Managing pollination services at farm-scale: making 'ecological intensification' a reality

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Biological Sciences


This project asks how individual farmers can manage pollinators in their landscapes to provide pollination services to crops they are growing.

The IPBES global assessment of pollinators and pollination identified 'ecological intensification' as a key strategy for supporting pollinators and pollination services worldwide. This approach to farming actively manages ecological functions such as pollination, pest regulation and soil nutrient cycling to increase yield. Demand for pollination in agriculture is growing, yet many pollinators are declining in range and/or abundance.

You will do the underlying research needed to build a pollination module in the Omnia Precision software package, recently launched by CASE partner HL Hutchinson Ltd ( The module will incorporate pollinator dependency of crops grown on the farm, identities and dynamic pollen and nectar needs of key pollinators for these crops, maps of floral resources, estimated resource deficits, with practical advice on how to correct them. Your work will be a major step forward in operationalising ecological intensification for real farms.
You will join the NERC EnvEast Doctoral Training Programme at UEA (, and the Hutchinsons Foundation graduate training programme for agronomists, setting you up for a career in sustainable agriculture at the interface between research and business.

Key skills you will develop:

Ecological sampling and experimental design
Ecological modelling
Statistical analysis, including spatial data
Applications of GIS and remote sensing in landscape ecology
Software development
Working with industry


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/P010199/1 01/10/2017 31/12/2021
1928670 Studentship NE/P010199/1 01/10/2017 30/11/2021
Description We have discovered that high-resolution multispectral aerial imagery can be used to classify and map nectar-rich flower species of importance to pollinators.
Exploitation Route The outcomes demonstrate a method that can be used for assessing floral resources already available to pollinators, allowing appropriate habitat management actions to be determined.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

Description I produced an internal report for my ICASE industry partner Hutchinsons which will inform any future research that they may wish to undertake and any decisions they may wish to undertake in relation to developing a 'pollinator' layer in their Precision Farming software Omnia.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Title Multispectral airborne imagery and associated classifications, training data and validation data, for mapping nectar-rich floral resources for pollinators, Northamptonshire, UK 2020 
Description Data presented here include imagery with ground-sampling distances of 3 cm and 7 cm for March 2019, May 2019 and July 2019. Also included are the corresponding ground-truth training and verification data presented as shapefiles, as well as the classification output and other data relevant to the project such as the width of floral units. The imagery was acquired by Spectrum Aviation using A6D-100c (50mm) Hasselblad cameras with bayer filters, mounted on a Sky Arrow 650 manned aircraft. Ground-truth data for training maximum likelihood classifications and for verifying the accuracy of classifications were gathered within eight days of imagery acquisition. Ground-truth data were acquired from sown field margins and hedgerow surrounding one study field. This dataset was acquired from March to July 2019 at a farm in Northamptonshire, UK. Data were acquired as part of a NERC funded iCASE PhD studentship (NERC grant NE/N014472/1) based at the University of East Anglia and in collaboration with Hutchinsons Ltd. The aim of the research was to map the floral units of five nectar-rich flowering plant species using very high resolution multispectral imagery. Each species constitutes an important food resource for pollinators. The plant species in question were Prunus spinosa, Crataegus monogyna, Silene dioica, Centaurea nigra and Rubus fruticosus. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact An open dataset that allows other people to make use of the imagery, classifications and ground-truth data. 
Description ICASE partner HL Hutchinsons Ltd 
Organisation H L Hutchinson Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I worked in collaboration with Hutchinsons throughout the PhD shaping the research questions to keep them useful and relevant to Hutchinsons work.
Collaborator Contribution They provided me with training opportunities e.g. in farm business management, BASIS conservation training and so on, as well as regular supervision and advice throughout the project. They funded the acquisition of additional remote sensing imagery for use in the project which was not included in the above in-kind contribution.
Impact I produced an internal written report for Hutchinsons summarising the research from the PhD project of relevance for them, outlining future research directions for them, and providing advice on methods should they want to expand the research further in the future.
Start Year 2017
Description Fieldwise Newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The industry partner H L Hutchinsons with whom I work produces a monthly newsletter 'Fieldwise'. This goes out to their farming customers and is available on their website. I wrote an article linked to my research for the July 2019 edition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Helix Live online 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 My CASE PhD partner Hutchinsons held an online workshop for their farming customers to attend. This outlined their Helix project including the agricultural sustainability side of the project and how Hutchinsons is building sustainability and a farm biodiversity focus into their operations. I discussed my research project looking at how on-farm habitat can be better managed to benefit pollinators and how this could be incorporated into the sustainability/biodiversity component of the Helix project.

The presentations were followed by a question and answer session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Norwich Science Festival (stand and participation on panel) 
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 The Norwich Science Festival is designed to engage the Norwich and wider Norfolk community with important issues being addressed by science, for example through the Norwich Research Park.

I organised a stand whereby children and their parents could learn about the importance of pollinators linked to many of the foods that they enjoy eating and actions that they themselves can implement in their own gardens. I also had information and an activity about precision farming and how this could link to better managing for biodiversity on farms.

Separately to my stand at the festival, I sat on a panel organised by a group of PhD student on my DTP studentship. The panel took questions from members of the public linked to various environmental issues and how these can be addressed. I took questions relating to sustainable agriculture.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Presentation at internal conference run by ICASE partner HL Hutchinsons 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact H L agronomists and employees attended the internal conference and listened to the talk where I outlined my research project and the importance of pollinators.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description SciEnvy blog post 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I wrote a blog post for our EnvEast Doctoral Training Partnership blog to share my work with other PhD students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Talk at British Ecological Society Festival of Ecology online conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I did an online talk about my research at the British Ecological Society 'Festival of Ecology' online conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020