University of Hertfordshire

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Description

Aims of project
1. To assess the impact of reduced and zero tillage on soil dwelling fauna of agronomic importance within cultivated arable land.
2. To identify management practice(s) of greatest benefit to key species and ecosystem services assessed in (1)

Brief project outline
The improvement of soil health will have a major impact on agricultural productivity. Soil-dwelling organisms within agro-ecosystems provide crucial ecosystem services for food production through contributions to nutrient recycling (detrivores such as earthworms), drought tolerance (mycorrhizal fungi), and pest mitigation (predators and parasitoids of pest organisms) (Giller et al., 1997; Lupwayi., 2001; McLaughlin and Mineau., 1995). Studies to date have, however, suffered from a lack of longer term management data, often being derived from treatments of short duration without consideration of longer-term impacts, or utililising small spatial scales rather than undertaking a ‘whole farm’ analysis (Knight et al., 2012). The project will assess the impact of reduced and zero tillage on soil dwelling fauna of agronomic importance within cultivated arable land, and then identify management practices of greatest benefit to key species and ecosystem services, based on the practices of participating Dorset (Cranborne Estate Farm) - mixed farm including arable reduced tillage) and Hertfordshire (Cherry Farm – arable zero tillage) farmers. Bayfordbury field station (small plot permanent grassland) and adjacent arable land (conventional cultivation) will provide additional reference data. Recommendations for management practices of greatest benefit to preserving beneficial organisms will be identified, and functions in the context of broader policy drivers to include sustainable agriculture, sustainable intensification, greenhouse gas mitigation, and climate change adaptation.
Short titleLow Tillage & soil biodiversity
StatusActive
Period4/09/173/09/20

ID: 12381717