efficiency. Intensive dairy farms lend themselves to the collection of precision data, but there has been less take-up of this technology on grassland dairy farms. Furthermore, the effect of greater environmental variation on grassland farms likely means that precision data will reveal somewhat different relationships with other animal or environmental variables.

For further information, please contact Rachel Abrahall at; / 07877035795

(WP2) Passive Cooling in Cow Sheds

A project based at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall is scoping out innovative, low-cost technologies and products to aid heat removal from livestock buildings.

Experts are monitoring heat stress in dairy cows, in tandem with developing thin graphite oxide panels which have powerful heat-absorption properties and can be hung from building roofs or used as ‘wallpaper’.

The improved temperature control achieved through such ‘passive cooling’ could raise milk yields and improve animal health and welfare.

The captured heat could also be re-used on farms for such purposes as heating water or electricity generation.

To find out more please email Alex Huke at / 01326 255844.


Read Blog Detail

Circular and Low Impact Processed Food (CLIP)

Circular and Low Impact Processed Food (CLIP) is a project funded by ERDF through the Agritech
Cornwall programme led by The Cornwall College Group/Duchy College.

Food production is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and yet the carbon footprint of most processed food products is poorly understood. Our aim is to develop a carbon impact assessment tool for processed foods, using the Cornish Pasty as a pilot. We want to work with you to develop a freely available tool that can help the industry better understand and ultimately improve the environmental performance of your products.

Working with us can provide these benefits for your company:
• demonstrate your commitment towards sustainability and add value to your products
• benchmark your product against the industry’s average and other types of processed food
• identify opportunities for cost-effective carbon reduction
• investigate new products and inform strategic decisions
• reduce risk of exposure to climate related regulations and consumer actions

The tool adopts a life cycle assessment (LCA) based approach to examine the entire food supply chain and quantify consumption of resources such as energy and water and generation of environmental impacts such as carbon emission.

Results from a preliminary LCA on a generic pasty show that its carbon footprint can vary significantly depending on a wide range of factors such as recipes, sourcing of ingredients, manufacturing practices and storage and distribution activities.

Your inputs are crucial for us to make the tool more representative and useful for the industry. So we would love to work with you on this exciting and important project.

If you are interested, please do get in touch with us:

(Image attribution: David Johnson [1] / CC BY-SA (


Read Blog Detail
FIND project


A project studying photosynthesis-related activity and fluorescence in a bid to develop an ‘early warning system’ for plant disease.

Using smart imaging techniques, scientists at the University of Plymouth are hoping the Fluorescence Imaging for Nutrition and Disease (FIND) initiative will make it easier to spot yield-sapping fungal and bacterial pathogens earlier that has traditionally been the case.

Having such a head-start compared with existing diagnostic techniques means growers could identify diseased plants, then potentially remove or treat them before more plants are infected.

Such developments could raise crop yields and lower fungicide use, contributing to the drive for efficient, sustainable food production.

To find out more, please email Yve at or call on 01752 588341


Read Blog Detail


The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted both the fragility and adaptability of Cornwall’s food supply chains. The disparities between food production and food waste became apparent during the crisis, especially as the Cornwall food and drink sector is heavily reliant on the tourism, hospitality and leisure industries which were suddenly cut off during lockdown.  Increasing supply to different sectors would diversify this reliance and could potentially improve the flow and distribution of local food and drink networks.

Researchers at the University of Exeter joined forces with the Rural Group of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (CIoS LEP) to undertake a 12-week Agri-tech Cornwall project.  The aims were: 1) investigate the potential for more local produce to be used by care homes and schools in Cornwall, and 2) help the CIoS LEP better understand how they can respond to and support the needs of the Cornish food and drink sector, including farm shops and Cornish fishers.

The findings of this project give us the opportunity to work towards greater unity in bringing together producers, distributors and consumers to increase efficiency and resilience of one of Cornwall’s greatest assets: its food and drink industry.

“This study has helped us to understand the above in great detail and will signpost many initiatives to build a stronger sector while also informing an ask of Government to put in place local powers that can best support growth.”  Mark Duddridge, Chair CIoS LEP.

For more information contact: Devi Whittle, Impact and Partnership Development Officer at Exeter University,

To view the final report on the COVID-19 Cornwall Food and Drink project, please click here.

View the survey results here.

Read Blog Detail
edible insects

Edible Insects

The agricultural sector is facing critical challenges and we need innovative ways to increase food and animal feed production. Edible insects will help us achieve this. While interest in edible insects is growing, we lack the expertise in mass-rearing methods to realise the potential for edible insects to generate substantial revenue.

University of Exeter researchers are engaging with Granite Rock Brewery and Tira Ecological Solutions to develop innovative and sustainable ways to recycle organic waste products, reduce food waste and produce biofertilisers as well as food for both human and animal consumption.

This circular economy network combined with our research expertise in insect nutritional geometry will have the potential to generate a whole new industry of novel food and feed within Cornwall.

Read Blog Detail
Drone in field

Perception Drones

A particularly interesting Innovation Grant Applicant is Mark Polson, Director of Perception Drones, based near Falmouth. Mark had his ‘Agri-tech epiphany’ whilst in discussion with an agronomist. Together they identified a satellite technology that could be made applicable on a field scale.

Using high definition sensors and specialist drone platforms, a field can be surveyed and, using precision mapping, relevant data is recorded at various stages for plant health, nutrient management and monitoring which will be referenced against growth and health indices. This technology will enable farmers and producers to have a much more in-depth picture of what is happening in a particular field or area that an agronomist might not be able to readily identify on a farm walk, increasing resource efficiency and reducing production costs. A drone can see from 40 metres above the field what an agronomist might struggle to observe from walking the field at 1.8 metres.

Mark had a prestigious career in the Royal Air Force, and several years in the marine and civil engineering sectors prior to establishing Perception Drones. Mark has a wealth of experience in avionics and electronics, and is custom building the drone platform for his Agri-tech project, to be able to get the appropriate and more importantly, relevant data and information back to the agronomist for analysing: “The agriculture industry in Cornwall is three times that of the UK average, meaning the market here is larger, and has a lot to gain in terms of improved crop management and therefore competitive advantage. This project aims not only to gather data efficiently and in greater detail than currently available, but translate it into a format that is easy to understand and action for the farmer in the field,” says Mark.

Read Blog Detail
Cows eating silage

SC Nutrition

Truro based SC Nutrition Ltd provides cattle nutrition and feed advice to a cohort of Dairy and Beef farms. Steve Chapman has over 25 years’ experience in the nutrition industry, and at a recent nutrition conference in the USA one of the emergent key issues was maximising the cow’s ability to benefit from Acidified Detergent Fibre Protein (ADICP) in forage.

Steve has observed a big difference in the quality of silage being produced across Cornwall, and this is partly attributable to a variance in silage making practices, such as being left too long in the field or from the presence of air pockets in the silage clamp. Steve has liaised with a laboratory in the USA that has developed techniques in silage testing. Steve has identified one that is specifically useful to this side of the Atlantic, and this is the first time this will be used in the United Kingdom.

Funded in part through the Agri-tech Cornwall Innovation Grant Scheme, SC Nutrition Ltd., are carrying out a pilot project with 15 Cornish farmers using innovative technology which does not require a laboratory, but can be used in the field. The aim of the pilot is to analyse the levels of ADICP protein in grass silage and establish whether management practices have affected the availability of the forage protein.

Recordings of the silage will be taken just after cutting, again as the silage enters the clamp, and again 8 weeks after ensiling.

Read Blog Detail