How innovative farming systems lead to sustainable agriculture

Female farmer holding box of produce

Credit: PeopleImages/ Getty Images

Feeding a rapidly growing global population in a sustainable way is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

A warming planet continues to cause a disastrous domino effect on air, land, and sea.

To address the land challenge, researchers and academics from multiple disciplines have joined forces to develop new tools, technologies, and data infrastructures. These will meet the current and future needs of the UK agriculture community.

Research in action

Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems (ASSIST) is a long-term national capability, jointly funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The programme develops innovative farming systems that maintain or increase productivity and resilience to future disturbances.

These systems also help reduce the environmental and ecological footprint of agriculture.

With a no-size-fits-all solution, researchers are exploring the potential for ‘nature-based solutions’. These include mixed species pastures and enhancing the populations of natural enemies of crop pests to simultaneously increase food production from existing farmland while improving environmental quality and outcomes.

Collaboration vital to climate change challenge

BBSRC’s strategically funded institute, Rothamsted Research, and NERC’s British Geological Survey and the UK Centre for Hydrology and Ecology bring required expertise in management of natural resources and crop production.

Collaboration allows the programme to advance farming systems to increase food production with more efficient use of inputs to:

  • increase efficiency of food production
  • improve resilience to extreme events
  • reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture

ASSIST continues to fully examine the impacts of intensification on the wider environment and combine ecological and biotechnological solutions to achieve both environmental and agronomic sustainability.

Find out more about ASSIST

ASSIST welcomes opportunities for new partnerships with the academic community and farming industry to address critical knowledge gaps.

To find out more about the ASSIST programmes outputs, visit the latest news page and updates to available data under informatics and tools.

Join the conversation: follow the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology on Twitter @UK_CEH and search the hashtag #ASSISTagri.

Last updated: 23 September 2021

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