Rothamsted Research is seeking farmers who would be interested in allowing us to study two winter wheat fields and share their management information as part of our ongoing research into sustainable intensification.
In exchange, we will provide a detailed set of measurements of their soil and crop.
The research team are seeking fields in Herefordshire, North Yorkshire, the Scottish Borders and East Lothian.
“We’re after two average-sized fields per farm, from 4 to 15 hectares,” says Ian Shield, an agronomist at Rothamsted. “Ideally, we’d like one that the farmer describes as ‘always good’ and another described perhaps as ‘I never know what to expect’.”
The regions chosen for the productivity study reflect just some of the conditions, from topography to climate, that UK farmers manage on a day-to-day basis. The aim is to discover what factors influence yields and how they change under different conditions.
Helping with this research could transform the performance of a farm’s cereal crop and help to make agricultural land in the UK among the most commercially productive and environmentally sustainable in Europe, said Shield.
“Three or four researchers would visit the fields three times a year when crops have been sown. They would take soil measurements, recording texture and penetration resistance, for instance, and analyse samples for their chemistry.”
Weed and disease pressures would be assessed, and they would also observe crop architecture, he added. Finally, components of yield will be measured.
“Farmers can have all the information relating to their own farms and, of course, access to our results,” says Shield. “We would also need management records from farmers and any historical yield maps for the fields involved. And we can anonymise locations and data, if required.”
The study is part of the wider Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems (ASSIST) programme, which Rothamsted jointly leads with UKCEH.
For more information, please contact Ian Shield firstname.lastname@example.org
Work is planned to start in early March.