Developing metrics and use of long term datasets in grassland systems

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Sustainable Agriculture Sciences-NW

Abstract

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Description Large datasets exist already that are common to both the UK and Uruguay. These are being used to develop the metrics of sustainability. By combining original data from long-term experiments being carried out at both institutes, Rothamsted's Broadbalk wheat trial and INIA's La Estanzuela lay-arable trial, we have demonstrated that the efficiency of nutrient use (ENU), one of the key conventional measures of agronomic performance, does not provide accurate information with regards to dynamic changes in the level of soil 'health'. This finding offers an important policy implication that benchmarking commercial farms according to its ENU can potentially result in adoption of suboptimal farming strategies.

L Cardenas, T Takahashi, M Glendining, P Harris, A Macdonald, A Mead, T Misselbrook, M Lee, V Rubio, F Lattanzi, J Terra. Novel metrics to evaluate farming systems based on dynamic flows of nutrients. AAB SIP Sustainable Intensification Conference, 28-30 November 2017, Harpenden

L Cardenas, T Takahashi, P Harris, A Mead, M Lee, Novel metrics to evaluate farming systems based on dynamic flows of nutrients Aspects of Applied Biology, 136: 143-144.
Exploitation Route The metrics will be linked and used in our BBSRC funded ISPG Soils to Nutrition. They will also be applied in commercial farms to assess their sustainability.
Extrapolation to landscape scale will be done with these metrics as part of the Soils to Nutrition ISPG.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

 
Description Existing data have been used to initiate development and estimation of metrics of agricultural sustainability. Datasets from the Broadbalk and Park Grass Long Term Experiments (LTEs), the North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP) and INIA La Estanzuela LTE (Uruguay) provided resources to make theoretical advancement of these metrics. To date, the vast majority of similar indices are designed for single-season assessment and, as such, fail to acknowledge the long-term and dynamic nature of agricultural production. For example, nutrients applied in the present season and stored in the soil until being used the next season are considered "unutilised" under the existing frameworks to quantify nutrient use efficiency (NUE). We have rectified this issue by proposing an alternative method of farming systems evaluation, whereby a nutrient freshly introduced into the system, e.g. through fertiliser application, was categorised into one of the three possible fates: (1) instantaneously used for today's production (e.g. nitrogen content in grains); (2) reserved within the system for tomorrow's production (e.g. organic nitrogen retained in soil); and (3) lost without being used for production (e.g. nitrous oxide emitted). Here, the long-term performance of each system is measured by the dynamic path of the ratio between these three values, with the "tomorrow" value converging to zero as a system approaches its steady state. Employing the new method has led us to a number of surprising and counterintuitive results. Under the continuous wheat system, for example, the nutrient usage rate was significantly higher when the fertilisation rate was low, with up to 80% of applied nitrogen used within a single season under the input rate of 48kgN ha-1. A closer investigation revealed, however, that such high NUE was almost always accompanied by a severe and continuous loss of the soil nitrogen stock, at the annual depletion rate of up to 9%. Under the high fertilisation rate of 192kgN ha-1, the loss of stock was largely negligible. This approach, on the other hand, resulted in 80% of nutrient input wasted without ever being used for production, demonstrating a clear trade-off between contrasting farm management strategies. In addition to metrics purely based on nutrient cycling, we have also started developing indices that take into account the nutritional value of food produced by each farming system. Sustainability consequences of different food consumption patterns at the diet level are already well-understood; however, few existing studies address nutritional variations of a single commodity attributable to production systems, leaving limited insight into how onfarm practices can be improved to better balance environment and human nutrition. By modifying the method of nutrient profiling, an indexation algorithm to score individual food items frequently adopted by human nutritionists, we constructed a novel framework to incorporate nutritional value of products into sustainability research, first with life cycle assessment (LCA) and then with nutrient cycling. Again, many of our results were counterintuitive, with relative emissions intensities associated with different systems dramatically altered when the nutrient content of food was considered. For example, cattle systems were shown to outperform pig and poultry systems in some cases, and many animal products fared better than their plant-originated alternatives (e.g. tofu) especially when micronutrients were taken into account. This finding has reiterated the importance of sustainability assessment based on a whole supply chain (soil to nutrition) approach.. The award has been used to interact with farmers, exchanging data and tools to assess sustainability. Examples of these interactions are: T.T. was interviewed by and featured in the Ecologist (3 January 2019) to discuss the benefits and disbenefits of intensive farming. T.T. was Interviewed by and featured in the Guardian (29 December 2018) to discuss the benefits and disbenefits of intensive farming. On BBC Farming Today (Nov 2017), Professor Michael Lee & Graham McAuliffe (PhD student) discussed livestock emissions and their paper 'Distributions of emissions intensity for individual beef cattle reared on pasture-based production systems' by McAuliffe G.A., Takahashi T., Orr R.J., Harris P., Lee M.R.F. (2017) in Journal of Cleaner Production Several presentations have been made in conferences such as European Federation of Animal Science, BSAS,
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Revision of emission factors for the greenhouse gas inventory in the UK
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The UK is an Annex I country for the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions to the United Framework Convention for Climate change. As such, the UK is committed to reducing its emissions according to International Agreements (for ex. the Kyoto protocol). The development of new Emission Factors for agriculture has a impact not only on the accounting of national emissions, but also on the application of mitigation strategies from the understanding on where the emissions come from, also to show compliance with the international demands for reduction.
 
