In order to feed the growing global population without damaging our planet’s environment, the world needs innovative solutions to unlock the potential of agricultural systems. Supported by UK Research and Innovation, the North Wyke Farm Platform ‘farm lab’ is a large-scale research facility to study the complete flow of nutrients from soil to food, with the clear and distinct aim of making farming a more sustainable endeavour.
The platform is composed of four self-contained farms, each of which is managed under a different operational philosophy. This internationally unique design allows research outputs to be immediately relevant to real-world food producers, and also makes the facility an excellent venue for knowledge exchange events.
Our facility is used by national and international collaborators from a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines, with a particularly strong capability to accommodate studies on pasture-based livestock production systems and optimal land use. We are a founding member of the Global Farm Platform Network, and have recently been recognised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as an exemplar research facility.
The platform is designed to test the following overarching hypothesis, which was put together following a thorough review of Rothamsted's discoveries since its establishment in 1843:
Through improved land management, it is possible to produce nutritious food in a sustainable manner — as evidenced by economic, environmental and social metrics we define and measure — even under a growing population and a changing climate.
Research carried out at our facility will help identify land management strategies to optimise the transfer of essential nutrients from soil to crops, livestock and then into food, thereby contributing to a healthy diet and cleaner natural environment at the same time.
Details of the farm platform’s core remit, it's past, current and planned treatments together with associated hypotheses can be found here.
As a National Bioscience Research Infrastructure funded by BBSRC, all data are freely available, and the platform itself can be used for external researchers to conduct their own research. Please follow this link to access the data portal for data downloads, supplementary material and provisions for using the facilities, including co-development of projects.