Cropping and the Environment

The Group aims to develop a range of innovative meetings and events tackling key topical and strategic issues in the areas of crops and cropping systems; weed, vegetation and nutrient management and wider agri-environment issues.

Recent subjects of conferences organised by the Group include:  What makes an alien invasive? – risk and policy responses, Agri-Environment Schemes: where do we go from here? Measuring and Marketing the Environmental Costs and Benefits of Agricultural Practice, Biomass and Energy Crops.

The Group is also responsible for delivering the Crop Protection in Southern Britain meeting

We welcome ideas for conferences or other activities from AAB members; please forward these to the Group via the AAB office.

I look forward to meeting you at one of our conferences soon.    

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Kairsty Topp

Kairsty is an Agricultural Systems Modeller at the Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). My research interest lies in understanding the impact of changes in farm management in cropping / grassland systems on the environment, and in how an understanding of these issues can inform economic and social models of the farming system. 

 

Alongside colleagues, my research addresses the global warming potential of different management systems, mitigation and adaptation strategies for farming systems, and tools to compare the sustainability of different farming systems.  I work closely with colleagues from SCRI and other European countries to develop these tools that will be crucial in the assessment of the environmental impact and economic resilience of farming systems. 

 

Current areas of work focus on N2O emissions from grasslands and arable rotations, the assessment of the GWP of crop/arable systems at the Scottish regional level, the development of tools to aid in the assessment of, and how crop/arable systems impact of the environmental and economic sustainability of farming systems.  I also have an interest in developing methods to assess how crop morphology impacts on weed and diseases in cereal crops, and understanding the affects of management and climate on a long-term rotation.

Convener

Group Members

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Rob Carlton

I run a business focused on sustainable agriculture and with a focus on climate change, resource management and pesticide stewardship. I am particularly interested in management of arable soils in order to protect the environment and manage water resources whilst maintaining productivity. I aim to combine good science with common sense to determine how land resources can best be utilised to meet the needs of society.

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Jake Bishop

I study how crop production is affected by stressful weather conditions such as heatwaves and droughts, and what we can do to avoid negative impacts. Crop plants are part of a wider ecosystem, so I’m also interested how weather changes interactions between crops and beneficial organisms such as pollinators and pest control agents. My group uses a range of different approaches, from analysing historical records of weather, crop yield and farm management, to exposing plants and insects to simulated climate change in controlled environments. The broad aim of my research is to develop a clearer understanding of threats to food production and help growers to adapt as unfavourable weather conditions become more common. We have a particular focus on how this adaptation can be achieved sustainably while supporting and benefitting from the wider cropping environment. This research feeds directly into my teaching at the University of Reading.

Naomi Jones

Naomi is a senior ecologist at Fera, specialising in the impacts of agri-environment schemes and changes in agricultural management on plant communities, habitat condition, wider biodiversity and other environmental issues.​

Naomi has 25 years' research experience including management of multidisciplinary, collaborative studies. She has managed many recent evaluations of agri-environment schemes and related initiatives including current projects evaluating the new Countryside Stewardship, assessing the role of advice on HLS agreement set-up, monitoring of Entry Level Stewardship and the impact of ETIP advice and the evaluation of voluntary measures implemented under the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.​

Her recent research has included studies which combine ecological and wider environmental survey with socio-economic issues such as farmers' attitudes to, and understanding of, agri-environment policies and their implementation. Other areas of research include management of weeds (detrimental and beneficial) in arable systems.

Syed Shah

I did my PhD in 2012 from the University of Aberdeen and the University of the Highland and Islands, Scotland. My research was on a very old landrace of barley called Bere barley in Orkney. After completion, I joined a distributor as researcher and as an agronomist providing agronomy advice to growers in the south and south-west. I  have been in the agricultural industry for the last seven years. Currently I am working as a  regional agronomist for NIAB TAG. I am passionate about crop research and finding ways to improve crop and soil health/soil biology. My research objectives are finding ways to reduce our reliance on chemical use without comprising crop yields by  improving the efficiency chemicals and fertiliser inputs. Currently I am researching on new fungicides, herbicides, bio-stimulants, micro-nutrients,  protected urea, cover crops and flea-beetle control

William Smith

Will is a senior trials manager at NIAB, with particular focus on the control of key arable weed species. He has recently started a PhD at the University of Lincoln looking at optimising the use of inter-row cultivations for black-grass control in narrow row crops. He is interested in developing agricultural systems that achieve sustainable weed control, whilst remaining productive and profitable.

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Kate Smith

Kate is a soil scientist at ADAS.

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Mark Fletcher

Mark completed my PhD in 2001 from the University of Reading. My research was conducted on Fragaria ananassa ‘Elsanta’ investigating how the environment and nutrition affected both the physiology of the plant and the flavour in the fruit. I then spent 2 years as a post doc working on spectrally filtering plastics and how they influenced plant growth and development in a range of species including bedding, lettuce and soft fruit.

 

While doing this I co-supervised a number of B.Sc, M.Sc and Ph.D students. Post this period I’ve worked for British Visqueen, Syngenta, Westland Horticulture and over the last 10 years I’ve been an agronomist advising on a range of crops from cereals, soft and top fruit, potatoes and vegetable production. My research interests include crop nutrition, physiology and disease management and how we can use these to be more efficient in the crops we produce.