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Intelligent Soil Sampling
The complex nature of soil raises a number of questions that can influence decisions about the management of land, on both a national and local level. For example: Are the nation's soils losing carbon? Where do concentrations of lead exceed regulatory thresholds? Is the soil acidity in a particular field a limiting factor on crop yield? The problem is that the soil is so variable, even within a single field, that it is difficult to obtain this information efficiently.
The Environmetrics group at Rothamsted Research, led by Dr Murray Lark, have developed an intelligent computer program, with funding from a BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award with the Home-Grown Cereals Authority, which can tailor soil sampling to local conditions, allowing land managers to obtain high quality information, while avoiding costly over-sampling. This method has potential to improve the management of agricultural fields and for mapping soil pollution and monitoring the success of clean-up operations.
The answer is blowing in the wind
Spiders are important predators of insect pests that often "parachute" into new areas on single strands of silk. Elspeth Bartlet reports on a new, more realistic, model of this behaviour by scientists at Rothamsted Research, which explains, for the first time, how these aerial hitchhikers can be transported for tens of metres to hundreds of kilometres.
On a fine summer's day, a young spider climbs to the top of a blade of grass, arches its body and lets out a strand of silk. The breeze catches the silk and the spider is dragged into the air and out of sight. This behaviour is called ballooning and it's the main dispersal method for many spiders, moth larvae and mites, enabling them to colonise new habitats, or escape from trouble.
How can we meet our targets for reducing carbon emissions and give British agriculture a much-needed boost at the same time?
Energy crops that can be converted to "carbon neutral" power could be the answer. At Rothamsted Research work to support such crops ranges from molecular studies to assuring end use suitability for the energy industry. Elspeth Bartlet talks to programme leader Angela Karp and agronomist Ian Shield.
Biting back at the flies
Researchers find chemicals that explain why some animals, including people, get bitten more than others.
On holiday, does one of your family always get more mosquito bites than the rest? Researchers at Rothamsted are identifying the chemical reasons why certain individuals, amongst both cattle and humans, are consistently bitten more than others.
All articles have been published in the BBSRC Business Quarterly Magazine
Operates two national networks for monitoring insect populations in the UK. More...
Provides the research community access to a range of in situ state-of-the-art instrumentation in hydrologically isolated fields and farms to better address key issues in sustainable agriculture. More...
A database of interactions between pathogens and their hosts maintained at Rothamsted Research with international input. More...
These have been running since the mid 19th Century, provide a unique experimental system and archive of soil and plant samples. More...
Rothamsted Research receives
strategic funding from the BBSRC
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