Quantifying Sustainable Systems

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Unlisted

Abstract

Existing approaches to sustainability do not integrate the interactions between aspects of sustainability well. Also, we need to address the sustainability of modern agriculture and the impact on it of climate change and assess the developments that will accrue from other projects undertaken by Rothamsted.

We propose to adopt an ecosystem services approach (ES), including crop production, to develop methods to determine the trade-offs and synergies between services in agroecosystems, e.g. between yield and GHG emission and to quantify the overall sustainability of agricultural practices. Building on existing research, we will develop a mathematical framework to quantify, value and compare the provision of goods and environmental services. This project will liaise closely with others in the Rothamsted programmes (Delivering Sustainable Systems, 20:20 Wheat®, Designer Seeds and Carbon Capture), as well as with external research, to derive the necessary mechanistic understanding but also to obtain the data needed. We will quantify sustainability by first exploring exemplars and generalise later to other areas. Sustainable crop protection, including sustainable use of crop protection chemicals and the role of farmer choice, will be one of the key examplars.

To make progress we need to address 4 major challenges:
1) trade-offs- optimising production and environment or provisioning and other services
2) valuation of all ES not just production
3) resilience - consistent delivery of all services
4) spatial and temporal balance - ensuring that services are balanced locally, regionally and globally, now and for the foreseeable future

General Principle:
A sustainable system, comprising multiple aims, is one in which no single aim is compromised by attainment of another and where perturbation, as a result of environmental or management change, results in either improvement or a rapid return to the initial state and not system failure.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This grant is only part way through. We are developing a system for analysing objectively the sustainability of agricultural systems that could be applied more readily. Tradeoffs between production and environmental services both in the present and potentially in the future are put on the same basis. Optimal strategies can be devised.
Exploitation Route The metrics may have wide applicability. I will seek additional funds for additional staff to widen the testing and application
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy

 
Description I organised a workshop in March 2014 to bring together academia, practice and industry and discuss better ways of working together. This has led to a policy paper submitted to the ESRC nexus (a grant was won to to do this) and a website is being set up to circulate a draft 'manifesto' for cooperative sustainable intensification science in the UK
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Uptake of awareness of Soil Organic Matter among suppliers of fresh produce to Waitrose
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact About 1000 suppliers are required by Waitrose to consider aspects of their practice on the environment and social welfare. More than 80% now have a good understanding of the importance of maintaining soil organic matter, We are currently working towards the next farm assessment in 2018
URL http://www.sustainableagriculturewaitrose.org/research/waitrose-farm-assessment/
 
Description AHDB soil and water management
Amount £1,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2021
 
Description BBSRC ISP S2N ASSIST
Amount £8,500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2022
 
Description BBSRC NERC ISP NC
Amount £5,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2022
 
Description Defra revised Inventory
Amount £1,200,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 03/2017
 
Description FACCE JPI Surplus
Amount € 1,600,000 (EUR)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2016 
End 04/2019
 
Description SIP
Amount £2,500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 04/2017
 
Description SOM Defra
Amount £300,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2012 
End 11/2015
 
Description Soil Management Yield Maps
Amount £200,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RD-2012-3785 
Organisation Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2012 
End 02/2016
 
Description Soil management SOM AHDB
Amount £1,470,982 (GBP)
Funding ID RD-2012-3787 
Organisation Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2012 
End 08/2016
 
Description BBSRC Collabaorative Training Partnership 
Organisation Waitrose Limited
Department Waitrose Agronomy Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The BBSRC CTP will fund 15 studentships over 3 years. University partners will also contribute studentships
Collaborator Contribution Financial Network of growers with field problems Other academics in complementary disciplines
Impact First cohort of student projects currently with BBSRC for approval
Start Year 2016
 
Description Attendance of the FACCE-SURPLUS Knowledge Network on Sustainable Intensification 
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 FACCE-JPI wishes to coordinate funding for research in the area of Sustainable Intensification research in Europe
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Attendances TempAg meeting 
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 Coordination of research on sustainable agriculture in Temperate Agriculture
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Discussed possible studentships with the Waitrose Agronomy Group at their 2017 Science meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 6 potential projects identified for further work up as research projects in the Collaborate Training Partnership
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description First Annual Meeting of the SI research Community 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The purpose of the SI network was outlined and discussed
Participants fed back the kinds of activities and actions they would like to see
As a result a discussion forum is being set up and a workshop to engage social and biological scientists is being organised
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.sirn.org.uk
 
Description Mid Career Scientists training group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact 30 young scientists were given training and took part in exercises to simulate grant and report writing. The focus was on the Defra 25 Year plan and the sustainable intensification research network. The event provided an opportunity for the scientists to network with one another
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://sirn.org.uk/event/sustainable-intensification-valuing-nature-in-dialogue-enabling-researcher...
 
Description Speaking at The Anual Waitrose Agrocnomy Group Scientific conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Outlined ideas about using organic amendments in agriculture. consulted with practice about practical issues in relation to soils
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Tree of Tradeoffs - engagement with members of the public 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the Rothamsted Festival of ideas celebrating 175 years of Rothamsted, we held an event over the last weekend in June 2018 to ask members of the public about what they would like to see from Agriculture. We had a manufactured tree on which visitors were invited to hang different coloured leaves representing their 4 choices from 6 possibilities: cheap food, rural livelihoods, environment, nutritious food, farm profit or food security. Crucially visitors were limited to the 4 choices. This enabled us to engage with them and talk about what issues were more important than others. Visitors were also encouraged to write comments on the leaves that they hung on the tree. We reached over 600 people in this way, many of them children
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshop Eliciting targets for the sustainable development goals and goal 2 in particular 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A workshop was convened in order to identify the views of stakeholders on the nature of agriculture in 2030 and 2050 and the ways in which agriculture might change to deliver to the UN SDGs in an full and meaningfull way as possible. Stakeholders were divided in to those representing arable, livestock or diary sectors and having identified reasonable targets by way of improving agriculture, reflected on pathways over time to reach these targets and goals
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018