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The science behind the agri-environment schemes

Beth Brockett, Phd Student, LEC. Photo: Anita Sedgewick Beth Brockett, Phd Student, LEC. Photo: Anita Sedgewick

It was during her project field work in Cumbria last summer that Beth Brockett, PhD candidate in the Lancaster Environment Centre, realised that farmers, farm environment advisors and scientists would benefit from more opportunities to discuss the science behind agri-environment schemes.

"I was talking to farmer Will Rawling about the work I was about to start on his farm to estimate soil carbon storage and nitrogen retention", said Beth, "and he commented that, although in his capacity as Chair of the Cumbrian Farmer Network he had attended many events about climate change and farming, no one had ever explained the science behind the process of soil carbon storage. I did my best to explain and in return Will explained about the processes involved in silage fermentation. We both commented that it was a shame farmers and scientists didn't talk like this more often and nine months later, with sponsorship from the British Ecological Society and the Ecosystems Knowledge Network, twelve farmers, ten farm environment advisors and nine academics met at Will's farm to discuss a range of scientific topics pertinent to livestock farming in the northwest."

At the event academics and PhD students from Lancaster University and Manchester University shared their research and the importance of it to farming. Whilst local farmers introduced a monitoring scheme, which aims to increase vegetation diversity on the common.

With reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy and changes to the UK's agri-environment schemes likely to consider managing farmland to deliver ecosystem services like absorbing greenhouse gases, these conversations benefit all parties.

"Thoroughly enjoyed today", commented farmer, Glenis Postlethwaite. "Personally, I would like a whole day on each topic."

Read Beth's full report of the day. For further information please contact Beth Brockett.

Fri 28 June 2013