News Archive

RICS Rural Conferences for the North

RICS are holding rural conferences on 3rd October at the Hexham Auction Mart and in Preston on 15th November at the Preston Marriot Hotel. Both conferences return with a refreshed agenda to equip participants with the right knowledge to leverage current opportunities for growth and resilience. The agenda includes the launch of the latest RICS Research paper on New Money in Rural Areas. Further sessions will look at the value of natural capital and the need to stay abreast of the latest developments in the ecosystem services arena. Participants will hear directly from leading authors of upcoming RICS guidance notes and have the opportunity to network with colleages across the region. To see the full programme and to book your place visit or


How can the UK Industrial Strategy support rural enterprise?
It is vital for the UK economy that the Governments new Industrial Strategy encourages growth in all sectors but research has shown that rural areas often risk being overlooked. Professor Jeremy Phillipson from Newcastle Universitys Centre for Rural Economy said In England alone rural areas contribute over a million enterprises, 3.5 million employees and 250 billion GVA, matching the output from the countrys ten leading cities outside London. But they could bring even more value to the UK in future and its important that the Industrial Strategy is implemented in a way that makes the most of this diverse sector. CRE Policy and Practice Note Rural Economies and the UK Industrial Strategy provides some pointers for policy.


Relu Newsletter - July 2018

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme July 2018 newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications


Do we need a new contract with landowners to provide public goods?
After Brexit, as the UK is no longer bound by the Common Agricultural Policy, what could be done to ensure the provision of public goods such as clean water, carbon storage, biodiversity and access to valued landscapes? In a new report The Land Management Contract: Design and Delivery in England the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) sets out proposals for how such a contract might be designed and implemented to deliver public goods and services that are valued by society, but are not adequately provided through the market.


Latest publications from The Farm Business Survey now available to buy

Three new publications are now available from the Farm Business Survey. A benchmarking guide to farming in Northern England analyses the profitability of farms across Northern England. The guide looks at the economic health of all farm types in Northumberland, Cumbria, Durham and Tyne and Wear over the period 2016/2017. Two national publications give an independent analysis of specific farm types in England during 2016/17. Hill Farming in England by David Harvey and Charles Scott provides an insight into how these iconic but economically vulnerable areas are faring and highlights their current dependence on agricultural subsidies. Organic Farming in England looks at a niche sector which is down from a peak of 391,76 ha in 2010 to 281,769 ha in 2016. In spite of a slight increase in conversion to organic production across the UK in 2016, the overall area of land under this system continues to fall. All of these publications are available to buy via the Newcastle University Webstore.

Production diseases and animal welfare

With intensive animal production on the rise, farmers have to be increasingly alert to problems created by so-called production diseases. These have implications for both profits and animal welfare. But how aware are consumers of these diseases and what interventions would they like to see in the food chain? Relu policy and practice note no 5 Production diseases and farm animal welfare: what does the public think? outlines the issues and looks at actions stakeholders could take.


Farm advisers could play a key role in implementing 25 Year Environment Plan

Farm advisers have specialist skills and local knowledge they can apply in their work with farmers and land managers and this will be more important than ever after Brexit. The 25 Year Environment Plan and new food and farming policy will have the potential to change significantly the way land is managed in the UK. CREs latest Relu policy and practice note on the role of farm advisers in post Brexit land management draws out some of the implications for key land-based advisory professions.


Relu Newsletter - April 2018

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme April 2018 newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


Reflections on Defra and Agricultural Economics Society Conference

Andrew Moxey, who is working with the Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University and research partners on the ESRC funded project Brexit: How might UK agriculture survive or thrive? reflects on the recent Defra/AES One-Day Conference Agricultural Trade & Brexit in the latest CRE blog.


Consultation on the future of food, farming and the environment after Brexit
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is carrying out a consultation on government proposals for future agricultural policy in England, following the UKs departure from the EU. The consultation paper Health and harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit is available on line and responses must be submitted by 8 May 2018 either on line, by emailing, or by post to:
Agriculture Consultation Team
1b - Future Farming Directorate
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Nobel House
17 Smith Square


Link up with other researchers and practitioners interested in sustainable intensification
Want to share ideas for engagement and collaboration on sustainable intensification of agriculture? The Sustainable Intensification Research Network has set up an information sharing tool. If you would like to make contact with others interested in this topic and maybe get involved in research in this area you can register using the link below. The information provided will be available on our website and you will be able to filter registrations by academic discipline, research area and capability, countries and funding opportunities. The form is easy to complete but you will need to agree with our Terms and Conditions. Please register your expertise here and soon you will be able to view list of registered partners.

Beefier profits from the dairy herd
Approximately half of all beef in England is a product of the dairy herd. Improving the quality of these cattle can bring economic benefits to everyone involved in the beef supply chain. In Beef Production from the Dairy Herd the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board covers issues such as improving genetics, better production systems and meeting market needs to boost profits.


Looking ahead in the grain market post Brexit
Competitiveness, improving performance, a collaborative supply chain, a consistent product and maximising niche opportunities are going to be key factors in making sales of UK grain count at home and abroad, according to new horizon market intelligence analysis from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. The report is available on line and may be downloaded from the AHDB website.


Relu Newsletter - January 2018

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme January 2018 newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


Developing a brighter future for farming and our countryside Defra consultation
Leaving the European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy provides us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design a domestic policy that fits the needs of the country.The Government has set out its vision for the future of food, farming and the environment in a consultation paper launched last week and wants to know what you think. Defra and Newcastle Universitys Centre for Rural Economy are holding a workshop to discuss some of the key Government proposals for building a thriving agricultural sector outside of the EU, at Hexham Auction Mart in Northumberland, on 20 March 2018.

This is one in a series of consultation events being held across the country to capture national and local views. Joining instructions and a detailed agenda will be sent to delegates in advance of the event. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to by 16 March 2018 or register here.

Health and Harmony: The Future for Food, Farming and the Environment in a Green Brexit consultation opened on Tuesday 27 February and will close on Tuesday 8 May. During this time, responses can be made online and you can discuss the consultation on twitter using #FutureFarming


Comparing Farm Sustainability: Introducing the new Sustainable Intensification (SI) Benchmarking Tool (Webinar)

The Universities of Exeter, Cambridge and Nottingham invite you to take part in a webinar, Comparing Farm Sustainability: Introducing the new Sustainable Intensification Benchmarking Tool, on Friday 8th December 2017, 10.30 - 11.30am GMT. As both policy and market interests in sustainability have grown, farmers are increasingly interested in the sustainability performance of their business and how this compares with similar farm businesses. Farmers eagerly await the development of a new British Agricultural Policy early indications from Defra Secretary Michael Gove indicate that the environment will feature heavily in such a policy. As part of the Defra-funded Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (SIP) programme, leading Farm Businesses Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Nottingham have developed a new SI Benchmarking Tool to help farmers compare their sustainability credentials. In this webinar, we show how you can use the new SI Benchmarking Tool (available at to compare your farms sustainability performance with similar farms, your county, or the national average for your farm type. We illustrate how to use the tool, and the data it can return on your businesss carbon footprint, nutrient balances, land use diversity and social interactions.This webinar is hosted by the University of Exeter. Please email to reserve your free place. A recording will be available after the event.


Relu Newsletter - October 2017

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme October 2017 newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications


Booking open now for RICS events in November
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has two high profile events scheduled for November. RICS Rural Mid-Session conference takes place in Battleby on 23 November 2017. Join the RICS team to discuss what role the rural profession can play to support Scotland's forests and to increase their value and contribution to the environment and the economy. Further sessions such as business rates and renewables will look at renewable energy schemes and what the rate reliefs and liability are likely to be for hydro, wind and solar projects. Download the agenda and book now via the RICS website. The RICS Rural Conference is scheduled for 30 November 2017 at Brockholes Nature Reserve, Preston, to provide a platform to learn about and discuss the latest developments that will affect the rural sector. This event will offer a timely opportunity to consider what a favourable outcome from Brexit could look like and how to achieve this. The agenda is available and you can book via the RICS website.


People and the land: understanding the family farm

Sally Shorthall, Duke of Northumberland Professor of Rural Economy, will be giving her inaugural lecture in the Newcastle University Insight Public Lecture series on Thursday 16 November 2017, 17:30 - 18:45 in the Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building, Newcastle University. All are welcome. When we think about farming, we tend to think of the mechanics of agriculture, yet it is people who farm, and in most of Europe it is families. This lecture highlights the need for a social science perspective to consider how family dynamics shape farming practices. It considers how the family and farm interact, with examples of ageing farmers, new entrants, and gender inequalities. An understanding of the social dimensions of farming is key to a successful industry.


Yorkshire Agricultural Society host free event on bio pesticides

The Farmer-Scientist Network of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society are hosting a free event in Harrogate on Thursday 23rd November for farmers, agronomists and industry on bio pesticides and alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides for cereals. The event includes speakers from Eurofins, Biorationale and Bayer and will include presentations on the spring wheat trials and the second season of trials looking at the impact of biologically based crop protection products and winter wheat. The event will be held at Pavilions of Harrogate, 6pm until 8:30pm and includes a complimentary hot supper. More details on the event and how to register can be found here.

Sustainable Intensification at the Landscape Scale: An Introduction to the Landscape Typology Tool - webinar
Free webinar - Thursday 2nd November, 2017 1:00pm (GMT). Managing farmland to increase farm output and competitiveness, whilst protecting the countryside and enhancing environment and social benefits defines the work of the Sustainable Intensification Research Platform. Funded by Defra and the Welsh Government, the Platform has produced a tool to assist in planning and decision making for Sustainable Intensification at the landscape-scale. In this webinar, which is launching the Tool nationally, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology provide an introduction to the tool and its varied capabilities and applications.
The webinar will be presented by Professor Jack Cosby (CEH) and Chaired by Siobhan Sherry (Defra).This event is co-hosted by the Ecosystems Knowledge Network with the Sustainable Intensification Research Network. Registration is required to join this event. If you have not registered, please do so now here.


Relu Newsletter - July 2017

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme July 2017 newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


RICS Rural Conference at Hexham Auction Mart
RICS Rural Conference returns to Hexham on 11 October 2017 to provide a platform to learn about and discuss the latest developments that will affect the rural sector. Although it will be some time before we know the full implications of Brexit, this event offers a timely opportunity to consider what a favourable outcome from Brexit could look like and how to achieve this. Topics will include:
-Understanding the impact on environmental law and policy after Brexit
-The need for bespoke rural housing policies to address rural housing challenges
-What type of properties will be affected by the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards which come into force from April 2018
-The Digital Economy Act
Download the full agenda from the RICS website


Explore the role of farm advisors in landscape-scale sustainable intensification, with Landbridge.

A workshop for all advisory professionals working with land managers on Wednesday 4 October at AHDB, Stoneleigh Park. Nature doesnt stop at the farm fence. We are used to the idea of sharing machinery and equipment, but who is going to facilitate the coordination needed for landscape-scale planning that could enable sustainable intensification to increase yields, while also protecting the environment and maximising natural resources such as biodiversity, pollination services, water resources, iconic landscapes and carbon storage? Farm advisors, as independent practitioners working with farmers across geographical areas, could play a key role. In a workshop facilitated by Landbridge as part of the Sustainable Intensification Platform (SIP), land advisors from across the professions will have an opportunity to hear about the work of the SIP and explore the opportunities and benefits of a coordinated approach using a newly-developed landscape typology tool.This free workshop will be hosted by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board at their headquarters at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire and will be of interest to all the advisory professions including land agents, ecologists, and environmental consultants. Booking is now open. Full programme can be viewed here. To reserve a place email


1.5m available from BBSRC and NERC to support sustainable agriculture projects involving researchers and industry
BBSRC and NERC invite applications to attend an interactive strategic workshop (sandpit) to develop proposals for research and research translation projects. Successful projects will bring together multidisciplinary teams to address challenges involved in sustainable intensification of agriculture in the UK. The projects will be supported through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club (SARIC) which funds projects within the themes of: resilient and robust crop and livestock production systems and predictive capabilities for sustainable agriculture. Presentations from the industrial members of SARIC will help to stimulate the development of project ideas. Sandpit participants will develop and present a project idea in a multidisciplinary team to an expert panel on the final day. Full proposals will be invited for submission through Je-S in November 2017. Reasonable costs for travel and accommodation will be met for participants.Apply on line to attend by 4 pm on 11 September 2017. Further information about SARIC is available on the BBSRC website


Farm business survey reports latest trends
The Farm Business Income of arable farms fell to its lowest level in ten years, at 172GBP per hectare for Cereals farms and 248GBP per hectare for General Cropping farms according to a new report from the Farm Business Survey. At the same time profitability of specialist poultry farm businesses reduced by 16% in the 2015/16 financial year, with average profit as measured by Farm Business Income (FBI) falling on a per business basis from 126,839GBP in 2014/15, to 106,670GBP in 2015/16. Full details are available on the Farm Business Survey website in the reports Crop Production in England 2015/2016 and Poultry Production in England 2015/16. Reports from across the industry are available on the website.


Expert welcomes new funding announcement for peatlands
UK peatlands are wild, often remote places and many do not look as attractive as they might, admits Professor Mark Reed in his latest blog for Newcastle University Institute for Sustainability. All too often peat bogs have suffered extensive damage, either through extraction of material for gardening products or attempts to drain the land for agricultural purposes. But these are important places, providing not only iconic and beautiful habitats for other species, but also vital resources for our own survival. This is why he welcomes the announcement of additional funding for their restoration.


