Agricultural Systems & Management
Dr Stephen Ramsden
Dr Paul Wilson
Dr Neryssa Glithero
Prof. Neil Crout
Dr Sacha Mooney
Agricultural Systems and Management research aims to build on and integrate with the applied scientific research conducted within the School, other relevant areas of the University and other Universities and Research Organisations. Particular emphasis is placed on issues affecting food, fuel, land and water use, including:
• Impact of agri-environment policies, climate change, and market opportunities
• Sustainable biofuel production from crop co-products
• Farm business strategies and understanding the impact of managerial ability and behaviour on efficiency and farm performance; risk management on farms
• Consumer behaviour and economics of the agri-food chain
• Sustainable soil management in agricultural production
Modelling and applied econometric approaches are widely used within our research programmes.
Funding sources include: Defra, BBSRC, the Tyndall Centre for Climatic Change Research, the Home-Grown Cereals Authority and the Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) program.
Research projects often draw upon data collected by the Rural Business Research Unit.
Collaboration with colleagues in Crop Science, Environmental Science and Nutritional Science and with disciplines outside the School, including Economics, Geography and Community and Health Sciences, and other Universities and Research Organisations, is a feature of both current research and future plans.
Agri-Environment and Farm-Level Adaptations
Dr Stephen Ramsden, Dr Paul Wilson, Prof Neil Crout, Dr Sacha Mooney
Farm level modelling techniques have been developed to capture the complexity inherent in UK farming systems. These models have been applied to research that examines optimal adaptation strategies for UK farmers in response to climate change and policies to reduce nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas emissions to the environment. More recent research has addressed the problem of model complexity and data uncertainty and the extent to which model results are robust to uncertainty. Future plans are to build on this theme, using approaches that rely less on the construction of complex, integrated model systems and more on making better use of available data. Using applied econometric modelling approaches the quality of land in organic production, as a function of its productive capacity, has been estimated and used to explain the marginal impact of increased weed burden and nitrogen within an organic system.
Sustainable Biofuel Production: Farm Systems Assessments
Dr Paul Wilson, Dr Stephen Ramsden, Dr Neryssa Glithero
Determining the economic, energy and environmental impacts of farm-level production of crop products (eg wheat), co-products (eg straw) and energy crops (e.g. miscanthus) is crucial to understanding the basis of feed-stock supply for biofuels and the impacts of this on food supply. The farm systems assessment within Nottingham’s Bioenergy Centre research (URL LINK) seeks to analyse energy balances at the crop and farm level, assess the environmental impacts of biofuel crop and co-product production, quantify the trade offs between profit, energy and greenhouse gas emissions, assess barriers and incentives to adoption at the farm level, and examine the impact on food and energy crop supply at the national level.
Farm Business Strategies, Efficiency and Farm Income Analysis
Dr Paul Wilson, Dr Stephen Ramsden
Fundamental and applied research has examined the impact of farm business strategy responses to changing agri-environment policies, market opportunities and market and production risk. The estimation of depreciation in agricultural machinery has improved farmer understanding of the management of this fixed production cost. Further research has involved estimating and explaining variation in technical and economic efficiency in crop production, focusing particularly upon the influence of managerial ability on efficiency and on the benefits of futures markets as a method of managing risk These areas of research draw upon data collected by the Rural Business Research Unit (RBRU) from Defra-funded research programmes linked to the Farm Business Survey (FBS). The RBRU annually collects and analyses farm and household income data from approximately 280 farms in the East Midlands, and parts of the West Midlands and North West of England. The RBRU at Nottingham is also the lead Unit of Rural Business Research (RBR), the consortium of leading academic institutions that undertake the FBS Research Programme for England. Further outputs linked to the FBS include analysis of labour use on farms, assessment of gross and net margins, exploring the influence of managerial behaviour on performance, and annual research reports exploring the changing fortunes of dairy farming in England.
Consumer Behaviour and Economics of the Food Chain
Dr Paul Wilson
Interest in sustainable and local food has grown over recent years, however no clear definition of sustainability within food consumption has yet emerged. Working with colleagues in Nutritional Science, this research area explores consumers’ attitudes and behaviours towards sustainable, local and organic food products drawing upon an extensive population survey informed by qualitative interviews with a number of consumers. Additionally, this area of research seeks to examine the gap between stated and revealed food preferences by drawing upon secondary data on food sales in comparison to stated food purchase data captured through the population survey.
Linking Sustainable Soil Management to Agricultural Production
Dr Sacha Mooney
Sustainable management of soil resources is required to help meet the increasing demands of food security and the challenges of new environmental policy. We are undertaking research to see how the management of soils can be adapted to meet these challenges. One aspect of our research has been improving seedbed preparation as it is crucial for crop establishment, growth and ultimately, yield. The influence of soil structure on seedbed performance has received little attention due to difficulties in observation which can be enhanced now using X-ray Computed Tomography. Using a wide range of cultivation techniques, from normal, non-inversion, reduced and zero tillage, we are aiming to quantify the effects of cultivation methods on the soil porous environment and its subsequent interaction with the emerging root architecture.