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Martin Wolfe's Pursuit of Diversity in Farming

It's wonderful to see Professor Martin Wolfe's pioneering work on agroforestry reported in the The Guardian & reaching a wider audience. Martin is a long-time friend and mentor to Hodmedod, and grows naked barley, lentils, wheat and more for us. His whole farm system approach and drive for diversity at every level are an inspiration to us.

Martin Wolfe harvesting a trial plot of YQ Population Wheat in one of the crop aisles at Wakelyns Agroforestry, Summer 2017
Martin Wolfe harvesting a trial plot of YQ Population Wheat in one of the crop aisles at Wakelyns Agroforestry, Summer 2017

Martin Wolfe's truly radical approach to farming is demonstrated by his practice and research at Wakelyns Agroforestry in Suffolk.

Following a career at the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, and later as Professor of Plant Pathology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Martin established Wakelyns.

At Wakelyns Martin works on a wide variety of research projects and trials, exploring the benefits of diversity at every level of farming, from soil microbia, through crop varieties and populations, to the species of flora and fauna across the farm. Field trials are rotated within six organic agroforestry systems, developed to optimise functional biodiversity.

A long-term project on crop population breeding as an alternative to the mainstream cultivation of single pure line varieties has resulted in the YQ wheat population, in which extraordinary genetic diversity derived from both modern and old wheat varieties has resulted in a resilient population that delivers both quality and good yields (hence "YQ"). The wheat is milled at Wakelyns to produce stoneground YQ Population Wheatflour.

Martin also carries out essential early trials for us at Hodmedod on new and neglected crops including naked barley and lentils.

Read more about about Martin's work to pioneer agroforestry in British farming in Bibi van der Zee's excellent article in the Guardian, The latest cutting-edge technology changing our landscapes? Trees.




Nick Saltmarsh
Nick Saltmarsh

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