RICS Rural Mid-Session Conference for Scotland-book now
Following the results of the EU referendum last year and upcoming policy changes in Scotland, what could be the likely implications for the rural sector? What challenges and opportunities lie ahead and how can we ensure the continued prosperity of the Scotlands rural economy? While it will be months before we know the full Brexit ramifications, the Rural Mid-Session Conference will provide a platform to discuss challenges the sector is facing and what contributions your profession can make to the rural economy. This event will take place from 9.30-16.40 hrs on Thursday 18 May 2017 at SNH Battleby, Perth, Scotland and includes:
-A keynote address led by Andrew Thin will provide an outline of the key priorities of the Scottish Land Commission and the progress on land reform, while reviewing policy and legislation
-The Scottish Assessors Association will cover the re-introduction of shootings while outlining their current activities and information required from assessors before carrying out an estate evaluation
-Unlocking Scotland's potential to drive growth: How can the Planning Bill deliver more? John McNairney, Chief Planner from The Scottish Government explores further
To view the full programme and to register your place today, visit


Relu Newsletter - April 2017

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme April 2017 newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


New Agri-Brexit Coalition will work together to ensure positive outcomes for the industry

Eight organisations and trade associations involved in agribusiness are bringing their expertise together to represent the interests of the industry as negotiations on Brexit progress. The Agri-Brexit Coalition has been founded by: Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA), Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB), Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), Crop Protection Association (CPA), Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA), National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC), and National Office of Animal Health (NOAH). The Coalition Coordinator is David Caffall, who is Chief Executive of AIC. This new group will focus on key issues in Brexit negotiations which are pertinent to the UK trading and supplying of goods, services, technology and advice to UK farmers. Their aim is to achieve a positive outcome to negotiations for UK Agriculture as well as the EU and the wider world.


Leading academic calls for more effective rural policy post Brexit

Could Brexit provide an opportunity to redesign more effective support for entrepreneurial rural communities? Sally Shortall is Duke of Northumberland Professor of Rural Economy at Newcastle University and she comes from a farming family. In our latest Landbridge blog she explains why she would welcome a more holistic approach to rural policy in a post Brexit world.


Funding opportunities for agriculture and food businesses in new 15m Innovate UK competition
Innovate UK has just launched its latest 15 million GBP round of funding for health and life sciences with a focus on agriculture, food and healthcare. The funding is for projects that address technical or commercial challenges and the aim is to increase competitiveness for UK small and medium-sized enterprises. The KTN Agri-food Team is particularly keen to encourage agri-food industries to apply for this funding, so is hosting briefing events with a particular emphasis on opportunities for this sector in Edinburgh on 14 February and Birmingham on 16 February. Register now for one of these events to get expert help and advice from KTN's Agri-food Team, network with like-minded delegates, and meet potential collaborative partners. Grants can be awarded to a consortium, led by a business or a Research and Technology Organisation (non-academic), working with other organisations or research groups. All consortia must involve at least one SME. More information is available on the Innovate UK website and the closing date for applications is 12 April 2017.


Industry should prepare for change on plant protection products
Changing the law on use of plant production products is unlikely to be the first item on the UK Governments agenda post Brexit, but the industry should be preparing for regulatory change in the medium term, according to the AHDBs latest Horizon report. What will happen to Plant Health and Plant Protection Product regulations after Brexit is now available on line and hard copies of this Horizon report or any of the others in the series can be ordered by emailing:


Relu Newsletter - January 2017

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme January 2017 newsletter iincludes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


The value of farmer-led knowledge exchange
The increased integration of research with practice is making a significant contribution to the future success of UK crop production, delegates learned at the tenth AHDB Agronomists Conference. The conference, held in Peterborough before Christmas, highlighted the value of farmer-led knowledge exchange initiatives and the importance of combining increasingly limited funds and resources. A briefing by RuSource now available on OpenFields provides a useful summary of the discussion.

The impact of Brexit on protected food names.
In their latest publication the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (ADHB) analyses the impact of leaving the EU on the UKs ability to designate foodstuffs under the three existing EU Geographical Indication schemes, which were set up so producers could differentiate their products and improve their competitiveness and profitability. Products such as West Country Beef, Welsh Lamb, Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, Scottish Wild Salmon and Stilton Cheese may still get EU protection from imitations following Brexit provided the UK reciprocates for European products. To register non-EU products they must already be protected in their country of origin – which means the UK would need to set up its own national approval scheme.




Your chance to have a say on AHDB strategies
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is inviting comments on their new corporate strategy and sector strategies. These are designed to identify areas where the AHDB thinks they could make the biggest difference in improving competitiveness and productivity in the industry. The strategies result from a review they carried out last winter with the industry and take into account the challenges and opportunities that Brexit could now present. The documents may be found on the AHDB website and your comments and feedback should be emailed to or posted to Natalie Reynolds, Strategy Team, AHDB, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2TL. The consultation closes at 17.00 hrs on Monday 9 January 2017.


The changing landscape and sustainable intensification
In the latest issue of the Sustainable Intensification Platform newsletter SIPScene the research team brings up to date news and views from their project ranging from natural flood management to the best principles for designing decision support tools.

Rural Business Research report brings latest intelligence from farms in England

Rural Business Research (RBR) reports that farmers are very keen that their voice is heard both during the Brexit negotiations and future agriculture policy discussions. They urge the NFU to be very proactive and for Defra to seek farmer views on the future direction of UK agriculture. In their latest report RBR collates views from farm businesses across England about the future following the referendum vote, as well as the current business position for different types of farming enterprise. See their Intelligence Reports from the Regions for this twice-yearly round up.


How can farmers manage low birthweight pigs profitably?
Birthweight and early management of pigs affects lifetime performance and is key to profitability. In the latest briefing note published by Newcastle Universitys School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Professor Ilias Kyriazakis outlines recent research which shows that low birthweight pigs could have the capacity to catch up with their littermates and what management techniques could help.

Whats the outlook for UK livestock exports post Brexit?
UK agriculture is part of a global trading environment therefore the trade negotiations for future relationships with the EU as well as those with third countries, are crucial to support a thriving domestic food and farming sector. Critical to the understanding of the best approach is knowledge of the major trading routes for the major agricultural products. In a helpful briefing for ADAS David Moorhouse highlights major trading routes for each of the main livestock sectors, summarises trading facts and figures for imports and exports and highlights some of the key factors that will be important for UK livestock producers during the trade negotiations.

Princes Countryside Fund Forum on supporting family farms and rural communities
The Princes Countryside Fund will be holding its popular Forum on Tuesday 6 December at Church House, Westminster, London. Sponsored by M&S the day-long event will bring together rural campaigners, community groups, not for profit organisations and education providers to explore the most effective ways to support the long-term viability of family farms and rural communities. The Forum is open to organisations committed to securing a sustainable future for the countryside and interested in applying for, or already in receipt of, grants from the Fund. There will also be an opportunity to meet with the team from the Fund to get advice on future applications. To find out more contact Clare Crookenden on 0207 566 6615 or email Tickets are available via Eventbrite.


Farming land for water: does better catchment management hold the key to managing flood risk?
Flood risk management in the UK is badly skewed in favour of short-term, reactive decisions that ignore the central role of land management in building resilience to flooding. The most recent floods show how effective natural flood management methods, such as tree planting near rivers, can be. At the same time, new Green Alliance research shows that in England much of the public spending that goes into a catchment is increasing flood risk and then dealing with its consequences rather than building long-term resilience. At an event on Monday 28 November, 10:30 am-12:00 noon, at Goldsmiths Centre in London an expert panel to discuss questions such as: Is catchment-level management the best insurance against increasing flood risk? How could post-Brexit land and agriculture policies help improve our resilience to flooding? What does the science tell us about natural flood management? Is it being over-hyped, or does it actually work?
To register email Elena Perez

Keeping up to date on Brexit at Anglia Rural Consultants consortium event
Business for Change an Anglia Rural Consultants Seminar for managers and rural professionals, will be held from 9.30 am to 12.15 pm on 30 November at NFU offices, Willie Snaith Road, Newmarket. The programme will consider opportunities and issues of Brexit for farmers and policy makers. Speakers include Kit Papworth of L F Papworth Ltd, European policy consultant Peter Fane and financial advisor Jamie Gwatkin and the Chair will be Robert Sheasby, the Regional Director for the National Farmers Union in East Anglia.Tickets (including lunch) available via Eventbrite


Relu Newsletter - October 2016

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme October 2016 Newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


Being a good listener and speaking a common language

In the latest landbridge blog, Susannah Bolton, Director of Knowledge Exchange at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, reflects on the recent Landbridge SIP workshop, which gave her a useful insight into how sustainable intensification, or maybe these kinds of practices under a different name - could make a real difference on the farm and what land based professionals need in order to make this happen.


Heritage value of parks and gardens
Recent research has shown that parks and gardens have considerable heritage value for people, suggesting that their appreciation extends beyond obvious aesthetic and/or recreational values. These essential environmental and cultural assets provide areas for recreation, leisure, and social activity; contribute to our health, local economies and wellbeing; offer space for nature to flourish; and enhance the environmental resilience of the built environment. LWEC PPN 36 Taking account of heritage value of parks and gardens considers the implications of this for managers of these important open spaces.


Season and method is important for safer application of slurry
Dairy farming generates large volumes of liquid manure - or slurry - which is ultimately recycled to agricultural land as a valuable source of plant nutrients. Research carried out by the Governance of Livestock Disease project as part of the Relu programme show a significant increase in faecal indicator organism (FIO) persistence (measured by the half-life of E. coli and intestinal enterococci) when slurry was applied to grassland via shallow injection and significantly higher decay rates for FIOs applied to grassland in spring relative to summer and autumn. Significant differences in the behaviour of E. coli and intestinal enterococci over time were observed, with E. coli half-lives influenced more strongly by season of application relative to the intestinal enterococci population. While shallow injection of slurry can reduce agricultural GHG emissions to air it can also prolong the persistence of FIOs in soil, potentially increasing the risk of their subsequent transfer to water. The research is published in the Journal of Environmental Management.


How can dynamic models of macronutrient behaviour be developed and applied to guide environmental policy?

Human activities such as industrial production, transport, agriculture, urbanisation, domestic detergent use and sewage treatment interfere with natural macronutrient cycles, unbalancing them, with unintended and largely undesirable environmental consequences. These macronutrient elements - carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus - are central to life processes and their biogeochemical cycles are intertwined in air, land and water. Combatting these effects requires policies that address the future impact of excess nutrients but how can policymakers address the problem? LWEC Policy and Practice Note no 35 The unbalanced cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus: national scale forecasting outlines the latest evidence on how models can be used to help policymakers and environmental regulators to address this problem by demonstrating how multiple pollutants interact and alter in response to changes in climate, land use and atmospheric pollution.

SIP-landbridge workshop - Sustainable intensification: what role for advisers?
As farmers are required to produce more and more from their land the skills and knowledge of the farm adviser are becoming more important than ever. Sustainable intensification is an important approach for farmers and all land professionals but how practical or useful are the techniques and tools being developed, and how willing will clients be to adopt new systems? In association with the Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (SIP), landbridge hosted a workshop at Nafferton Farm in Northumberland on 8th September 2016, providing opportunities for advisers to explore these issues and learn more about the SIP. With a keynote from Michael Winter and excellent presentations from SIP Study Farm leads Gillian Butler, Chris Stoate and Dave Chadwick, the day also featured a farm walk to examine the interventions being tested at Nafferton. The workshop included lively breakout sessions where advisers, their professional associations, representatives of agricultural and ancillary industries, researchers and knowledge exchange specialists considered how advisory professionals might use the findings emerging from the SIP and further refine these based on their own knowledge and expertise in providing advice to clients. Findings from the event will be used to generate recommendations for a forthcoming SIP policy note on the role of advisers in sustainable intensification.


RICS Rural Conference: preferential rate for landbridge members

RICS Rural Mid-Session conference takes place on 10th November 2016 at SNH Battleby in Perth and RICS is offering landbridge members the opportunity to attend at a preferential rate (70GBP rather than 108GBP plus VAT). The full programme and further details can be found here. Topics being discussed include the impact of Brexit on Scotlands economy and the implications of the Land Reform Act. If you are interested in attending, please contact at landbridge to obtain the promotional code.

New research shows South West farmers concerned by Brexit
Farmers have expressed concern about the unknown implications of Britain leaving the European Union, according to a new survey by experts at the University of Exeter. Almost half (45.8 per cent) of those questioned said the interests of British agriculture will be best served by the UK remaining a member of the EU. More than a third (35.5 per cent) indicated that it would be in the interest of British agriculture to leave the EU. The remaining 18.7 per cent were unable to give an answer. If this group is removed the proportion in favour of remain is 56.6 per cent while 43.4 per cent favour leaving. The 1,251 farmers who took part in the postal survey, by the University of Exeters Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP), were also asked about future Government financial support for agriculture. Only 17.1 per cent thought it would remain at broadly similar levels in the event of a 'Brexit', while 44.5 per cent thought it would not, and 38.4 per cent didnt know. LEEP Director Professor Matt Lobley said: 'This is a robust survey of the views of farmers. The 1,251 respondents represent approximately 5 per cent of all farms in the South West and almost 9 per cent of the regions farmland.These findings suggest that some farmers feel the Common Agricultural Policy has an important role in supporting their work, and that they are concerned leaving the European Union could leave them more economically vulnerable than they are now'. LEEP Director Professor Michael Winter OBE said: 'The UK is a highly urbanised nation. Our research shows that farmers are sceptical about whether the UK government outside the EU would maintain the same level of support for farmers as under the EU. History suggests that politicians would prefer to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.'

