NEWS

HARVESTING COMBINE DATA TO TACKLE FIELD-EDGE YIELD DECLINES

Study links biodiversity found just beyond the field with variations in yield

  • 22
  • APR
  • 2020

Rothamsted scientists are assessing whether flower-rich margins, hedgerows or tree lines are helping improve yield and asking farmers to help by sending them GPS data collected at harvest.

In return for their help, the Institute will provide farmers with an easy to interpret summary of the findings, with tips on how they might increase production.

The data will be integral to a study linking the biodiversity found just beyond the field with variations in yield within it

Dr Helen Metcalfe, who is collating the data, said different types of field boundaries could help to reduce the yield decline at field edges.

“Have you ever wondered what the true benefit of hedgerows, treelines or flower rich margins are on your crop yield?

“By linking the yield monitor data collected by GPS enabled combine harvesters with the presence of different landscape features, we will try to determine whether yield decline towards the edge of fields is associated with certain types of boundaries.

“Likewise, we will also identify whether features known to support pollinators and other beneficial wildlife are having a positive effect on yield in the nearest parts of the crop.

“We’d be really grateful it if any farmers with yield monitor data from their combines would share it with us.”

The EcoStack project is hoping that information on the location, quality and quantity of landscape features such as hedgerows or wildflowers linked to yield maps will give the clearest indication yet on the benefit of on-farm biodiversity.

Data from any sort of crop, from any part of the UK will be useful, added Dr Metcalfe, stressing that no farmer data will be shared beyond this project.

“We won’t publish maps or use them in presentations without prior consent, and the way the data will be pooled and processed before publication means nothing identifiable will be detectable from it.”

More information on how to take part, including simple instructions on how to download combine data, can be obtained from here

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

About BBSRC
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.