Description STARS Centre for Doctoral Training-Harry Barrat
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/M009106/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 03/2021
 
Description Soils to Nutrition, S2N as a Co-I
Amount £8,500,000 (GBP)
Funding ID S2N ISPG 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2022
 
Title Developing of metrics of sustainability 
Description We have started developing the metrics of sustainability from agricultural systems. A database has been compiled that will be populated with detailed information from experimental farms in Uruguay and the UK. These metrics will be tested in commercial farms. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - mammalian in vivo 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The developed metrics will be applicable to industry, particularly farms, fertiliser business and for policy. 
 
Title Compilation of long term experiments data for developing of metrics 
Description Data from the Rothamsted Research and INIA in Uruguay long term experiments has started been compiled for later analyses 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This very rich data source will be used initially for developing metrics of sustainability and will also be supplied to modellers and any other researchers that can make use of it. 
 
Title Farm Platform Data Portal 
Description The Farm Platform Data Portal contains core data for the Farm Platform and facilitates access to the data to both Rothamsted Research staff and the wider research community. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This database allows open access to researchers to utilise the core data generated from the Farm Platform National Capability. The database was first released in 2016 and currently there are ~120 registered users of the data portal 
URL https://nwfp.rothamsted.ac.uk/
 
Title GWmodel R package 
Description GWmodel R package is a collection spatial statistical tools for exploring spatial heterogeneity. Continually developed since its release in 2013. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact "GWmodel" produced 66,200 Google hits. 
URL https://www.jstatsoft.org/article/view/v063i17
 
Title New emission factors for nitrous oxide and methane emissions from agriculture in the UK 
Description From a large programme of research, we have developed new emission factors for nitrous oxide emissions from soils and manure; methane emissions from livestock and manures. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The data has been included in the inventory of greenhouse gases from the UK to estimate emissions 
URL http://www.environmentdata.org/archive/ghgno:676
 
Description Agro-ecological factors influencing prices of cattle products 
Organisation INIA Uruguay
Country Uruguay 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Statistical analysis of data
Collaborator Contribution Provided data for the statistical analysis above
Impact Data sharing for further analysis of the data provided by INIA. Disciplines are economics, statistics, agronomy.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Animal behaviour influence on N2O emissions 
Organisation University of Texas
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The idea of relating emissions of nitrous oxide to animal behaviour, joining my expertise in atmospheric emissions with the behaviour knowledge of the colleague in Texas
Collaborator Contribution The understanding of animal behaviour
Impact Presentations in conferences as listed in the relevant section of this award
Start Year 2016
 
Title GWmodel R package 
Description A suite of spatial statistical modelling tools See https://www.jstatsoft.org/article/view/v063i17 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact 66200 Google hits 
URL https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=GWmodel
 