The key role of farm advisers in sustainable intensification
As farmers are required to produce more and more from their land the skills and knowledge of the farm adviser are becoming more important than ever. Sustainable intensification is an important approach for farmers and all land professionals but how practical or useful are the techniques and tools being developed, and how willing will clients be to adopt new systems? In association with the SIP, landbridge will be hosting a workshop at Nafferton Farm in Northumberland on 8th September 2016, with opportunities for advisers to explore these issues and learn more about the Sustainable Intensification Research Platform. For further details please see here or to book your place, contact Amy Proctor at landbridge by 12th August 2016

Biobed reduces pesticides by over 90% after vehicle wash-down
Research by the University of East Anglia, in partnership with the Environment Agency, farm managers and precision farming experts Farm Systems & Environment, found that a biobed reduced pesticide concentrations by 91.6%, thus protecting waterways. A biobed is a pit filled with a 1:2:1 mix of compost, straw and topsoil. Contaminated machinery washings were contained in an enclosed wash-down facility and then run through the biobed, where bacteria and fungi break down the pesticides. In total, 86 different pesticides were detected in the system and the biobed was effective at reducing concentrations of them all. The biobed cost about £6k to set up and should last for around 5 years before the mix needs to be renewed. The research was carried out by the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment Project with financial support for pesticides analysis from the Environment Agency. For more information contact Kevin Hiscock


Brexit threats and opportunities
Brexit presents both opportunities and threats for farming and the agricultural industries, says political scientist Professor Wyn Grant, in our Landbridge blog, while he also questions the received wisdom on how farmers voted in the June referendum and looks ahead to likely changes in farm subsidies and potential challenges arising in trade agreements and the labour market.


Building resilience across the energy-food-water-nexus
The concept of the energy-food-water nexus captures interconnections, dependencies and linkages between production and use of environment, energy, food, and water resources. Academics, policy makers and practitioners can learn from each other to shape and build more resilient responses to climate and weather related shocks. LWEC Policy and Practice Note No 34 reflects on these interconnections and how policymakers need to respond to them.

How water in developing countries supplies UK shopping baskets
Our dependence on overseas water resources depends on what we eat, where it comes from, and how it was produced. Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, for example, may increase our reliance on water resources in already water-stressed places like Spain and South Africa. LWEC Policy and Practice Note No 33 looks at the demands that imported food we eat in the UK makes on water resources across the globe and what the implications are for policy makers and businesses.


Relu Newsletter - July 2016

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme July 2016 Newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


Urban meadows can be beneficial for people and wildlife
Access to nature is beneficial to human health and well-being, yet over 80% of the UK population now live in urban areas and experience nature as 'urban green infrastructure', a mosaic of greenspaces including parks, gardens and semi-natural areas. Replacing some mown grass areas with designed urban meadows has been shown to enhance the value of individual greenspaces for both people and wildlife. Local authorities and other organisations that are responsible for management of public space are in a position to make this change. LWEC Policy and Practice Note no 32 draws on the latest research on the best approaches for local authorities and other public land managers.


Peatland Strategy conference
'Creating a Legacy for Peatlands', the 2016 conference of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme will take place from 29 November to 1 December at the Shropshire Conference Centre. For details visit the website or email


Information on forest risks now available on line, a website hosted by the University of Edinburgh and developed by Dr Genevieve Patenaude and Susan Davies with funding from NERC is now available. It provides information from UK research on threats from natural disturbances to forests worldwide, including wind, fire, pests and disease and drought. The website is designed to help anyone involved in risk assessment and risk management, including land and forestry advisers, insurers, forest owners and managers, consultants and investors. It will be updated regularly and the information is provided free of charge but it would be very helpful if you can inform if you make use of any information in a professional context. This is so that a record can be kept about impacts from the project in order to secure continued funding.


Will diamondback moth threaten brassica crops?
Diamondback moths have been crossing the English Channel over the past fortnight in far greater numbers than usual and there have been some alarming headlines in the media. In an article in The Conversation Newcastle PhD student Callum Macgregor explains what threats this 'super moth' might actually pose for brassica crops.


Spelt and rye information session, including updated yield results
Newcastle University Nafferton Ecological Farming Group will be hosting its next spelt and rye information session on 2 July 2016. The day will include updated yield results from the first year of the trial, a tour of the current field trials (including new quinoa and buckwheat trials) and updates on nutritional analyses of cereals and a visit to Gilchester Organic Farm flour production facilities. This will be the third in a series of informative events focussed on the spelt and rye field trials, which are components of the EU-funded Healthy Minor Cereals (HMC) project and the DEFRA-funded Sustainable Intensification Platform (SIP). HMC is focussed on enhancing exploitation of minor cereal species while SIP is a multi-disciplinary collaborative platform designed to explore the opportunities and risks for sustainable intensification. With support from Gilchesters Organics, Nafferton Ecological Farming Group is currently trialling four different varieties of spelt and rye under different fertilisation regimes and invites you to learn more about this trial and its implications for cereal growers, processors and bakers. The session will begin at 10:30 am at Nafferton Farm (NE43 7XD), with coffee and tea available from 10:00 am and barbecue lunch is included.  Contact Amelia Magistrali for more information and bookings, email by 25 June.


Taking the threat of coastal storm surges into account
With climate change towns, cities and energy infrastructure in the UK coastal zone are under increasing threat from sea-level rise and intermittent storms. Storm surges are particularly dangerous due to their extreme water level and large waves. Strengthening and raising the height of sea defences is an immediate option, but how do local authorities and other decision makers identify when, where and if to take such actions, and what alternatives can be considered to increase our resilience to climate change? LWEC Policy and Practice Note no 30 draws on the latest research.

Balancing demands for power and carbon reduction targets
Fulfilling UK objective of both ensuring resilient infrastructure is in place to meet future energy needs and the country can meet its carbon emission reduction targets poses challenges. The use of low carbon, renewable energy technologies, such as wind turbines and hydropower, is expected to grow. However, the supply from these technologies may be periodic and irregular while demand for power is increasing. LWEC policy and practice note no 31 looks at the latest research and makes recommendations for decision makers and energy suppliers.

SIP Newsletter: Edition 3 Spring 2016
To hear the latest news and activities from the Sustainable Intensification Platform click here for the Spring 2016 edition. This issue highlights the ongoing work of the SIP community both in individual aspects of research, and in finding new ways of bringing about SI on farm and in the wider landscape. For further information about the project visit: or follow on twitter on the @SIPResearch


A vets view
Vet Jonathan Statham calls for more joined up leadership and more creative thinking to ensure the future of our livestock industry and UK food security in our Landbridge blog.

Celebrating 125 years of agricultural research and teaching at Newcastle
The School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University is celebrating 125 years of agricultural research and teaching at Newcastle. The first Chair of Agriculture was established in 1891 at what was then the College of Science, (later to become Armstrong College) so this predates the university itself by some considerable margin. In1992, with the establishment of the Centre for Rural Economy, social science was brought into the mix. During the coming academic year they will be celebrating with a series of events and seminars. Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Professor Rob Edwards said: 'On the 125th anniversary of agriculture at Newcastle there are many parallels in the challenges faced by UK farmers then and now: a difficult trading environment, a need for improved productivity and the endless need for change and innovation. The original Department was founded on its links with the industry and, just like our academic forebears, we continue the tradition of conducting research that makes a difference and of training the next generation of farming practitioners. The one difference is that our current approach to training and research extends beyond farming to include agribusiness, the food supply chain and healthy diets, and the links with rural enterprise. With that integrated vision in mind, we look forward to another 125 years of delivering innovation and new skills to the sector.'


Causes of piglet neonatal mortality
Piglet mortality is one of the main issues of concern for the pig industry. Crushing and stillbirths are considered as the most important causes of neonatal mortality. However further research is needed to develop better strategies for reducing piglet deaths by identifying the risk for each cause of mortality, and recognizing individual farm characteristics and their contribution to the problem. In a new report, PROHEALTH researchers have investigated the different causes of piglet neonatal mortality.


Foot health in broiler breeders
In intensive poultry production systems good foot pad health is crucial to ensuring a high level of animal welfare and high production yields. Often foot pad health is seen to decline over the production period and may subsequently result in increased mortality due to septicaemic infections, or a decreased egg production due to pain and discomfort. The most frequently isolated bacteria from these infections are staphylococci and enterococci, which need a port of entry to enter the blood stream and cause disease of the host. PROHEALTH researchers have produced a report on their investigation of the role of foot health in relation to development of disease caused by staphylococcus and enterococcus bacteria in broiler breeders.


Production diseases: the costs to poultry producers
Although it is understood that production diseases can be costly to poultry farms, the exact magnitude of these costs is not well quantified. To shed light on these costs, recent studies were reviewed. Many of these diseases occur persistently in poultry production and can become more severe in high intensity production systems and/or under poor management. These diseases incurred costs due to lost output and increased production costs, such as higher feed costs, but also costs of interventions to prevent or cure them. Some of these diseases were found to have a substantial negative impact on farms profit margins, in addition to impacts on bird health and welfare.

Hill and Lowland Grazing Livestock reports published
Rural Business Research (RBR) has published two new reports on Hill Farming in England and Lowland Grazing Livestock Production in England. These reports are drawn from the latest results from Farm Business Survey (FBS) 2014/15 data and cover farm revenues and farm business income. Mark Fogerty, RBR at Duchy College, commented 'Without the Single Payment Scheme, the average Lowland Livestock Grazing farm, in England, for 2014/15 would be making a Farm Business Income of 2,270GBP'.


IPBES seeks experts from a range of disciplines and traditional knowledge
The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) is calling for experts to join the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Thematic assessment on the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity. In addition to this call invites nomination of fellows to the IPBES Fellowship Pilot Programme, to participate in the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IPBES is a science-policy interface established to provide a robust evidence base, together with the necessary tools and local capacity, to help decision makers around the world identify solutions to pressures on global ecosystems and loss of biodiversity; thereby securing long term human wellbeing and sustainable development. Experts are needed from a number of disciplines: natural science, social science, economics, data and modelling and traditional knowledge. For more information about IPBES go to the website and for applications a form is available on line. If you have any queries about the call email . Please note that the deadline for submitting the online application form is 5 May 2016.

ESRC report explores effects of referendum vote
An international group of academics has produced an ESRC funded review of the academic evidence on how EU membership has influenced UK policies, systems of decision making and environmental quality. It also explores what the effects might be of a vote either to Remain or Leave the EU. The purpose of this impartial review of the evidence is to explain, not to campaign for either side. By making the findings of existing academic research more widely available, the authors want to help voters make up their own minds. A summary of the report can be freely downloaded from the project website, which also hosts copies of the full report (which runs to 14 chapters and over 60,000 words) and other sources of factual information about the EU. For further information about the ESRCs UK in a Changing Europe Initiative, go to:

Gardening sustainably for the future

Gardening is an important activity for many people in the UK. The latest policy and practice note from LWEC looks at how the horticultural industry might help promote more sustainable garden practices.


Relu Newsletter - April 2016

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme April 2016 Newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


New centre on evaluation of UK energy, water, environment and food policies
A national research centre, initiated by a consortium of leading UK bodies, will be developing new ways to measure the effectiveness of domestic policies on energy, water, environment and food (the nexus), and how they affect wider society. Led from the University of Surrey, the centre will also involve Cranfield University, Durham University, Newcastle University, University of Warwick, University of York and Risk Solutions. Additional international co-investigators will be from the European Academy of Technology and Innovation Assessment and Arizona State University. CECAN has been backed by 2.45GBP million of funding provided by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Environment Agency, and the Food Standards Agency. For more information contact Nigel Gilbert email


New dynamic land use planning tool
Ground-breaking software launched by the Sustainable Intensification Platform aims to help policy makers and local decision-makers prioritise identified land-use practices which will maximise the economic outputs and environmental and social benefits across areas of land (known as sustainable intensification). The web-based Dynamic Typology Tool consists of a database of over 90 pre-existing maps, which show the diversity of farm systems and the opportunity for improvement that can be delivered by sustainable intensification practices. The user can adjust the weighting of these maps in line with national or local priorities. This produces a map of the local opportunity for sustainable intensification in comparison with the overall national picture. The tool, created by experts at ADAS, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Fera, has been demonstrated at a number of stakeholder workshops. Feedback will be used to refine the tool before it will become available on the web to land-use planners and decision-makers. For more information, please contact Gavin Huggett, SIP2 Project Manager (e: and follow the project on Twitter @SIPResearch


New centre for crop health and protection
A new Centre for Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) has been announced under the governments Agri-Tech strategy, launched in 2013 to ensure that its investment in agriculture delivers material benefits for society and the economy in the UK and overseas. CHAPs consortium partners include Bayer CropScience, Farmcare, Frontier Agriculture, Dow AgroSciences, Tesco, Stockbridge Technology and Unilever, alongside AHDB, CABI, Cranfield University, FERA Science Ltd, Newcastle University, ADAS, The Met Office, Warwick University, Campden BRI and Rothamsted Research. CHAP will enable these organisations, alongside retailers, processors, agronomists and manufacturers, to share resources, optimise return on research and development costs, reduce waste and accelerate the registration process for new products.


What makes an animal healthy?
Improving animal health is imperative to managing food security, environmental change, and farm business objectives. It also has important implications for human health. However, different people hold different views on what it means for an animal to be healthy. The Centre for Rural Economys Landbridge network and Kings College London organised a workshop funded by the Welcome Trust to review stakeholders understandings of livestock health within different farming systems, and to identify the key people involved and the barriers that need to be overcome. The findings will feed into a programme of research to develop a more integrated approach to livestock health, welfare and productivity. For more information contact Abigail Woods .

In or out?  It all depends...

