Datasets and indicators
To test the whole-systems response to our sustainable cropping system, we monitor the trends
in key indicators of arable ecosystems. The ecological (biotic interactions), environmental
abiotic conditions) and economic (viability and profitability) 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 p
ractices on the whole system.
Click 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 microbial
and invertebrate communities, including natural enemies, pollinators and
- Arable weed seedbank
- Weed flora
- Margin vegetation
- Natural enemy activity and abundance
- Pest and disease incidence and spread
- Pollinator aundance and activity
- Earthworm communities
- Microbial activity (litter decomposition rates)
We aim to minimise losses of nutrients and agrochemicals to air, water and through soil erosion.
Closing the system and improving resilience helps to minimise the requirement for external inputs.
Indicators include measures of soil biophysical and chemical properties and estimates of environmental footprint.
- Soil physical structure, water holding capacity, carbon content,
- 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.
- Crop yield
- Yield stability
- Product quality
- Fuel use
- Tractor time
- Input costs