Description 3rd Conference of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Animal Agriculture Production Systems of Latin America (GALA 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This conference gathers researchers in Latin America working on greenhouse gases and agriculture. Laura Cardenas gave 2 presentations: 'N2O emissions pathways from soils under grazing'; 'What and How' during the conference that took place in October 4th to 6th, 2017 in Colonia, Uruguay
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description AAB Conference on Sustainable Intensification 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A presentation was given in Harpenden, 28-30 Novemberby T Takahashi at the AAB Conference on Sustainable Intensification entitled: Redefining sustainability: novel metrics to evaluate farming systems based on the dynamic flow of nutrients
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description BBSRC International Partnering Award Workshop with INIA, Uruguay. 2-4th December 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact This was a workshop to share research ideas and develop collaborations between INIA and Rothamsted Research as part of the BBSRC Partnering Award between the two Institutes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Exchange visit from Uruguay to the UK, 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit by Valentina Rubio from INIA Uruguay. she is a master's student who fulfilled the exchange visit from Uruguay to the UK and during her visit she participated in the activities:1) 4-7 September: SOM Conference; 2) 8 September: Meeting statisticians at Harpenden; 3) 11-28 September: Metrics work at NW; 4) 29 September: Meeting with statisticians at Harpenden. Valentina worked mostly with Taro Takahashi compiling datasets from the UK and Uruguay to estimate metrics of sustainability
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description First workshop of the metrics development project-Partnering Award INIA and Rothamsted 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A workshop was help in two locations, at North Wyke in Devon and Harpenden in Hertfordshire. Five visitors from INIA in Uruguay attended and presentations were given by them as well as members of Rothamsted in both sites. The workshop was open to all members of Rothamsted staff and about 15 talks were given.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description GW models, CAS, Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China (two-day workshop with A Comber) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact GW models, CAS, Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China (two-day workshop with A Comber)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Geographically Weighted PCA: Introductions and Uses. Spatial Accuracy Conference, Beijing, China (one-day workshop with A Comber) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Geographically Weighted PCA: Introductions and Uses. Spatial Accuracy Conference, Beijing, China (one-day workshop with A Comber)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Global Roundtable of Sustainable Beef 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to give the keynote at the Global roundtable of sustainable beef in Kilkenny Ireland on 'Future Perspectives of Sustainable Agriculture'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited talk at EAAP - European Federation of Animal Science Annual Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to give the key note address for the Livestock and Farming Commission of EAAP on 'Agricultural sustainability metrics based on land required for production of essential human nutrients'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited visit by Regional Government of Chongching PR China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited by the Regional Government of Chongching PR China to discuss aspects of sustainable livestock production at a gathering of party members and Scientists at Rhongchang.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description NFU Cymru - Future of the Uplands 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact NFU Cymru hosted a discussion panel debate at the Royal Welsh show where I presented our research on Sustainable Livestock systems which covered many aspects of projects and research we are undertaking to determine the role and impact of livestock in a sustainable food chain and future environmental policy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description SRUC Research Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to give a key address to all staff at SRUC as part of their research day on the research we have undertaken at Rothamsted on Sustainable Livestock Systems and soil health.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Sustainable Intensification Conference, Harpenden, 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of paper: - Cardenas, Takahashi, Harris, Mead, Lee. Redefining sustainability: novel metrics to evaluate farming systems based on the dynamic flow of nutrients
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The Future of Long-Term Experiments in Agricultural Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of the paper The Future of Long-Term Experiments in Agricultural Science in Rothamsted Conference Centre, 21 May, 2018 by TARO TAKAHASHI, VALENTINA RUBIO, ANDREW MEAD, LAURA CARDENAS, MARGARET GLENDINING, FERNANDO LATTANZI, ANDY MACDONALD, TOM MISSELBROOK, JOSE TERRA and MICHAEL LEE
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Visit from Uruguay to the UK, May 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit by Jose Terra and Jesus Castillo from INIA, Uruguay on 18/5/17. A small group discussed the development of metrics of sustainability and what datasets can be used for this.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Visit from Uruguay to the UK, October 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit by Bruno Lanfranco from INIA, Uruguay, between 10-13 October 2016, included a seminar given by Bruno,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit from Uruguay to the UK, September 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit by Ignacio Macedo and Virginia Pravia from INIA, Uruguay on 8/9/17, where we discussed common areas of research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017