So much debate, so many arguments and it's only March.  Will anything be clearer by the time the referendum on UK membership of the EU actually takes place in June?  Will the British people have a clear idea of what they want to achieve by means of their vote?  Or will they be responding to a "gut feeling"? As arguments about whether Britain would be better off in our out of the EU multiply, it all depends say Dr Carmen Hubbard and Professor David Harvey from Newcastle University's Centre for Rural Economy in our latest Landbridge blog.


What is life like for a hands on pig farmer in 2016?

Kate Morgan reports from the front line of production in our Landbridge blog and airs some very personal views about the current state of the industry, the EU and the kind of life she wants for her pigs.


Surveying our soil health

Soil is more than just the ground beneath our feet.  It provides many of the ecosystem services that sustain life: it helps to grow our plants, filters our water and is a major global sink of carbon.  Soil is also home to a rich diversity of organisms that drive the biogeochemical processes upon which the functioning of the biosphere depends.  Despite its importance, our understanding not only of how soil performs those multiple functions, but also its ability to adapt to land use and climate change, is relatively limited.  At the same time, soils are being degraded worldwide.  There remains an urgent need to improve our understanding of soils and translate that knowledge in order to help inform policy makers and practitioners on the sustainable management of soil.  Taken together these challenges form the basis of the Soil Security Programme, a five year research programme led by NERC and funded by NERC, BBSRC, Defra and the Scottish Government.  The first step is to define the current key soil health issues and potential metrics for monitoring soil health and for this reason they are carrying out a survey  which only takes 5 to10 minutes to complete so please pass this link on to your colleagues in the relevant sectors who you think will be interested in participating.  Please note that responses have to be made by Friday the 1st of April.


How can managing the landscape help to support and nourish pollinators?

Pollinators are vital for the production of many food crops and so critically important to ecosystems and human wellbeing but there is evidence that these important species are declining.  Reduced availability of pollen and nectar may be a major cause of this decline and how we manage farmland is an important factor.  Two Policy and Practice Notes from the LWEC series - PPN 26 Managing the landscape to optimise pollinator nutrition; and PPN 27 Managing farmed landscapes for pollinating insects outline the latest evidence and provide pointers for future action.


With better support could rural areas drive economic recovery?

RICS Policy Manager Tamara Hooper urges decision makers at all levels to support rural areas and realise their potential for driving economic recovery in our Landbridge blog.


Talking the talk on ecosystems services

Stakeholder engagement and involvement in decision making is key to the Ecosystem Approach but this involves working with a new language and philosophy to understand and value the natural world.  LWEC Policy and Practice Note 23, ''Using ecosystem services in public engagement and dialogue on the natural environment'' provides pointers for organisations undertaking these processes.

Farming and Water Action workshop in March

Earlier this year, the Farming and Water Action Group of the UK Water Partnership published a series of reports that explored the links between water and food production and the challenges for delivering both food and water to society in a sustainable way. They identified issues, evidence gaps and potential solutions and made recommendations for policy-makers, industry, practitioners and academia. The UK Water Partnership is now planning a workshop which will be held in Reading on 10 March 2016 to consider how these recommendations can be addressed. This will include:

  • Identifying barriers to reaching goals formulated from report recommendations (which included improved long-term agri-water  planning, greater supply chain resilience to extreme events and integrated modelling) and how these might be overcome;
  • Learning from current best practice (showcasing current case studies);
  • Identifying innovation, translation, communication and research gaps; and
  • Providing an opportunity for different stakeholder groups to engage around common issues on water and farming.

Details and how to register will be available soon but please mark the date in your diary if you are interested.

What do the uplands do for us?

The uplands provide us with goods essential to life, including drinking water, climate control and landscapes that benefit our state of mind.  Their hydrological processes and effects need to be understood and effectively managed.  ''Upland Water in the Rose Bowl'' on 19 January 2016 in Leeds is supported by NERC, the British Hydrological Society, Upland Hydrology Group and water@leeds and will provide an opportunity for information exchange and discussion on water colour and carbon, natural flood risk management and the water industry and the upland economy.  To book for this event, please contact Tim Fuller at the BHS or use the on line formMore information and a provisional agenda are available.

Sainfoin, a natural anthelmintic for small ruminants?

Nematodes of the gastro intestinal tract are of major economic importance in livestock, particularly in domestic ruminants such as sheep and goats. Sainfoin, a legume forage that contains tannin, may play a relevant role in non-chemical control.  In addition, it may reduce methane emission from the animals, which find the plant highly palatable, and the flowers are also attractive to bees and pollinators.  A new technical note from the EU-funded LowInputBreeds project provides a useful overview of the research.


New research network puts farmers in the driving seat

An unprecedented partnership of farming groups has launched a new network to support innovation by farmers. Innovative Farmers gives farmers research support and funding on their own terms. The network is part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme, funded by the Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation. The Soil Association, Organic Research Centre and Waitrose have been partners in the programme and are now joined by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) and Innovation in Agriculture, ensuring that the new network represents farmers and growers across the industry.

In our latest Landbridge blog Tom MacMillan from the Soil Association tells us a bit more about how Innovative Farmers will work in practice.


Making towns and cities pollinator friendly

Insect pollinators are essential for food production and wild flower reproduction and they are under increasing pressure.  A majority of humans live in urban areas, but we tend to think only of the pressures on pollinators in the countryside.  It’s important that we also manage our towns and cities as pollinator friendly environments. LWEC Policy and Practice Note no 20 explains how this might be achieved.

Building cross-professional networks

Nuffield scholar Finola McCoy writes in praise of professional networks and the role of ''the honest broker'' in the Landbridge blog.  ''Many professionals have a 'healthy' suspicion of other professionals working in the same region,'' she writes, ''and may worry about losing clients or business. However, the reality is that this suspicion is often born out of ignorance of and isolation from other professionals and in general, the positive outcomes from networking outweigh the real challenges and the perceived threats.''  Finola's Nuffield report on ''Building Strong Professional Networks'' will be available during the autumn on the Nuffield Ireland website.

Organic farming at six year low says report

From a peak in 2009, land being farmed organically in England in 2014 was at a six year low of 296,683 ha, and organic farms had a lower average Farm Business Income (FBI) than non-organic farms for all farm types except Less Favoured Area (LFA) grazing farms, according to an independent report from Rural Business Research.  The Organic Farming in England report is drawn from the latest results from Farm Business Survey 2013/14 data and compiled by Charles Scott from the Rural Business Survey at Newcastle University.   Charles Scott said: ''However, as has been the case for some years, organic LFA grazing farms remained more profitable than their non-organic counterparts''.

Farm modernisation and rural resilience in Europe

The transdisciplinary European RETHINK research programme has been researching the links between farm modernisation, rural development and resilience in a world of increasing demands and finite resources.  Over the past three years they have been exploring alternative development trajectories, highlighting innovation opportunities and identifying potential synergies between farm modernisation and sustainable rural development across Europe.  One of their main goals has been to help overcome simplistic viewpoints of what modernization entails and to identify best practices supporting a sustainable agriculture in vibrant rural areas.  Their final end of project conference takes place on 2 December 2015 in Brussels. For more information on the project, the programme and the online registration portal visit

Have your say on the 25 year Food and Farming strategy

Defra is inviting people from the food, farming and rural business communities to attend an event organised by the Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network in Harrogate.  They will be presenting their findings from the consultation events they held across the country to identify key issues needing to be addressed in the development of a 25 year Food and Farming Strategy.  If you want to have your say, come to the free event at the Calder Room, Pavilions of Harrogate, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, HG2 8NZ on Tuesday 1 December, 12 noon to 4.30 pm.  To book a place contact Holly Jones tel 01423 546251, email or you can book on line.

For more information see flyer.

Tackling the nitrogen crisis

A broad, discipline-spanning symposium to examine the nitrogen crisis, its severity and how we measure and monitor it has been organised at Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, on Friday 18 September 2015.  This follows a BBSRC-NSF meeting of scientists from the UK and USA who are working on aspects of the nitrogen crisis.  The symposium will explore innovations to alleviate the crisis, from changing agricultural practice, legume breeding, nodulation of cereals, cereal nitrogen use efficiency, through to engineering solutions such as expressing nitrogenase in mitochondria, synthetic symbioses and exploiting natural endophytes. How these relate to social and regulatory aspects of changing agricultural practice in both developing and well-developed countries will be considered. There will also be a networking reception at Somerville College, Oxford from 7pm on Thursday 17 September 2015.  To register and for further information visit or contact

Diversity is important for effective pollination

The majority of plant species rely on flower-visiting insects for pollination. Insect pollinators include wild bees, flies, butterflies and beetles, but managed honeybees also play an important role.  Abundant and diverse pollinator communities are essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems, stable crop production, and to ensure effective pollination services in the face of continued land use and climate change.  But the diversity of these insects is under a variety of pressures.  LWEC Policy and Practice Note no 19 makes recommendations for policymakers and land managers that could help to address the problems.

Exchanging knowledge across Europe

Katrin Prager from the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen reflects on the prospects for farmer support provided through advisory services and highlights some of the findings from the EU project PROAKIS in our Landbridge blog.

PROHEALTH: a holistic approach to production diseases

Production diseases usually originate from a complex interaction of genetics, environment (including housing, nutrition and management) and pathogens. In the past, efforts to control production diseases have focused on controlling either the pathogen or the genetic susceptibility of the animal. In reality, there are many interacting factors which determine whether an animal which is subject to an infectious or metabolic challenge will show clinical, or subclinical, signs of disease. The PROHEALTH project is motivated by the belief that a more holistic view of production diseases is required. By investigating how the many different and complex factors on the farm interact with the inherent resistance in an animal, and also looking at the biological mechanisms that underlie the differences in susceptibility between animals in the same environment, the researchers aim to develop more effective control strategies. This will result in demonstrable improvements to animal welfare as well as bringing economic benefits.  The PROHEALTH Consortium has expertise in veterinary science and epidemiology, physiology and immunology, genetics, nutrition, socio-economics, welfare and production science of pigs and poultry.  It involves 22 partners from across the EU and is led by Newcastle University. To find out more about PROHEALTH and follow the research results visit the project website.

Rothamsted launches new knowledge exchange project for farmers and land advisers

The CROPPROTECT project, based at Rothamsted Research, is developing a web-based knowledge exchange system to provide farmers and agronomists with guidance on pest, weed and disease management, especially in situations where effective pesticides are not available and alternative approaches are required. Log onto CROPPROTECT on the Rothamsted website. In the latest landbridge blog Toby Bruce from Rothamsted Research, explains what it aims to achieve and how it will develop.


Submit your question about business practice to the Nexus Network

The Nexus Network which brings together researchers, policy makers, business leaders and civil society to develop collaborative projects and improve decision making on food, energy, water and the environment, is asking members of the business community to tell them: What are the most important questions around business practice that, if answered, could help companies manage their dependencies and impacts upon food, energy, water and the environment? For more information, and to submit your questions between now and July, visit the Nexus Network website.


How are pests and diseases affecting bee pollinators?
Bees are important for food production; there are over 250 species in the United Kingdom and they provide pollination services for many of our crops. Pests and diseases, sometimes in combination with other factors, can cause decline in bee populations. LWEC policy and practice note no 17 looks at the latest research and makes recommendations for minimising pest and disease risks to wild and managed pollinator bees.


Making policy and managing land to minimise risk to pollination services

The toxic effects of common pesticides are rarely highly specific and can pose a risk to beneficial insects such as pollinating bees. LWEC’s Policy and Practice Note no 16 looks at how these risks might be minimised by policymakers, in how they design and implement policy, and by land managers in their approach to pest control.


Prospects for Farmers Support: Advisory Services in European Agricultural and Information Systems

The PRO AKIS project aimed to find out how and from what sources farmers get reliable and relevant knowledge, as well as orientation and support, in order to continuously evolve, to successfully solve problems, and to respond to external expectations and development opportunities.  The project concluded at the end of May with a very successful Final Conference in Brussels. All presentations are available for download and a quick overview of PRO AKIS outputs and key findings may be found in their brochure which is available in five languages.  In discussion with the project advisory boards and other stakeholders the project team developed policy recommendations  for European and national policy makers on how to support innovation in the agricultural sector. 

Ecosystem Services: Taking the Next Step

The Exeter University Centre for Rural Policy Research brought together land advisers, land managers and academic researchers to consider the links between ecosystem services and sustainability at a recent symposium.  In the Landbridge blog Matt Lobley shares a flavour of the day and you can also find links to the speakers slides.

Would you like to see more young people coming into agriculture?

Organisations from across the industry have come together to develop Brightcrop an initiative that aims to inform young people about food and farming and encourage more entrants into the industry.  Brightcrop has a website  and is also looking for ambassadors who are prepared to give some of their time to enthuse and inspire school students about agricultural careers.  Ambassadors could be farmers, agronomists, engineers, scientists, land agents or others involved in agriculture.  They can take up varied roles, from attending careers fairs and giving talks in schools, to conducting mock job interviews, depending on their expertise.  The Brightcrop team will be delivering a training session on Wednesday 8 July from 8-10am at Ibbotsons Produce Ltd, Mill Hill, Braegate Ln, Colton, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire LS24 8EW.   Register via Eventbrite if you would like to attend, or visit the website to find out more about how to become an ambassador.

The battle to combat black-grass a breakfast seminar at the Great Yorkshire Show

Herbicide resistance in black-grass is rising steadily.  The Farmer Scientist Network will be addressing this serious issue in their first breakfast seminar, to be held at the Great Yorkshire Show 8.15-9.30 am on 16 July 2015.  The seminar will be led by Farmer Scientist Network Chair Professor Rob Edwards who is Head of Agriculture at Newcastle University and research lead of the BBSRC-funded black-grass herbicide resistance initiative.  He, together with colleagues from Sheffield and Rothamsted research, will present the latest results in understanding and combatting this serious threat to UK arable farming.  Tom Allen-Stevens, an arable farmer based in Oxfordshire and editor of Crop Protection Magazine will provide a practitioner perspective.

