Farm Platform National Capability
The Farm Platform provides a Research Hotel for agri-environmental research, attracting researchers from different communities and disciplines to promote new ideas or tackle old problems in new ways. The Farm Platform is globally unique in that it can provide the research community access to a range of in situ state-of-the-art instrumentation in hydrologically isolated fields and farmlets to better address key issues in sustainable agriculture related to, for example:
- Replacement of N fertiliser with N-fixation by legumes - achieving a reduction in energy and GHG emissions for both environmental and economic reasons
- Using plants to manage soils and hydrology
- Efficient phosphorus cycling in grassland systems
- Resilience of soil biota and their functions to land-use change
- Impact of grassland management on C cycling and storage - C sequestration
- Water resource use efficiency
- Systems modelling to design optimal grassland production systems
The Farm Platform provides three farming systems consisting of five component fields comprising just over 20 ha in total per farmlet. All the water leaving individual fields is channelled through a flume (15 in total) with already significant results: the 2012-13 winter was one of the wettest on record with almost 1 billion litres of rain recorded.
Each farmlet is managed differently and the impact on water, air and soil and livestock production recorded. As a National Capability, it provides a set of quality controlled core data (accessed via Rothamsted’s Electronic Rothamsted Archive, e-RA) from across the Platform that is available to all research users and collaborators.
The main 'treatments' on the platform are:
- Sustainable intensification of permanent grassland (Sward improvement through increased fertilisation). In this system we will increase the use of industrially produced fertilisers which will increase the carrying capacity of animals.
- Increased use of legumes (Sward improvement through introduction of legumes). Clover based systems can replace up to 150kgN/ha of industrially produced nitrogen, contribute to high protein and high digestibility forage, have high animal intake and performance and are suitable for both grazing and conservation.
- Planned reseeding (Sward improvement through reseeding). There are 1.2 million ha of temporary grassland, i.e. pasture that is <5 years old. Approximately 1/3 is reseeded each year in the UK, so reseeding is therefore an important management system. Reseeding pastures with newer varieties should increase animal production in the early years.
Live data trends from the Farm Platform, from the last 30 days: Daily precipitation, soil temperature and flow catchment.
A publicly accessible Farm Platform Website will provide a portal to all activities relating to the National Capability. It will contain documentation, experimental calendars and details of protocols as well as information about how new studies can be initiated using the FP
The Spatial Modelling System for North Wyke created by Anita Shepherd and Bruce Griffith, merges satellite imagery with LIDAR in a GIS together with sampled field parameters.
View a map of the North Wyke Farm Platform
How will climate change affect farming in the UK?
18 million litres of rain fell on 68 ha grassland on the North Wyke Farm Platform over a period of just 24 h in July 2012
Microbial Cycling at the farm: A systems approach to assess risks and opportunities
Detailed knowledge of how microbes, including pathogenic bacteria, cycle on farm systems between environment, feed and animal is lacking. In order to be able to tackle issues relating to animal health, contamination of drinking water and development of antibiotic resistant bacteria we need to build up a better understanding of how microbes cycle within farm systems and the losses from the system to the environment.
Development and deployment of a laboratory incubation system for quantifying gaseous emissions from soil/plant systems and assessment of their controlling factors
Biogenic emissions of gases (such as N2O and CO2) from soils are of global interest as they impact atmospheric chemistry and ecosystems via their effect as greenhouse gases, ozone production or loss of soil N. Soils are a major source of some of these gases, due to microbial pathways such as denitrification and nitrification. The carbon source for denitrification is derived from plant decomposition or organic manures. Roots also exude substantial amounts of sugars and organic acids so living plants are also potentially a source of C for denitrification.
Situated about 5 miles from Okehampton in Devon, the North Wyke site of Rothamsted Research Limited comprises of offices, laboratories and residential accommodation. A vacancy has now arisen for a part-time cleaner (22.5 hours per week) to join the existing team and share a variety of duties ranging from domestic cleaning of student accommodation to more specialist cleaning of laboratories.
The ideal candidate will be a responsible and self-motivated individual capable of maintaining high standards of cleanliness. In addition you will:
Rothamsted Research, the largest agricultural research centre in the UK and the oldest agricultural research station in the world, is seeking a Research Assistant 22.5 hours per week in the ‘Sustainable Crop Yields and Quality’ Research Group of Prof. Steve McGrath.