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Stephen Ramsden

Associate Professor in Management, Faculty of Science



BSc Agriculture, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, 1982-85

Family Farm, North Yorkshire 1985-1989

PhD, Agricultural Economics, University of Nottingham 1989-1993

Lecturer, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham 1993- present.

University Farm Director, University of Nottingham 2005-2017

Expertise Summary

Applied Agricultural Economics and Rural Business Management: Agri-environmental systems modeling, mitigation of environmental damage from agriculture, adaptation to environmental and policy change, effects of adaptation on farm performance and efficiency, management of risk, measurement of sustainability, agricultural resilience, integration of agricultural science and economics.

Teaching Summary

I teach Agricultural Economics, Farm Management and Agricultural Systems Modelling as part of the undergraduate, masters and research postgraduate programmes at Nottingham. My particular interest is… read more

Research Summary

Understanding Agricultural Systems

Agricultural systems encompass people, output and input activities and constraints. Farmers make decisions about what outputs to produce (e.g. crops, livestock, public goods), what inputs to use (e.g. fertilisers, veterinary products, wildflower seeds) within limits imposed by physical and natural constraints (e.g. amount of machinery, hectares of land). Decision-making is influenced by markets, policies and farmers' attitudes to factors such as risk and financial performance. Changes in the natural environment affect agricultural systems and farmers may need to adapt; agriculture affects natural systems and farmers may need to mitigate e.g. by changing the way they cultivate land to reduce damage to soil and greenhouse gas emissions. To understand these relationships we build 'bio-economic' models. These models capture the different elements of the farm system and how they interact (e.g. the effect of crop rotations on soil fertility). They can therefore be used to assess the implications of change to the farm system; in particular, the trade-off effects of change. Research has addressed the implications of introducing bio-energy crops into UK farm systems; changing cultivation methods from ploughing to reduced tillage; reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating nitrate loss; adapting to climate change; and the effects of new policies on agricultural production, human health and indicators of environmental impact. Recent research has focussed on developing environmental metrics for 'sustainable intensification' and on the relationship between agricultural resilience and efficiency.

Recent Publications

I teach Agricultural Economics, Farm Management and Agricultural Systems Modelling as part of the undergraduate, masters and research postgraduate programmes at Nottingham. My particular interest is bringing through current thinking in Agricultural Economics and showing its relevance to Agricultural Science: scarcity, marginality as a concept for decision making, externalities good and bad, public goods, the nature of agricultural markets, evolution of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Past Research

Please see publications.

Future Research

The current research agenda for agriculture emphasises the idea of sustainable intensification - how it can be achieved and how it can be measured. This is essentially a question of how we make better use of agricultural resources while acknowledging and measuring the effects that agriculture has on the environment. Future research will therefore address the following three questions.

As agriculture modernises it becomes more specialised and input and output levels per unit of land increase. Given standard market and policy conditions, is this specialisation resilient to environmental and policy change?

Sustainable intensification of agricultural systems, for example, by increasing soil organic matter, will take time, with short run costs that may deter many farmers from following a more sustainable time-path. What are these costs and how do we reduce them?

There is a wealth of research information available that can help us improve agriculture. What are the appropriate policies and methods (regulation, taxes and incentives, public extension work?) for transferring appropriate information to farmer practitioners?

School of Biosciences

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Nr Loughborough
LE12 5RD, UK

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