Healthy Minor Cereals information event at Nafferton Farm and Gilchesters Organics

Healthy Minor Cereals is an EU project focussing on enhancing exploitation of minor cereal species.  Nafferton Ecological Farming Group, with the support of Gilchesters Organics, is currently trialling four different varieties of spelt and rye under different regimes and will be holding an event in Northumberland, at Nafferton Farm and Gilchesters Organics, on Saturday 11 July.  There will be information sessions about the project and about the Gilchesters production system, a tour of field trials and discussion with questions over a barbecue lunch.  If you are interested in attending please email .

BBSRC seeks stakeholders to join pool of experts, strategy panels and committees

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is looking for suitably qualified and motivated individuals from academia, industry and other BBSRC user communities to fill a number of vacancies on strategy panels, the pool of experts, Committee E and Follow-on-Fund Committee. This is an opportunity to work with other highly experienced people from across the academic, public, private and civil sectors to make an important contribution to the future direction of bioscience research. If you are interested in joining any of these committees or panels, please visit the Call for BBSRC Pool of Experts, Strategy Advisory Panels, Research Committee E and Follow-on-Fund Committee page. The closing date for applications is Sunday midnight, 5 July 2015.

Superfeed lupins will save soya protein
The potential for home-grown sweet lupins to replace imported soya in livestock, poultry and aquaculture concentrate feeds has been made clear through the three year project at Aberystwyth University which has revealed that livestock, poultry and fish given rations containing lupins perform equally well and in some cases better than those fed rations of comparable quality containing soya.

Ecosystem Services: Taking the Next Step

The Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter is hosting a one-day symposium on Ecosystem Services: Taking the Next Step in Exeter on 1 June 2015. The symposium will explore current evidence and innovation around ecosystem services and the ecosystems approach, together with a forward look for researchers and practitioners. Land managers and practitioners from the advisory professions will be very welcome.  Numbers will be limited so do get in touch if you are interested.  The programme and booking information are available on the website. 

Combating Liver Fluke: Sustainable Control

Three events organised by Innovation for Agriculture with Advanced Training Partnership
Tuesday 5th May at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire
Wednesday 6th May at Cockle Park Farm, Morpeth, Northumberland
Thursday 7th May at Westmorland Ag Society, Lane Farm, Cumbria
This workshop will help you understand how you and your vet can help to control liver fluke on your farm in a way that could reduce your use of drugs and provide a longer lasting method of control.  Book on line or contact Charlotte Johnston on 07779572598 or email .

Innovative Farming: A one day event for researchers and farmers

How can farming contribute to innovative research? On 19 May 2015 at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, farmers from England and researchers from across Europe we will look at how both parties can work closer together to improve outputs and farm profitability. They hope that by sharing experiences from both the farmer and researcher perspective, others will be inspired to collaborate for mutual benefit. The event is free for farmers to attend. There is a small charge of £15 for researchers and industry. Book online or for more information please contact Charlotte Johnston on 07779572598 or email


Insects could help maintain sustainability of livestock industry

How can we ensure livestock production remains sustainable?  Using insects in animal feed could be one potential solution.  A research team from Ghent University Faculty of Bioscience Engineering interviewed 196 farmers, 137 agriculture sector stakeholders and 82 citizen/consumers about their attitudes, product attribute beliefs, perceived benefits, risks and concerns, and willingness-to-accept and use insect-based animal feed and the resulting livestock products.  Agriculture sector stakeholders showed the most favorable attitude towards the use of insects in animal feed (average score of 4.16 on a scale from 1 to 5), followed by citizens (3.89) and farmers (3.83). The idea was most warmly welcomed for fish and poultry feed, followed by pig feed, and to a lower extent pet food and cattle feed.  The study was performed in January 2015 in Flanders, an area with a highly specialized intensive livestock farming industry.


Working outside our comfort zones to deliver impact

In the latest landbridge blog, Julia Cooper, Lecturer in Soil Science in the School of Agriculture at Newcastle University explains how researchers and partners have been collaborating in an innovative workshop on strategies to improve Nitrogen efficiency on farms.


Relu Newsletter - April 2015

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme April 2015 Newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability launched

Defra have launched the first two elements of the Countryside Productivity Scheme which includes the new European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability. £5m will be available to build innovation in European Agriculture by bringing together researchers and farmers/ foresters to apply new approaches, translate research into practice and to exchange knowledge. Delivery of EIP-Agri will be through Operational Groups, comprising some combination of farmers, foresters, researchers, advisers, NGOs and others. OGs will be set up by the participants with a common interest in a specific, practical innovative project. Activities are expected to include application or translation of research, pilot approaches and knowledge exchange. Applications will be invited from Summer 2015. From 9th March Defra are asking those interested in forming an Operational Group to send in a Notification of Idea (NoI) to

Engineering innovation for agricultural water management

The Instituion of Agricultural Engineers is holding its annual conference on 20th May 2015 at Newcastle University exploring the current state of on-farm water management and the role of engineering in agricultural water management. It will report on novel systems for water management and new tools and actions. See programme for more details and booking information.

Managing the environment to improve human health & wellbeing

The Valuing Nature Programme is inviting interested parties to contribute to the shaping of its forthcoming health and wellbeing call - to be announced in May 2015 - by completing the an online survey (deadline 13 March 2015). The five year, c£6.5m Valuing Nature Programme (VNP) is supported by NERC, ESRC, BBSRC, AHRC and Defra. This funding call will address the goal of “Improving our understanding of the role biodiversity and ecosystem processes play in human health and wellbeing”. Research for this call will focus on the themes of: Natural hazards and extreme events;Exposure of people to vector-borne diseases and marine toxins; and Health improvements associated with urban ecosystems (green space).The VNP Coordination Team is asking for input to identify key research challenges that could help develop interdisciplinary capability. All responses will be used by the VNP funders to shape the Health & Wellbeing call.

New water capital grants available

Farmers and land managers in England will soon be able to apply to Natural England for a water capital grant of up to £10,000 to help them carry out works that will improve water management and quality on their land. Providing a total of £10 million worth of funding to the farm industry, these government grants will fund new projects that reduce the impact agriculture can have on our water quality. Applications to the water capital grants fund can be submitted from 2 March 2015 and must be received by Natural England on or before 30 April 2015.


Calling all farmers and advisers in the North East

Catchment Sensitive Farming in conjunction with landbridge, Newcastle University and the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group are hosting a free workshop on 19th March in Wooler on cover crops, precision farming and more! Featuring contributions from CSF, Agrovista and Newcastle University, this interactive workshop offers strategies to improve fertiliser efficiency and save money on farm. Click here for further information. To book your free place contact Ian Walton at


Knowledge exchange in food research and policy

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Green Alliance are holding a joint workshop that will bring together academics and NGOs working on food issues to explore how knowledge exchange could be better enabled. The event will take place on Friday 20th March in London aims to identify: The overlap between issues that NGOs are focused on, which need a stronger evidence base, and the issues that academics are working on; How these efforts could be better integrated in order to enable greater impact; Whether NGO input into research and funding priorities would align research needs and potential impact more closely; How the opportunities that attendees identify for more effective NGO-academic interaction can be realised; and The role that NERC can play. If you are an academic interested in better engagement with the NGO community on food research and policy, then please send an Expression of Interest to Faye Scott (


Capita and Newcastle University partnership selected to operate Fera in new Defra joint venture

Capita plc has been selected, following a competitive procurement process, as the preferred bidder to form a joint venture with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to operate the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) in York. And as part of the proposal, the company has named Newcastle University as their strategic science partner to run the research part of the new organisation. Capita will make an initial investment of £20m for a 75% stake in the joint venture, with further investment, in cash, kind and dividends, during the following five years. The joint venture will create 50 new science jobs in York and, in partnership with Newcastle University, an institute that will bring together around 40 researchers.


BBSRC to launch Virtual Joint Centres in Agricultural Nitrogen
BBSRC invite interested academics eligible to receive BBSRC funding to attend this town meeting, to discuss the proposed upcoming Newton Fund call for virtual joint centres in Agricultural Nitrogen with Brazil, China and India. Areas of research which could be addressed by a virtual joint centre could include: increasing nitrogen use efficiency in crop plants; developing/improving biological nitrogen fixation in crop plants ; agronomic nitrogen management and/or efficiency. The outputs of this workshop will help to inform the scope of the call which will launch in spring 2015. This meeting will be an opportunity to find out more about the call, to meet the BBSRC team involved, meet other UK researchers who could be potential collaborators, and to use their experience to provide advice to us to help scope the call. See BBSRC website for more information and to register for the event on 11 March 2015.


Businesses need to look ahead and plan for water resilience

Globally a growing population is putting pressure on our limited supply of water, and agriculture faces particular challenges as it is responsible for 70% of the freshwater used by human beings. Although we seem to experience plenty of rainfall in the UK, having enough water available at the right time is likely to become more of a problem for businesses here, particularly those concerned with land use. Climate change will be felt throughout the country and changing rainfall patterns could affect our river flows, making it harder for groundwater to be recharged, while more intense rainfall may increase the likelihood of surface water flooding, leading to pollution of water bodies. All businesses need to be looking ahead and may find Business in the Community's recent report "Water: securing the resources for future prosperity" useful in their resilience planning.

Relu Newsletter - January 2015

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme January 2015 Newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.

One-day seminars on organic food production and supply chains

The Organic Research Centre are running a series of one day seminars in January and February on organic food production and supply chains, aimed at farmers/farm managers, advisers/land agents, researchers, young people including students/apprentices and others involved in the food supply chain.

Could wetlands help improve land and water management?

A growing emphasis on the value “natural capital” and rising concern about the need to protect water at source, rather than cleaning up abstracted supplies with chemical inputs, could be major drivers for public and private organisations to look for more systemic solutions such as wetlands. LWEC’s policy and practice note on the topic is now available in hard copy (contact and on line.

Countryside Stewardship reform

Defra have issued an introduction to the new environmental land management scheme 'Countryside Stewardship' which is part of the RDPE Programme 2014-2020. Farmers and land managers can start applying for the scheme from July 2015. Agreements and payments will begin in 2016.

Latest landbridge blog
Charles Scott, Manager of the Farm Business Survey at Newcastle University reflects on the recent Northern Farming Conference held in Hexham in the latest landbridge blog

Advisers needed for research study!

Hope Moore is a third year Animal Science student at Newcastle University. For her dissertation on ‘Current methods used to control Gastro-intestinal parasites on UK sheep farms’ she is undertaking a survey in conjunction with EBLEX, with the aim to try and quantify current anthelmintic practice on sheep farms and farmers awareness of the alternatives to anthelmintic drugs. Resistance to anthelmintic wormers used to treat gastro-intestinal nematodes is a growing problem in the UK. However there are many alternatives to anthelmintics that are being researched and may be possible alternatives to using anthelmintics. Hope is conducting a pilot survey aimed at professionals that work with farmers on a regular basis (this would be you!). The feedback from this pilot questionnaire will inform, the second, and final questionnaire that will be distributed to sheep farmers in the UK through EBLEX. If you think you could help and are interested in filling in the questionnaire please could you contact Hope at:

Guidance for growers on getting optimum pollination from insects

Bees, hoverflies and other insects play a vital role in pollinating many crops in the UK, as has been emphasised in Defra’s recently published national pollinator strategy . The latest Living With Environmental Change Policy and Practice Note “The benefits of managing pollinators for crop production” draws on research from the Insect Pollinators Initiative to provide practical advice for growers and farmers about how they can manage this important resource for optimum returns, as well as pointers for policy. The PPN may be downloaded from the LWEC website and printed copies are also available from

Bridging the gap between farming research and practice - live twitter discussion

Landbridge will be joining #AgriChatUK this Thursday (November 6th) from 8pm for a discussion on 'Bridging the gap between farming research and practice'. Join us live for this twitter debate at

Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity initiative - call for proposals
The Living With Environmental Change Partnership has announced a call for proposals for the third phase of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (THAPBI) funded jointly by BBSRC, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), ESRC, the Forestry Commission, NERC and the Scottish Government. This third call specifically invites proposals for scientifically excellent, relevant research that will inform policy and practice to address either (i) threats to the health of oak, or (ii) threats to trees from Phytophthora. The funders expect to support one project on each topic at a cost not exceeding £1m per project. Proposals must be integrative and interdisciplinary, combining high-quality biological, environmental and social science, and drawing on the full range of available research capabilities. Collaborations are particularly encouraged between researchers with established skills in tree or forest health and others with complementary expertise from the wider relevant research communities. Expressions of interest should be submitted by 8th January 2015 through Defra's eSourcing Portal.

Natural Capital - What's the Evidence?
Valuing Our Life Support Systems 2014, a major natural capital summit, sponsored by NERC, brings together key researchers, practitioners and business leaders to explore the evidence and ethics of a Natural Capital approach. The Summit takes place at the British Library, London, on 6 and 7 November. Registration by 31 October 2014. Discounts are available for employees of CEH, the James Hutton Institute and members of the Society of Biology or British Ecological Society.

Would ‘refuges’ near flowering crops enable insecticides and pollinators to co-exist?
In an opinion piece prepared for the Farming Futures website, rural commentator and land agent Rob Yorke considers whether regulators should insist on the planting of specific habitat (‘refuges’) as part of granting licences to use certain insecticides.

