SCIENCE DEPARTMENT

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE SCIENCES

We focus our research on harnessing the power of new systems biology. These combine predictive modelling with experimentation in the field and in the lab. The result is improved understanding of the complexity of arable and grassland production systems and what it means for practical land management, food production and environmental goals. 

The department has internationally-acknowledged expertise in the biology, chemistry and physics of soils and soil processes in arable and grassland systems. It has particular expertise in nutrient and pollutant cycling, the recycling of organic manures, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, soil-root interactions, soil and crop (including forage) modelling, soil erosion and nutrient loss, fine sediment dynamics and sediment-associated nutrient and contaminant fluxes at catchment and national scale. We also have expertise in grazing systems, ruminant nutrition, and system economic evaluation with a growing capability in Life Cycle Assessment. We are signatories to the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research in the UK, more detail be found about our animal polices here.

The Department mainly contributes to the Future Agri-Food Systems and the Superior Crops Science Portfolios, including the three Institute Strategic Programme Grants on: Soils To Nutrition, Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems and Designing Future Wheat. The department is also home to the Long-Term Experiments and the North Wyke Farm Platform National Capabilities. Scientists in the Sustainable Agriculture Sciences department are based at our campuses in Harpenden and North Wyke.

PROJECTS

SCIENCE CLUSTERS

Surveillance and monitoring

AGRONOMY AND NUTRIENT FLOWS

It is essential to optimise the way crops and grassland are managed to enhance yield and nutrient value of produce.

Surveillance and monitoring

ATMOSPHERIC EMISSIONS AND MITIGATION

We are developing process understanding of N and C cycling to quantify and mitigate greenhouse gas and ammonia fluxes in agricultural systems

Surveillance and monitoring

ENVIRONMENT AND SYSTEMS MODELLING

Combining expertise in integrating empirical and modelling approaches to characterise agricultural impacts on resource sustainability and scope for mitigating those impacts

Surveillance and monitoring

GRAZING LIVESTOCK SYSTEMS

We are at a crucial time for livestock agriculture where we need to maximize production and minimize pollution, but great care must be taken when assessing systems due to the complexity of the algorithm required for sustainable intensification.

Surveillance and monitoring

SYSTEMS MODELLING

Our research focusses on evaluating the sustainability of modern agricultural practices and the trade-offs with the provision of environmental goods and services