Garden Tiger Moth photographed by Gabor Pozsgai ©This site is no longer being updated.

We have retained it as a reference for future research.

Further information

The power of film to demonstrate innovation and learnings on farm

Patrick Harvey and Susie Emmett, GreenShoots

LEAF’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Simon Bull talks about the importance of farm demonstration to help drive forward knowledge generation and exchange within the farming industry, in particular demonstration harnessing the power of film.

It has long been established that farmers enthusiastically engage with knowledge transfer through demonstration activities, in particular farmer to farmer demonstration events and this engagement between farmers can help the up-take of new farming technologies or practices. Demonstration activities also contribute to network building in agricultural communities, leading to longer term sustainability and economic development in rural areas.

Through PLAID, LEAF alongside the James Hutton Institute, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and the National Agricultural Advisory Service are trialling a Virtual Demonstration Platform as a way to demonstrate innovative on-farm practises online. The aim for this platform is to further facilitate farmer to farmer learning through demonstration whilst removing   the geographical barriers associated with traditional on-farm demonstration events.

A number of commercial farms in England, Scotland, Bulgaria and Switzerland are taking part in the Virtual Demonstration Platform and as part of their activities within the network have been given video training over the last few months to provide them with the skills and confidence needed to independently produce video content on  farm.

Over two days in February, LEAF hosted video training for 4 English virtual Demonstration Farmers at the Madingley Hall, Cambridge.  This training taught them how to produce videos and other online content to promote and demonstrate the innovations and new technologies being used on farm to the wider farming industry, with particular focus to other farmers across Europe and beyond.

The training began by  introducing the  power of film highlighting the amazing opportunities film can provide to tell your story to a vast number of people across the globe in an engaging and informative way, and show why it  has become the most popular form of online communication.

The breadth of equipment and kit that can be used to capture and enhance footage  was introduced, showing the best that money can buy but  highlighting that all equipment needed to produce a great video can be found using your smart phone. It’s all about knowing how best to use what you have available!

Farmers were then equipped with some equipment essentials to take home with them from a lapel microphone for the perfect sound to a smart phone tripod for the perfect video pan and phone holder to enable a steadier shot. 

As well as using our smart phones, the group was also able to test other camera types such as action cameras and time lapse cameras, illustrating the footage we can get whilst on the move, or in our case driving up around the Madingley Hall Site.

This led in perfectly to our first activity which meant pairing up to shoot our very first footage on the course. Handy advice on the composition we should be looking for and the 'rule of thirds' for leading the viewer's eye around the shot came in very useful and the first efforts showed some great promise, imagination and artistic flare within the group.

Next, we looked at how important it is to storyboard videos before filming to help us tell our story with maximum impact. When filming it’s key to know who your audience is, what your three take home messages are and what is it visually what you want to film.

Our final activity of the day was getting to grips with editing using ShotCut Pro and iMovie. Within 2 hours everyone was able to crop, slice, add photos and music to footage.

We then headed over to dinner and heard from speaker Anna Jones, producer on the extremely popular Sunday Evening show Countryfile who talked about her Nuffield Scholarship looking at the importance of farmers getting their stories out to the public and the importance in being heard within the media. Our Virtual Demonstration Platform hopes to get the great and innovative approaches happening on farm out there to farmers and others alike.

The big test on day two began with each farmer storyboarding a video in pairs on a particular area of Integrated Farm Management they find important on their farms. They then went out and shot the footage they needed around Madingley hall and edited this to produce their first video. All in 3 hours! It was then movie time where everyone presented their videos to the group. One of videos produced by the brilliant Johnny Renner and Ralph Grindling can be seen below, where they highlight the importance of water management on their farm.

<<Embed video >>

All 4 farmers did fantastically well with one farmer noting “It was the shot of inspiration needed to explore and use film. We have always loved communicating about what we do on farm and now feel empowered to do so via videos as well as visits!”.  Another said they “Thoroughly enjoyed the training and I can’t wait to use the skills learnt on-farm to produce our first videos for the platform”

We are very much looking forward to them producing their first videos for the Virtual Demonstration Platform throughout April and May. Watch this space!

For more information on the Virtual Demonstration Platform please visit the PLAID website.

Or get in touch with Laura Tippin