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Farming Systems Research

The average farm rotation uses a range of crops and cultivation approaches. It is therefore important that research considers the rotation as a whole and the interaction of the individual elements (as well as looking at these aspects in isolation); however, long term rotational system studies are becoming increasingly rare. Recognising both the practical and strategic importance of these areas, dedicated farming systems research is being actively pursued within NIAB TAG, and our unique expertise continues to push the boundaries in this type of research. 

Examples of current research projects include:

STAR Project

The STAR Project - Sustainability Trial for Arable Rotations

This study is a long-term rotation experiment delivered through NIAB TAG and supported by The Felix Thornley Cobbold Trust. The STAR Project is examining the interaction of rotation and cultivation techniques. The impact of rotation and cultivation on weed management and soil condition is becoming increasingly apparent as the study progresses. With regard to cultivation system the highest margins are associated with a managed approach. With regard to rotation the highest margins are associated with winter cropping systems. Changes in gross margin ranking are being seen as the study progresses.

Useful documents

The New Farming Systems (NFS) project

This is a series of long term studies seeking to develop bio-sustainable cropping systems for conventional arable cropping. The programme is funded by The Morley Agricultural Foundation (TMAF) and The JC Mann Trust and is being carried at Morley (Norfolk) on a sandy clay loam soil. Research within the NFS programme is seeking to maintain or increase system output while at the same time seeking to improve efficiency, sustainability and resilience within conventional arable cropping systems.

Experiments are ostensibly examining three inter-related themes: fertility building, approaches to tillage and the use of soil amendments. The experiments within the NFS programme are fully replicated, large plot studies that use farm scale equipment and techniques.

Summary fliers for the New Farming Systems project are available through the following links:


Selected published papers from the NIAB Farming Systems research programme are also available through the following links:


Research reviews

Reports, reviews and video clips from a range of NAC and other openly funded research projects from across the industry (e.g. selected AAB papers and openly funded research reviews) are available online to NAC supporters (registered supporters only, login required). Samples of this material are available through the following links:

  • Soil fertility – a video presentation clip on improving  and managing soil fertility.
  • Fungicide response monitoring – a trial report for a long term study examining fungicide response monitoring in winter wheat;
  • Establishment systems in oilseed rape – a trial report for a study examining the use of precision drilling systems in oilseed rape;
  • Sugar beet periodic lift - a trial report for a study to determine the yield benefit of based fungicide programmes in sugar beet with respect to lifting date;
  • Malting barley event – a series of video clips from papers presented at a joint NAC malting barley event in 2013.