How the Gardeners of England Have Supported Regenerative Agriculture

Modern farming is undergoing one of the most significant changes in history with the shift to regenerative farming. This method, which incorporates intelligent crop rotations, companion planting, and mindful cultivation practices, significantly reduces the use of chemical inputs. Central to this change is the recognition that soil is an asset, not a commodity and that soil biology plays a vital role in transferring nutrients to crops. Regenerative farming rebalances the excessive use of chemicals in agriculture, increasing nutrient use efficiency in soils and ensuring more applied nutrients ultimately reach the crops.

This transformation in farming practices is driven by a deeper understanding of our soil's condition, its capacity to sustain current outputs under existing fertigation regimes, the desire to increase soil carbon and the growing public sensitivity to chemical overuse in the food chain. Support comes from both the government, which offers subsidies to help soils recover from misuse, and from end users like Waitrose, who have pledged that its meat, milk, eggs, fruit, and vegetables should be sourced from regenerative farming by 2035.

Technology support Regenerative farming - How the Gardeners of England Have Supported Regenerative AgricultureTwo key groups of beneficial soil microbes improve soil nutrient use efficiency: mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria. These microbes convert nutrients into plant-available forms and perform other essential functions. Good farming practices can boost the microbial levels in the soil, and they can also be introduced into the farming process. Once applied, these microbes grow and replicate, seeking out specific nutrients excreted by plant roots and building communities.

PlantWorks is the UK's leading producer of beneficial soil microbes, manufactured at its facilities at the Kent Science Park. Originally a spin-out company, PlantWorks is now one of Europe’s largest producers of mycorrhizal fungi. It has developed a range of beneficial bacteria in collaboration with experts, which have been widely trialled in the UK to support regenerative farming. Unusually, PlantWorks has funded much of its farming research through reinvestment from the sales of its mycorrhizal fungi and bio-fertilisers to the gardening market in the UK and beyond under its Empathy retail brand. These products, recognised by gardeners as the most ecologically sensitive in the market, are designed to offer benefits to treated plants throughout their lifetime, improving nutrient and water flow, health, flowering, and fruiting.

Sold across the UK in over 2000 outlets, a significant proportion of income from this work has funded PlantWorks' science team in their research and development of products supporting regenerative farming. This initiative, which began in 2014, has now underwritten the development of products for most cereal and vegetable crops grown in the UK and has seen trials conducted across the main farming areas of the country. In 2023, PlantWorks signed a collaboration with Clayton, a well-established brand in the farming sector, to further invest in and promote its products under the NUE brand.

PlantWorks continues its mission in the hobby gardening sector. Empathy products are ecologically designed, pioneering the use of beneficial microbes in gardening, agriculture, and horticulture, strengthening soil biology, and reducing chemical reliance.

Contact details:

Courtney Gray, Marketing Manager

01795 411527 • •

Ecological by design

Empathy products are ecological by design. 

Pioneering the use of beneficial microbes in agriculture, horticulture, and gardening, strengthening soil biology, and reducing chemical reliance.