CRPR in key roles as Defra Sustainable Intensification Research gathers pace

The Defra funded University of Exeter led Project 2 of the Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (SIP) reaches an important phase this week. A survey of collaborative farming commences in seven study areas across England and Wales and a key workshop will take place in Birmingham to explore the theme of farmer collaboration in the context of achieving sustainable intensification (SI), the concept of maximising the economic, social and environmental benefits produced by agricultural land.

The £2million project, led by Professor Michael Winter, is entitled “Opportunities and Risks for Farming and the Environment at Landscape Scales”, and is part of a wider investment by Defra.

One of the key aims of this project is to understand when and where coordinated action across multiple-farms is required to achieve SI and to design and test ways of collaborative working in three study areas in England and Wales: Taw (Devon), Conwy (North Wales) and Upper Welland (East Midlands).

Dr Rob Fish and Dr Matt Lobley of CRPR will lead a themed workshop on 27 February in Birmingham, the second of six scheduled across the lifetime of the project. This event, called “Landscape-scale collaborations for the sustainable intensification of agriculture”, will be attended by 35 scientists, farmers, decision makers and stakeholders who will discuss the findings of a literature review and hear from existing programmes, initiatives and policy delivery perspectives to understand the characteristics of good farmer collaboration. The discussions will form the basis for key guiding principles and design of cooperative practices which will be tested in the study areas.

Meanwhile, this week Centre researchers Dr Hannah Chiswell and Rebecca Wheeler began conducting a survey of farms in the Taw (Devon) and Wensum and Yare (Norfolk) catchments to explore current collaborative practices and attitudes towards them. Their work will not only provide valuable baseline information for Project 2, but also feed in to the NIAB-led Project 1, which is investigating Integrated Farm Management for improved economic, environmental and social performance on farms.

For further information contact Gavin Huggett, SIP 2 Project Manager. Tel: 01392 725042, email: g.huggett@exeter.ac.uk

26 February 2015

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