Evaluating how plant community composition influences natural enemy biodiversity and pest regulation services in temperate agroforestry systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Sch of Agriculture Policy and Dev

Abstract

"The overarching aim of this studentship is to work with the Woodland Trust to provide them with sufficient evidence to encourage and optimise integrated tree use on agricultural land. This is known as agroforestry, i.e. farming systems that incorporate the cultivation of trees into agricultural production. These systems often benefit from increased pollination services and biodiversity, and can achieve higher production efficiency, relative to conventional mono-cropping. Modifications to the design of these systems could enable further increases in productivity by enhancing the quality of habitats for biodiversity, enabling further integration of biodiversity derived ecosystem services into production.

During this project the student will be trained in a variety of fieldwork techniques and will generate new data sets to:
1) investigate the links between plant community composition and natural pest regulation services provided by agroforestry; and
2) develop and test novel management practices to provide more eco-functional agroforestry systems with enhanced pest regulation services

Using the data generated in these studies in combination with our pre-existing data sets on carbon, biodiversity, pollination and yield (crop and tree) in agroforestry systems, the student will gain training in quantitative methods to:
3) model the economic value of both pest regulation and pollination services provided by agroforestry systems; and
4) investigate the trade-offs between the different ecosystem services provided by agroforestry."

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/R012229/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2022
1937142 Studentship NE/R012229/1 30/09/2017 31/12/2021 Thomas Staton
 
Description The ongoing findings are being communicated to farmers and advisers through conferences, farmer events and our ongoing collaboration with the Woodland Trust. This has included presentations at events, participation in workshops and a research note published by the Woodland Trust.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Development of a novel trait-based approach to understand how and why optimal trap design for forest pests varies across taxa
Amount £8,369 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/V019333/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2021 
End 05/2022
 
Title Cereal and apple yield data from agroforestry and monoculture systems in the UK, 2018-2020 
Description This dataset comprises cereal yield data from agroforestry and paired arable control systems, in addition to apple fruit count, width, and seed count data from agroforestry and orchard systems. The cereal data was collected from three working farms in the UK, each with paired agroforestry and arable fields under the same management. The agroforestry apple data was collected from five agroforestry sites in the UK, while orchard apples were sourced from a UK wholesaler, with the fruits originating from Kent, UK, except for organic Braeburn, which originated from Lower Saxony, Germany. Yield samples were taken shortly prior to harvest of the commercial crop. The agroforestry systems comprised 24 m wide crop alleys separated by rows of apple trees. The data was collected to compare productivity of apple-cereal intercropping agroforestry systems with comparable monocultures of arable and orchards. Cereal yield data was collected between 2018 and 2020, while all apple data was collected in 2020. All data was collected by Tom Staton (University of Reading). See the associated publication and Supplementary Material for further details of data collection and results. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None known as yet 
URL https://data.mendeley.com/datasets/rjf86nv3n6/1
 
Title Evaluating a trait-based approach to compare natural enemy and pest communities in agroforestry versus arable systems 
Description This dataset contains invertebrate abundance data for agroforestry and paired arable control systems. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None known yet 
URL https://datadryad.org/stash/dataset/doi:10.5061/dryad.rn8pk0p84
 
Title Invertebrate pests, natural enemies, pollinators, pest damage and yields associated with different understorey treatments in an agroforestry system, Nottinghamshire, UK, 2020 
Description This resource comprises abundance data for invertebrates, pest damage to apples, and yields from an agroforestry system subject to two different understorey management treatments, comprising an unmown flowering understorey and a mown understorey. The data was collected from an intercropped apple-arable agroforestry site in Screveton, Nottinghamshire, UK, from five experimental blocks, each block split between the two understorey management treatments. The data was collected between April and September 2020. Data was collected using (i) pitfall traps, (ii) sticky traps, (iii) visual searches of apple trees for natural enemies, pests and fruit damage from pests and disease, (iv) flower visitation counts for pollinators, (v) apple fruit yield and quality metrics, and (vi) grain yield samples. The data was collected to compare the effect of understorey management in agroforestry on functional invertebrates and associated ecosystem services. All data was collected by Tom Staton (University of Reading). Three pitfall traps were damaged and are excluded from the dataset, comprising (i) Visit 1, Block 2, Mown treatment, Position 4; (ii) Visit 4, Block 2, Mown treatment, Position 3; and (iii) Visit 4, Block 3, Unmown treatment, Position 2. The research was funded under NERC grant NE/R012229/1 Quantitative and Modelling Skills in Ecology and Evolution (QMEE) CDT 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None know as yet 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/id/83a10b11-23ef-4378-a56d-c63cce365275
 