Further reflections on knowledge exchange in arable farming

In the latest landbridge blog, Sean Ryan from Defra's Agri-Tech Strategy Team reflects on a recent workshop co-hosted by the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the Association of Independent Crop Consultants, the Home Grown Cereals Authority and Landbridge on knowledge exchange within arable farming and explains how it brought new insights into the role and contribution of different organisations in promoting knowledge exchange within the agri-tech sector.

How can land advisers make new Agri Tech Strategy work?
The Government's new Agri Tech Strategy will need key knowledge exchange partners if it is to make a difference and fulfil its objectives of sustainable intensification. The latest policy and practice note from LWEC emphasises the important role that the advisory professions will play.

Relu Newsletter - October 2014

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme in association with Landbridge October 2014 newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


Free wind energy seminars for farmers and landowners

RenewableUK is providing free seminars for farmers and landowners who are interested in learning more about the benefits and practical issues associated with the installation of a wind turbine/s. The seminars will take place on 13th November 2014 at Manchester Central Convention Complex and will be provided by a range of industry experts covering issues such as feasibility, planning, opportunities and potential hurdles to overcome, financing, technical innovations and grid connection.Those attending will also have free access to an exhibition where they will be able to meet developers, turbine manufacturers and a wide range of service providers. The exhibition includes a special section on small and medium wind turbines. Register here for the event.

Sustainable Intensification Platform will develop better measures
Sustainable intensification – increasing farm productivity while avoiding negative environmental and social impacts – is going to be key to ensuring future productivity. Defra’s 3 year, £4.5 million Sustainable Intensification Platform was officially launched in London on 30th September 2014. Involving a large consortium of stakeholders spanning research and practice, the project involves three interlinked projects led by Exeter University, National Institute of Agricultural Botany and ADAS. These projects will develop improved indicators for measuring different sustainable intensification interventions and their impact and test these at farm and then landscape scale, as well as examining the external influences on farmers’ productivity and the sustainability of their practices. Landbridge is involved in the platform as a key dissemination partner to promote engagement between the Sustainable Intensification Platform and the land advisory professions.


Building on a solid foundation: Improving knowledge exchange in arable farming
Landbridge co-hosted a workshop on the 23rd September 2014 in Peterborough which examined knowledge exchange in the arable sector and how this could be built upon and improved. The event was co-hosted by the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the Home Grown Cereals Authority and the Association of Independent Crop Consultants and featured contributions from leading industry representatives and researchers. This interactive workshop involved delegates mapping the knowledge exchange landscape in the arable sector, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the current system and developing priorities for how knowledge exchange mechanisms and strategies could be improved in the future. The programme for the event is available here and the landbridge blog features reflections on the day from panellist Jeremy Phillipson, research scientist Paul Neve and agronomist Patrick Stephenson.


Agri-tech winners
The names of the 15 Agri-Tech Catalyst Award winning projects have been announced. In this first round of the competition, the winning projects will receive a share of £18 million of funding from government and industry to help accelerate agricultural innovation and their commercial viability. This includes £12.1 million funding from government (from the Technology Strategy Board/Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Department for International Development) with £5.7 million co-investment from industry. The winning projects are all led by UK companies and span 3 key areas of the agriculture sector – crops, livestock and aquaculture. Full details of the winning projects can be found here.


Defra awards 19 million pounds to help rural businesses
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has announced that more than 2,500 rural businesses are set to receive a share of 19 million pounds of government funding. This funding has been specifically designed to boost the competitiveness of rural farming and forestry businesses and it is believed that this extra funding will support around 5000 jobs across England. The funding is from the targeted Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS), part of the CAP-funded Rural Development Programme for England.


Could putting a value on coastal assets help to defuse conflict?
Coastal management can be a highly contested topic - a scheme to control erosion in one place may result in loss of beach frontage further down the coast. People value natural assets in different ways - one group of stakeholders may want to see changes that will benefit livelihoods but change the natural habitat and threaten species that other stakeholders hold dear. The latest Policy and Practice Note from LWEC, drawing on evidence from the Valuing Nature Network and UK National Ecosystem Assessment, tackles this issue head on, looking at how coastal assets may be valued and proposing a 'balance sheet' approach that could help.


Building on a solid foundation: Improving knowledge exchange in arable farming

The Agricultural Industries Confederation, HGCA, AICC and landbridge are hosting a workshop focussed on knowledge exchange in the arable sector on Tuesday 23 September at the Marriott Hotel in Peterborough. The aim of the workshop is to identify how existing models of knowledge exchange in the arable sector can be built upon. There are plans to hold a workshop for the livestock sector later in the year. The workshop will bring together researchers, professional advisers from across the industry, levy boards, and policy-makers with a view to developing solutions together to build on the solid foundation and improve knowledge exchange in arable farming.If you have any questions about the event or would like to reserve one of the last few remaining free places, contact Corrina Gibbs at AIC by Friday 12 September on 01733 385276 or email


Practical Sustainability Assessment Workshop for dairy farmers
Elm Farm Organic Research Centre and the EU-funded ‘Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying’ project are hosting a workshop for UK dairy farmers on 24th September. The workshop will provide an overview of sustainability assessment methods and the various carbon footprinting tools available for UK dairy systems. It will also include new methods for including soil carbon changes and biodiversity indicators within sustainability assessments presented by John Hermansen and Marie Knudsen of Aarhus University. The day will consist of a mix of practical sessions (i.e. trying out existing tools and methods), feedback sessions and speaker presentations. Further details of how to book and a programme are available here.


New veterinary vaccinology network will help tackle threat of animal diseases, including those spreading to humans
The Biotechology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has funded a new multidisciplinary network of veterinary vaccinology experts to help in the fight against animal diseases, some of which have the potential to spread to humans. The UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network will draw together major UK research players to enhance the uptake of new technologies in order to design, develop and deliver safe and effective next-generation vaccines against new and (re)-emerging diseases. The network includes experts from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Cambridge Veterinary School, Edinburgh University, Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Moredun Research Institute, Oxford University, The Pirbright Institute, The Roslin Institute, The Royal Veterinary College and the University of Stirling. The Network has funding for 5 years (£300k) and they will report to BBSRC and provide input into developing the future research agenda.


Help for professionals who advise on managing water environment
From the 22nd of September the Environment Agency (EA) will be consulting on the updated River Basin Management Plans across England for a period of six months. Improving agricultural practice and so reducing diffuse pollution from rural areas will be an important opportunity for improving the water environment in the next six years. To help those who work directly with and advise farmers, the EA has, with the help of the agricultural industry developed the Key Actions that farmers need to consider in managing the water environment. This is targeted towards those organisations involved in providing advice to farmers. Further details of what the water quality position is in your local catchment can be found on the “what’s in your back yard” website, where you can also download the individual sections from the Key Actions.


Landbridge workshop: the conversation continues...
There has been a real enthusiasm from delegates of the landbridge workshop on May 1st to continue to reflect on many of the issues raised on the day via the landbridge blog. Dr Julie Ingram from the Countryside & Community Research Institute explains about her involvement in a European project which is attempting to synthesise and convert agricultural research outcomes into suitable formats for farmers, advisers and others in the supply chain. Land agent Sue Steer, gives her thoughts on the workshop and some of the lessons we can draw for reconnecting science and professional practice. Finally, Jonathan Brunyee, National Trust tenant farmer, agri-environment consultant and farm business management lecturer at the Royal Agricultural University considers some of the key challenges to better knowledge exchange between research and practitioner communities and offers his thoughts on possible solutions.


Further reflections on knowledge exchange

Following on from the landbridge workshop on May 1st, the landbridge blog has been updated with additional contributions from David Caffall, Chief Executive of the Agricultural Industries Confederation, who reflects on the role of the agri-supply industry in linking research and practice and agronomist Patrick Stephenson, who offers his thoughts on getting researchers and the land professions better connected.


Taking stock of the links between research and the land professions
Landbridge hosted a workshop on May 1st 2014 at the British Academy in London which examined the links between research and the land professions and how they might be improved. With contributions from leading practitioners and researchers, the workshop explored models and strategies for bringing research and professional practice together, what gets in the way of fruitful knowledge exchange, and how barriers could be broken down. The programme and presentations from the workshop are available here. The landbridge blog features reflections on the day from two delegates: Fiona Mannix from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Chloe Palmer, Farm & environment consultant.


The 12th Rural Entrepreneurship Conference: Farm, Festival, Food or Fibre Optics

This conference will take place 18th - 19th June 2014 at Harper Adams University in rural Shropshire. The event will highlight the diversity and the growing entrepreneurial strength of rural areas and features current research, debate and policy practice, developments in rural entrepreneurship and contributes to further advances in the research debate. Keynote speakers at the conference will include practitioners and business leaders while the breakout sessions feature discussion and debate around the 22 submitted paper topics as diverse as: Illegal entrepreneurship, Farmers as entrepreneurs, Technology, Food, The effect of place, Atypical entrepreneurs and Policy.


What is causing the decline in pollinating insects?

Insect pollinator numbers are affected by many different environmental and socio-economic factors but attributing long term change in pollinator numbers to one or more of these is difficult. The latest in the LWEC Policy & Practice Note series explores how scientists are beginning to understand how these different factors interact with each other, and which are more important for particular insect groups, but there is no single, simple explanation for pollinator decline.


Family business succession planning

The intergenerational dimension is an important aspect of family business. Many of the operators of family businesses hope to pass the business on to the next generation. However, research carried out by the University of Exeter has found that for a variety of reasons, many find it difficult to plan for succession and as a result the business may fail entirely. It is not just the existence of a succession plan but its adequacy that is critical. This points to the need for training to boost the skills and knowledge of professional advisers to ensure the quality of succession planning.


Relu Newsletter - April 2014

The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme April 2014 Newsletter includes all the latest news and updates on Relu and LWEC research projects, events, staff and publications.


Real impact of reducing farm regulation still to come
Progress is being made on reducing regulation but there is still a long way to go, according to the Farming Regulation Task Force Implementation Group. In their recent report they praise the large amount of detailed work already done. However, they also note that much of this has been concerned with laying foundations for future action and that the impact is still to be felt on farms. A synthesis of the report prepared by the RuSource rural information network is available via OpenFields.


Symposium on low input strategies for integrated livestock breeding and management
Newcastle University are hosting a symposium on the 15th and 16th April 2014 presenting the findings from a 5-year EU funded project to develop integrated livestock breeding and management strategies to improve animal health, product quality and performance in organic and low input milk, meat and egg production. At this final symposium, project results covering four species will be presented as well as ethical, environmental and economic implications of the results. To register for this event, please contact Teresa Jordon at


Soil Association to fund innovative farmer-led research
The Soil Association has announced funding for three innovative new research projects to support sustainable agriculture. The research topics were suggested by farmers, working alongside scientists. The projects tackle three key challenges for organic and low-input agriculture: managing weeds without herbicides; finding affordable protein feed for poultry, pig and fish farming; and growing even healthier food. The three projects, which have been devised to address important issues facing farmers practically and innovatively, have been awarded almost £50,000 between them, as part of the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme.


Linking the laboratory and the farm
How can we get farmers and scientists talking and make knowledge exchange work for both? In the latest landbridge blog, Professor Dianna Bowles explains about the recently launched Farmer Scientist Network of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, which aims to provide a new opportunity for farmers and scientists to meet and discuss emerging problems and identify solutions together.


Taking stock of the links between research and the land professions

Are scientists providing land advisers with useful information that they need to do their jobs? And do front line professionals have sufficient opportunities to contribute their expertise to the process of research? This one day interactive workshop hosted by landbridge on May 1st 2014 will take a clear look at the links between research and the land professions and how they might be improved. With contributions from leading practitioners and researchers, the workshop will explore models and strategies for bringing research and professional practice together, what gets in the way of fruitful knowledge exchange, and how barriers could be broken down. The event will be of interest to land professionals and their associations, research funders and research programme representatives, university and research institute knowledge exchange staff and representatives of the agricultural and ancillary industries. See provisional programme for further information.To book your place, contact Amy Proctor on by 21st March.


Better planning for our rivers and landscapes
The management of our river catchments and the ecosystems services that they provide is an increasingly complex task. Historically single sectors have been prioritised in a given location - for example farming, biodiversity or recreation - but this has failed to address the ways in which such different services are interlinked. Catchment partnerships are playing an important role in changing the way we undertake this task and rivers trusts are key to the new approach. The latest policy and practice note in the Living With Environmental Change series aims to guide catchment partnerships as they plan for this important function. The note may be downloaded from the LWEC website or hard copies may be obtained from


What role can advisers play in supporting the management of land and water?

Water is very much in the news at the moment, not for the best of reasons. How can professional advisers help farmers and land managers make best use of this important resource - and the range of ecosystem services that are affected by it - while avoiding the obvious problems? In the latest landbridge blog, Kate Russell of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers explains how the recent landbridge-sponsored workshop ‘Systemic Solutions at the landscape-water interface’ brought together advisers, academics, policy makers and water companies to explore some of the opportunities and barriers to the use of farmland to develop wetland-based solutions in the delivery of ecosystem services.

