To test the whole-systems response to our sustainable cropping system, we monitor the trends in key indicators of arable ecosystems. The ecological, environmental and economic strands of research in agricultural systems have too often been regarded as independent. Assessment of all three elements simultaneously will provide a better understanding of the implications of adoption of new practices on the whole system.
Click the following links for more information, or here for a table listing all indicator datasets.
We aim to enhance the biodiversity of arable foodwebs for provision of ecosystem services (carbon turnover, nutrient cycling, pollination and natural enemy control of crop pests). Ecological indicators include primary producers and their associated arthropod communities, including natural enemies, pollinators and decomposers
- Arable weed seedbank
- Weed flora
- Margin vegetation
- Natural enemy activity and abundance
- Arable foodwebs (invertebrates)
- Pest and disease incidence and spread
- Pollinator aundance and activity
- Earthworm abundance in relation to
- Litter decomposition rates
We aim to minimise losses of nutrients and agrochemicals to air, water and through soil erosion. Measures include soil water quality, leaching and run-off, soil carbon and soil physical structure. These are negatively affected by intensification and influence the risk of erosion and resistance to root penetration.
- Soil physical structure, water holding capacity, carbon content, sediment loss.
- Soil chemistry
- Greenhouse gas emissions and leaching
- Plant nutrient supply
- Carbon footprint calculations from inputs and machinery use
More sustainable management practices can reduce environmental impact and biodiversity loss but often have a negative impact on crop yield and relative profitability to the farmer. Economic indicators include key variables that affect financial margins, particularly yield, quality and product sale prices, input and labour costs.