Title Trait database (from 'Evaluating a trait-based approach to compare natural enemy and pest communities in agroforestry versus arable systems') 
Description New trait databases for invertebrate herbivores and natural enemies, compiled from a literature search, are published as Supplementary Information to this article. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None known yet 
URL https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/eap.2294
 
Description Woodland Trust 
Organisation Woodland Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are collecting data to provide the Woodland Trust with evidence to encourage and optimise integrated tree use on arable land.
Collaborator Contribution The Woodland Trust has helped us with agreeing access to field study sites, published a research note describing the early project findings, and has allowed us to present initial findings of the project at a agricultural show/conference session hosted by the Woodland Trust.
Impact See Engagement Activities entitled: 'Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel - Woodland Trust research briefing' 'A talk or presentation - Presentation at Groundswell Agriculture Show and Conference' (this was at a session hosted by the Woodland Trust)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Interview in Woodland Trust magazine 'Broadleaf' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact Guest interview about the project for a feature in the 'Broadleaf' magazine, which is published exclusively for the 500,000 Woodland Trust members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Interviewed on 'Regenerative Agroforestry' podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Interviewed about the project for this hour-long podcast episode which reaches an international audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.regenerativeagroforestry.org/episodes/episode/82179876/22-how-agroforestry-improves-farm...
 
Description Online blog for the agricology website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A guest blog discussing the initial research findings and relevance to farmers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.agricology.co.uk/field/blog/could-farming-trees-help-control-pests-and-boost-pollinators
 
Description Oral presentation at British Ecological Society's 'Festival of Ecology' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact An oral presentation was available 'on demand' during this online conference, accompanied by a Q&A chat area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Poster at the British Ecological Society annual meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A poster was presented at the meeting accompanied by a lightning talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation and panel discussion at RSPB webinar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An oral presentation was given at RSPB's Hope Farm webinar on agroforestry, followed by participation in a panel discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Presentation at Groundswell Agriculture Show and Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An oral presentation of the research outcomes was made to a mostly farming audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation at Oikos annual meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Oral presentation to the Swedish Oikos annual meeting (online), which was presented live with a Q&A session. The presentation attracted much discussion after the talk, and again at the end of the session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Presentation to British Ecological Society's annual meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact An oral presentation was given at the joint meeting of the British and French Ecological Societies, in Liverpool. This was followed by a Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Presentation to European Agroforestry Conference 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact An oral presentation was given at the online European Agroforestry Conference, with a subsequent question & answer session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Presentation to Lund University's Biodiversity and Conservation Science research group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact An oral presentation was given to the research group followed by a Q&A session and discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Presentation to Organic Research Centre's webinar 'How can agroforestry contribute towards biodiversity conservation?' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An oral presentation was given to this webinar, which featured three speakers, and was followed by a panel discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.organicresearchcentre.com/news-events/news/how-can-agroforestry-contribute-towards-biodi...
 
Description Presentation to the European Agroforestry Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An oral presentation was given during the conference, and an abstract published in the conference book of abstracts which was made available online.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Woodland Trust research briefing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We produced a research briefing to summarise the state of literature and the aims and objectives of the project. This was uploaded to the Woodland Trust website and paper copies are often available at agroforestry farmer events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/publications/2019/04/agroforestry-for-pest-control-and-pollination/