New web app supports smart agriculture
Global agri-food businesses and NERC-funded scientists have collaborated to create a free new web app aimed at helping farmers reduce their carbon footprints. Known as the Cool Farm Tool (CFT), it is the creation of NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow Dr Jonathan Hillier of the University of Aberdeen, working alongside companies including PepsiCo, Unilever, Heineken, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Yara and Fertilizers Europe. Launched at the 2014 Farming Futures conference, it gives farmers a simple way to access the latest science so they can understand the greenhouse gases their farms release, and how to reduce them most effectively. For more information on how to download the app see

Defra launch Plant Health Risk Register

Defra have announced that the Plant Health Risk Register is now publicly available. It is designed as a tool to enable government, industry and stakeholders to prioritise against pests and diseases which threaten crops, trees, gardens and the countryside. The register can be accessed here:


12th Rural Entrepreneurship Conference Rural Entrepreneurship: Farm, Festival, Food or Fibre Optics?
Abstracts are now invited for papers from all with an interest in rural entrepreneurship. Contributions from academics and practitioners alike are encouraged. Papers contributing to the growing debate around rural entrepreneurship and generating knowledge transfer ranging from the conceptual, descriptive to empirical papers, to those presenting best practise case studies are welcomed. The conference will take place at Harper Adams University, Shropshire on 18th - 19th June 2014. Abstracts to be submitted by March 1st 2014. For more information and a booking form see

Capital works funding available for farmers from the Catchment Sensitive Farming grant scheme

The Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme supports farmers to undertake practical works that will help improve water quality and reduce pollution from agricultural activity within the CSF project's 77 catchment areas. Farmers can apply for funding from 1st February. For more information see:

Privatisation of Biodiversity Conference
This one day conference on 20th February 2014 in Dundee will examine the use of a range of new approaches to conservation, including biodiversity offsetting, payment for ecosystem services and conservation covenants. The event will seek the views of representatives of a wide range of interests, including an audience of academics, legal practitioners involved in planning, environmental and agricultural matters, practitioners, policy-makers and legislators, public bodies with responsibility for conservation, land owners, managers and developers, and individuals and NGOs dedicated to biodiversity. Initial details of the conference and some background information are available at

Open Farm Sunday-get involved!
Farm registrations are open for Open Farm Sunday 2014. This will take place on Sunday 8th June 2014. For more details see:

Are multifunctional ecosystems the key to "delivering more with less" from agriculture while achieving improved water quality and supply?
This one-day landbridge-sponsored event will bring together key players with interests in farming, the water environment and the interactions between them to share their knowledge. They will be looking at systemic approaches to water quality and exploring the barriers that prevent farmers and growers (and others) making more use of these systems. The workshop will be of interest to regulators, land users, advisors and businesses. The event is organised by the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network in conjunction with the University of West England and the Royal Agricultural University and takes place on 10th February at the Bristol Aquarium. To register for a place go to:

Defra research set to explore the role of field margins in promoting biocontrol and biodiversity

The options available to arable farmers to combat pest insects are in decline due to insecticide resistance and the suspension of key insecticide products from the market. A new 3 year Defra funded project being carried out at Rothamsted aims to increase the pest control potential of field margins as well as their role in promoting biodiversity. For more details see

Don't dismiss 'ecosystem services' as jargon, says LWEC latest publication
The term 'ecosystem services' may be common currency among academics but for many land managers it just seems like another piece of jargon, far removed from their everyday practice. The reality is, however, that valuing land for the whole range of different services it provides will become increasingly important. Professionals such as land agents, planners, ecologists and other land-based advisers need to incorporate this kind of ecosystem thinking routinely into the work they do, if they are to provide the best possible service to their clients. The latest policy and practice note in LWEC's new series shows how the latest research can help land advisers to maximise the benefits. In the landbridge blog, Charles Cowap, Mark Reed and Alister Scott reflect on how the landbridge event on ecosystems services held in June helped inform this publication. The whole LWEC series is available on the website or in hard copy from

landbridge team contribute to new book on veterinary business and enterprise
Vets are practical scientists who run their own businesses. During their training they need to develop a whole range of skills and to carry on engaging in knowledge exchange throughout their careers. A new textbook for veterinary undergraduates features a chapter by members of the landbridge team on veterinary field expertise and knowledge exchange. The book, edited by Colette Henry, is designed to act as a learning tool to support veterinary business educators in their efforts to embed business and enterprise into veterinary undergraduate courses.

EFRA Committee urges Government to protect the competitiveness of of England's farmers

English farmers must not be disadvantaged by new CAP rules, according to a new report from the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee. It urges the Government to protect the competitiveness of England's farmers and give them the funding they need to invest in their businesses.

Rural businesses - central to the countryside or just an add-on?
In the latest landbridge blog, Roger Turner, rural economies consultant, explores why the insight and voice of rural professionals is sorely needed as Defra and Local Enterprise Partnerships consult on future funds for economic growth and rural areas

Forestry Commission - Invitation to Tender

The Forestry Commission have issued an invitation to tender for the feasibility of valuing woodlands contribution to regulating water quality and quantity. Tenders need to be received by 1pm on 18th December.

Invitation to tender- Ecosystems Approach to Protected Landscapes Management Plan Review

Natural Resources Wales is seeking to commission a short, desk based study to review and analyse the evidence, experience and best practice of using an ecosystems approach to natural resource management and determine how this can be applied to National Park and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) management planning. The deadline for applications is 10th January 2014. More information can be found here:


Collaborative farming - the secrets to success

Fellow farmers are a great source of knowledge. Working together has the potential to lead to business growth. Nuffield Farming Scholar David Wynne Finch highlights some examples of collaboration in action in the UK and outlines the skills required for successful collaborative farm businesses in the latest briefing from RuSource.


Common Agricultural Policy: How will it affect you?

Defra have launched a consultation on how the CAP should shape the future of farming and the rural economy in England. Defra is seeking views on how the CAP should be implemented in England from 2015. Regional workshops are being held around the country - more details are available here


Research grants announced to help business address challenges of managing ecosystem services
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is inviting proposals for knowledge exchange grants within its Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Sustainability (BESS) programme. The call is designed to stimulate and support innovation and collaboration between research and business to manage ecosystem services. The deadline for applications is January 14th 2014. More information is available at:


Could advisers work more effectively across professions?

Increasingly, advisers have to work with a range of other professionals to deliver key services for land managers. A new policy and practice note in the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) series guides advisers through the opportunities and challenges involved, while farm environmental consultant Chloe Palmer shares her own front-line experiences of inter-professional working within a unique moorland landscape, and reveals how it can provide positive outcomes for all involved.


Cross compliance inspections: where are farmers commonly failing?
Common failures in cross compliance inspections in 2012 included cattle, sheep and goat identification and registration, nitrate vulnerable zones, soil protection and the protection of hedgerows and watercourses according to the latest data from the Rural Payments Agency.


Autonomy in agriculture

Robotics and automation are going to happen within a generation however academic research often lacks a route to commercialisation and the way agricultural engineering is taught needs modernising according to a report by Nuffield Scholar James Szabo.


Farm advisers: how does their advice measure up?

In the latest landbridge blog Emilie Vrain explains about her research on diffuse water pollution, farmer behaviour and the role of farm advisers in helping to implement mitigation measures.


National Soil Symposium

The Soil Association are holding a two-day event in Bristol on 13th & 14th November 2013. The symposium will offer farmers and growers practical advice on soil management techniques for improved plant nutrition and livestock health. For more information see


What does Payment for Ecosystem Services mean for the future of our environment?

In the first in a new policy & practice note series from LWEC, Mark Reed explores whether PES offers a new opportunity for natural resource management.


How can agriculture deliver a better water environment?

In our landbridge blog Robert Brotherton, Principal Officer for Agriculture and Land Management at the Environment Agency explains how you can get involved in the latest water framework consultation.


Water Framework Directive Consultation - have your say
The Environment Agency is developing river basin management plans for the period 2015 to 2021. The 'Challenges and choices consultation' provides an opportunity to have your say on the issues affecting the water environment and how it should be protected and improved for the benefit of communities, businesses and wildlife. The consultation closes on 22 December 2013.


Could a landscape-scale approach to agri-environment schemes be more effective?
A new policy briefing from the Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University examines the potential of such an approach, including the implications for UK policy.


The latest Academic thinking disseminated direct to land users and advisers
Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities are offering workshops and online courses on sustainable agriculture. These are designed to strengthen specialist scientific skills in strategically important areas for the agri-food industry in the UK, through flexible, postgraduate training. Those working in UK agri-food industry are eligble for 80% bursaries.


New planning practice guidance for renewable and low carbon energy
The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued new planning guidance covering renewable energy technologies including hydropower, solar technology and wind turbines.

Workshop to address latest practices and research in catchment sensitive farming and landscape restoration
Landowners, farmers, businesses, charities, government departments and agencies interested in catchment management are invited to attend a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded workshop on 13th September 2013 at the University of Exeter to debate how catchment sensitive farming and landscape restoration can enhance ecosystem services

What do farmers really want from advisers?
Can the modern farmer be an expert in every specialist skill, with all the up to date knowledge that is needed in agriculture today?  Most would agree that they will always need to bring in advisers from a range of professions to support their business activities.  So what do they look for in an adviser?  AgriChat UK has raised the topic on their regular Twitter discussion, with some interesting results.  Read a synthesis from the discussion on OpenFields.

Bridging ecosystems research and the built and natural environment professions
Professionals working across the built and natural environments met up with ecosystem services researchers at an event organised by Landbridge.  Although a great deal of work has now been done in this area, the workshop assessed the value of an ecosystems services framework for decision making, advisory processes and professional working.  The event, held in June at Aston Conference Centre in Birmingham and led by Alister Scott of the National Ecosystem Assessment Follow On, brought together a range of researchers and professions (surveying, planning, forestry, agricultural valuation, agronomy, ecology and environmental management etc). The outcomes will feed into two forthcoming policy and practice notes.  One will be aimed at the land based professionals, the other at third sector organisations specifically concerned with riparian and water management.  Further outputs from the event will be made available here on the Landbridge website.

Exchanging knowledge boosts interest from farmers
Why should farmers bother with the ecosystem services approach if researchers do not bother to explain the science?  In our latest blog, Beth Brockett, who is pursuing her interdisciplinary PhD on the social and environmental implications of using satellite imagery to manage land for ecosystem services, writes about a recent event that brought researchers and farmers together to pool their knowledge on topics such as carbon storage. 

Auction scheme to improve water quality
In the first scheme of this kind in the UK, an auction was used successfully to distribute funds from a water company to farmers, investing in capital items to improve water quality. The work was supported by the NERC Business Internship scheme, managed by the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network. The scheme offered South West Water the opportunity to work with researchers from the University of East Anglia to devise an innovative mechanism for paying for the delivery of ecosystem services.  A new briefing note by Ruth Welters outlines the process.

What works for wildlife conservation on farms?
Large sums of money are spent on schemes to conserve wildlife across Europe but not enough is known about which interventions work best. A synopsis of evidence for the effects of such interventions on northern European farmland is now available on the Conservation Evidence website from the Relu project Linking Evidence and Policy for Managing Biodiversity in the Agricultural Landscape.  The evidence comes largely from a systematic map compiled by Harper Adams University, which used a peer-reviewed search protocol to find studies of the effectiveness of farm-scale interventions for conserving biodiversity in temperate Europe. The project has also provided evidence to inform policy decisions on CAP reform and looked at where evidence is lacking and which interventions should be promoted. For more information contact Lynn Dicks


New professional development resources from Landbridge

Inter-professional working is not a new phenomenon but it is becoming more important than ever for land advisers.  Nowadays they have to bring their skills together to address challenges in an increasingly complex statutory and regulatory environment.  Landbridge has published some new resources for professional development to help advisers navigate a pathway through competition and cooperation.  We welcome your comments and queries at

Comments invited on new UK Peatland Code
A draft of the Pilot Phase UK Peatland Code has now been published.  The Code is designed to provide an open, credible and verifiable basis for business sponsorship of peatland restoration projects in the UK and ensure that projects deliver tangible climate change mitigation alongside other environmental benefits.  The draft may be accessed on the IUCN website along with some specific consultation questions and guidance on how to provide feedback.

LWEC call for tree health and plant biosecurity research proposals

Recently, new pests and pathogens have emerged as significant risks to the UK's woodlands, commercial forests and urban trees, and globalisation of the plant trade has led to a marked increase in the volume and diversity of plants and plant products entering the UK.  A consortium of funders has established a joint strategic research initiative to bring the widest possible research capacity and capability to focus on the area of tree health and associated plant biosecurity issues.   There is a commitment of up to 9 million pounds over the next few years to support strategic research in this area under the auspices of the Living With Environmental Change Partnership. The initiative also directly supports the objectives of the joint Defra and Forestry Commission Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan launched in October 2011.  Details of the call for research proposals may be found on the BBSRC website and deadline for applications is 2 July 2013.


Advanced Training Partnership improved feed and forage workshop
ATP is holding an Improved Feed and Forage Workshop at IBERS - Aberystwyth University, 27th - 28th June 2013 looking at future varieties and their use on UK farms.  Guest speakers will be Alan Lovatt (IBERS) and Dr Philip Murray (Rothamsted Research) and there will be a tour of the IBERS breeding programme and visit to the National Phenomics Centre. A distance learning module on Feed and Forage will start on 29th July 2013.  Email for further information.

Mind the gap

Science Communications Manager writes in our latest blog about the need for research on the ecosystem services approach to reach front line practitioners and how the Landbridge event in Birmingham on 18 June aims to do just that.  Contact Alister Scott at for further information about the event and bookings.

The Science Behind the Schemes
June 11th 2013 from 10 am to 2 pm, Hollins Farm, Ennerdale, CA23 3AL
Farmers and farm environment advisors are invited to a free knowledge-exchange event with some of the UK's top environmental scientists.  
This event will give you the chance to speak to scientists who contribute to the creation of agri-environment policy research.  
Topics will include soil carbon storage, diffuse pollution and the use of satellite imagery for farm planning.
For more information, or to book your place, Tel:  01768 868615 or E mail:
This event is BASIS and BIAC registered

Assessing the value of ecosystem services for the built and natural environment professions
This one day workshop at Aston University on 18 June will bring together key professional institutes, associations and individuals with leading researchers on ecosystem services in order to share knowledge on how the value of nature can be more effectively embedded in decision-making, advisory processes and professional working across the built and natural environment.  Places are limited.  Contact Alister Scott at for further information and bookings.


Advanced Training Partnership distance learning module on upland farming systems
This module examines the environmental, social and economic viability of alternative upland farming systems. Starts 17th June 2013; registration before 27th May.  See or email for any further information.


Tweet the good news stories about farming
Rural Business Consultant Simon Haley urges farmers to get tweeting in our latest blog. Novices can learn how at "Twitter in the Farmyard" being organised by BIAC.

Team ethos can be beneficial for building reputations
Rural Chartered Surveyor Judy Pearson welcomes the new Landbridge professional development resources and highlights the benefits of being part of a team of advisers in our Landbridge blog. 


Insect pollinators stressed by multiple pressures
A new review of insect pollinators of crops and wild plants has concluded they are under threat globally from a cocktail of multiple pressures, and their decline or loss could have profound environmental, human health and economic consequences. Globally, insects provide pollination services to about 75% of crop species and enable reproduction in up to 94% of wild flowering plants. Pollination services provided by insects each year worldwide are valued at over US$200 billion. The review, published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, was carried out by an international team of 40 scientists from 27 institutions involved in the UK's Insect Pollinators Initiative, a ten million pound research programme investigating the causes and consequences of pollinator decline. For more information visit the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology website.


Twitter in the Farmyard: how your rural business can profit from social media
The British Institute of Agricultural Consultants is organising an event to help farmers and consultants start using social media.   It takes place at Woodside Conference Centre, Kenilworth on 22 May.  For more details visit the BIAC website


Rural areas could help fuel UK economy
Is the potential of the rural economy underestimated as an engine of economic growth?  The final policy and practice note in the Relu series suggests that more tailored and focused support for rural entrepreneurs could pay dividends for the UK economy.  "Rural areas as engines of economic growth" may be accessed on the Relu website (read here), and the whole Policy and Practice Note series is available on line.


Consultant required to draft policy and practice note
The delivery of environmental goods and services and the protection of natural capital and natural resources are key societal priorities. Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) research is at the cutting edge of this agenda. Major agents for disseminating the results of this research are potentially the land-based professions who are active in shaping the natural and built environments. A consultant is sought to prepare a policy and practice note that will highlight how the value of services that nature provides can be embedded in the decision-making and advisory processes of land-based professionals.  The deadline is 3rd May 2013.  See guidance for project here and conditions for tendering here.

New professional development resources from Landbridge

Inter-professional working is not a new phenomenon but it is becoming more important than ever for land advisers.  Nowadays they have to bring their skills together to address challenges in an increasingly complex statutory and regulatory environment.  Landbridge has published some new resources for professional development to help advisers navigate a pathway through competition and cooperation.  We welcome your comments and queries at


AIC launch highlights The Value of Advice
The Agricultural Industries Confederation launched their new report "The Value of Advice" at the House of Commons this week, where it was welcomed by Defra and BIS Ministers.  AIC Policy Coordinator Corrina Gibbs writes about the report in our Landbridge blog.


Do you have clients who could qualify for Catchment Sensitive Farming grants?
The application window for the Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme opens on 1 March 2013 and will run until 30 April 2013. The scheme has been offered to land managers in priority catchments in England since 2007 to support the improvement or installation of facilities that would benefit water quality by reducing diffuse pollution from agriculture. These could include watercourse fencing, roofing for manure stores, pesticide loading and wash down areas. It's a competitive scheme so funding isn't guaranteed but details are available on line on the Natural England website.

Are we overwhelmed with information in this age of Google?
In our Landbridge blog Charles Leventon who manages the Harper Adams Openfields initiative asks how we might cut through the sometimes confusing array of knowledge resources and simplify access to information.

Ecosystems Markets Task Force highlights five priority recommendations
The Government-commissioned Ecosystem Markets Task Force, has published its recommendations on up and coming opportunities for UK business that could also benefit our natural environment. The Task Force has highlighted five priorities among its recommendations:

- Biodiversity offsetting: securing net gain for nature through planning and development
- Bio-energy and anaerobic digestion on farms: closing the loop using farm waste to generate energy
- Sustainable local woodfuel: active sustainable management supporting local economies
- Nature-based certification and labelling: connecting consumers with nature
- Water cycle catchment management: integrating nature into water, waste water and flood management

The report is being delivered to three Secretaries of State - Environment, Food &
Rural Affairs; Business, Innovation & Skills; and Energy & Climate Change - through the Green Economy Council, and focuses on identifying win-win business opportunities that deliver substantial benefits for both nature and business. Read the full report.

Modelling with stakeholders to support catchment management: Why? When? How?
A workshop at the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury, London, on 11th April 2013, 10:00 - 16:00, organised by Tobi Krueger, NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow, to feed back lessons from the participatory modelling work he has been carrying out in the Tamar catchment, the Teme catchment and the Norfolk Broads and to look at the role and scope of participatory modelling in the wider Catchment Based Approach. Places are limited, contact Tobi Krueger for more information. Email:; Phone: 01603 592922

What research is being carried out in the Demonstration Test Catchments?
Research is being carried out in three Demonstration Test Catchments: the Eden in Cumbria, the Avon in Wiltshire and the Wensum in Norfolk, to investigate how diffuse pollution can be cost-effectively controlled to improve and maintain water quality. The project has just published a new policy and practice note explaining the role of the Demonstration Test Catchments and the work that is being carried out. A new website also is bringing together evidence about diffuse pollution and providing a forum for discussion and knowledge exchange
On-line report.

Modelling with stakeholders to support catchment management: Why? When? How?
A workshop at the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury, London, on 11th April 2013, 10:00 - 16:00, organised by Tobi Krueger, NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow, to feed back lessons from the participatory modelling work he has been carrying out in the Tamar catchment, the Teme catchment and the Norfolk Broads and to look at the role and scope of participatory modelling in the wider Catchment Based Approach. Places are limited, contact Tobi Krueger for more information. Email:; Phone: 01603 592922

Will the CAP fit?
Everyone wants to know just how the CAP is going to affect us here in the UK, who is going to be better or worse off, will Environmental Stewardship carry on in a similar form, or will it be all change? And will the results be good or bad news for farmers, consumers and the environment? Oliver Lee from Andersons' Farm Business Consultants looks behind some of the wording of the European Multi-annual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 and the associated Common Agricultural Policy reform in our latest Landbridge blog.

Do you have clients who could qualify for Catchment Sensitive Farming grants?
The application window for the Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme opens on 1 March 2013 and will run until 30 April 2013. The scheme has been offered to land managers in priority catchments in England since 2007 to support the improvement or installation of facilities that would benefit water quality by reducing diffuse pollution from agriculture. These could include watercourse fencing, roofing for manure stores, pesticide loading and wash down areas. It's a competitive scheme so funding isn't guaranteed but details are available on line on the Natural England website.

What research is being carried out in the Demonstration Test Catchments?
Research is being carried out in three Demonstration Test Catchments: the Eden in Cumbria, the Avon in Wiltshire and the Wensum in Norfolk, to investigate how diffuse pollution can be cost-effectively controlled to improve and maintain water quality. The project has just published a new policy and practice note explaining the role of the Demonstration Test Catchments and the work that is being carried out. A new website also is bringing together evidence about diffuse pollution and providing a forum for discussion and knowledge exchange

Only connect ....
The recent Foresight report on "Future Identities, changing identities in the UK: the next 10 years", highlights the importance of technology and "hyper-connectivity". What does this really mean for rural businesses and the people who advise them?  Rural Business Adviser Simon Haley is from a generation that has embraced this technology, for both business and social life.  In his blog he shares some insights.

We need to talk about farming
Succession is often a sore point on family farms, sometimes it’s too difficult even to talk about. Research undertaken by John Martin during his Nuffield Scholarship may not come up with any magic solutions but he has clarified the problem in a very useful way and makes helpful recommendations for these family enterprises. On-line report.

LWEC new funding for tree health
The Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) Partnership will shortly be announcing on its website ( a new initiative to fund research into tree pests and pathogens, and associated plant biosecurity. At least £6.5M will be available for research projects. Trees make a huge impact on our rural and urban landscapes and contribute to a vital part of our heritage, rural economy and well-being. In the last few years, several new pests and pathogens have emerged as significant risks to the Uk's woodlands,commercial forests and urban trees. The outbreak of ash dieback at the end of 2012 illustrates how rapidly new diseases can take hold, and the scale of the threat they can pose to trees. This new initiative will require collaboration between specialists in tree or forest research, and leading-edge scientists from the wider natural, biological, social, economic or other relevant research
communities who have other, broader expertise that could help to advance our knowledge about tree health and disease. There will be a Town Meeting in London on 14 February where LWEC will be providing more information. This meeting will also provide an opportunity for researchers who do not currently work on tree health but who have expertise which may be relevant to this area to meet potential collaborative partners, and learn more about current research in this area. The Town Meeeting is free of charge to attend but please email to reserve a place.

Farming doesn't just give us food
A new report from this year's Oxford Farming Conference -"Farming's Value to Society - realising the opportunity" by SP Carruthers, DM Winter and NJ Evans - looks at the breadth of value that farming brings to society and how our attitudes have changed. The report recommends that farming should deliver more food with provenance and build direct producer-consumer relationships, while enhancing the value it brings to biodiversity and our quality of life. The full report is available on line or a briefing based on it may be downloaded from RuSource Openfields.

Looking for a brief guide to different farming arrangements?
Tenancies, licences, profit a prendre, contract farming, share farming: a straightforward guide to farming arrangments by Judy Pearson is now available online via RuSource

Rural Business Adviser Simon Haley welcomes Defra's latest initiative to encourage young people into farming. He wants young people to be better informed about the range of opportunities available to them in the agricultural sector - and he has signed up as a STEMnet ambassador to help to make it happen. Read his blog for Landbridge.

Report points way for development of veterinary services for the food chain
The Veterinary Development Council (VDC) has issued a report on how the provision of veterinary services should be adapted to the need for safer, nutritious and affordable food for the population and for protecting the health and welfare of farm animals. The VDC was the brainchild of Relu director Philip Lowe who proposed its appointment in his 2009 report, Unlocking Potential, on the future of veterinary services.

Catchment change calendar targets farmers
The Catchment Change Network has developed a calendar for farmers and land managers that aims to help reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture by spreading the word about agricultural best practice. The messages highlight 12 key mitigation methods, one for each month of the year. The calendar is available on line or hard copies may be obtained from Marion Walker email

Farmers say they are encouraging wildlife outside AE schemes
According to recent discussions on the AgriChatUK forum, many farmers are taking measures to encourage wildlife, even if they are not taking part in Environmental Stewardship schemes. Land managers taking part in the discussion gave an impressive and enthusiastsic account of the range of wildlife they see every day. Read a full report on RuSource.

LWEC knowledge exchange guidelines launched
Effective exchange of information, ideas, expertise and people between research teams and research users is essential. New knowledge exchange guidelines launched by LWEC draw on good practice from across the Relu programme and other LWEC activities. In particular, research from Relu's Sustainable Learning project provided the basis for the guidelines. They may be downloaded from the LWEC website.

Do we have to choose between environmental benefits and animal welfare?

Land based professionals could achieve better results all round if they worked more closely together, argues Farm and Environment Consultant Choe Palmer in the Landbridge blog.

National Audit Office critical of farm oversight
A National Audit Office report criticises the fragmented nature of farm oversight and says it does not represent good value for money.The report also concludes that the oversight bodies miss opportunities to coordinate activity and share intelligence. Read the full report.

AgriChatUk tests opinion on levy boards
In a lively discussion on levy boards at AgrichatUk’s regular Twitter session, there was good support for work being done by the boards, particularly when it came to research, technical knowledge transfer and promoting products abroad. Some organic producers felt that their levy didn't produce sufficient payback especially in the cereals and horticultural sectors but the boards defended their work and insisted that organic levy-payers were getting value. There were calls for more transparency and accountability, for members of Boards to be elected and for all meeting minutes of the Boards to be published. The final word goes to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board who tweeted: "How to get the most out of the levy boards? Get involved in our work." Read the full summary on RuSource.

Can Payment for Ecosystem Services bring environmental benefits?
The services provided from nature are essential to life on Earth, but do we value them sufficiently? Would Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) - ie putting a market value on them - be beneficial? A new policy and practice note in the Relu series concludes that PES will not provide all the answers we need but could prove to be a useful policy tool for better conservation of natural resources. It draws on evidence from across the Living With Environmental Change Programme, examines, the current situation and makes recommendations for future directions. Press release

Connecting NIAs with research
Relu and other programmes within Living With Environmental Change have been working with the new Nature Improvement Areas to provide relevant information from the research programme that can help NIAs to fulfil their remit to create meaningful partnerships that benefit wildlife and people. A new policy and practice note in the Relu series gives some pointers for the partnerships and will help them to make useful contacts with researchers.Press release

Research Council report recognises Relu impact
An impact evaluation of the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme, commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, has found that “Relu was successful in generating a portfolio of a significant number and diversified range of types of impacts and impacts-in-progress in a variety of contexts.”  The report, carried out by Dr Laura Meagher and the Technology Development Group, says that “there was sound evidence for instrumental impacts” and “Relu has built a solid base for future knowledge exchange, within and beyond the specific researcher/stakeholder relationships forged.” Report part one Report part two (including case studies)