The Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (SIP), funded by Defra and Welsh Government, is a multi-partner research programme investigating ways to increase farm output whilst enhancing the environment and countryside. This approach, whereby farmland is managed to maximise economic, environmental and social outcomes, is termed Sustainable Intensification (SI).
There are two linked, inter-disciplinary research projects:
Project 1: Focused on farm-scale SI, looking at tools and practices to improve farm productivity and the environment, around a theme of Integrated Farm Management (IFM).
Project 2: Focused on landscape-scale SI, looking at optimising land-management decisions for farm output, the environment and local communities, around a theme of collaboration and coordinated action.
In addition a scoping study was undertaken on the influence of external drivers and actors on the sustainability and productivity of English and Welsh farming (Completed, publicly available).
The SIP is working with the farming industry, local communities and environmental organisations, supply chains and markets, government and policy, establishing a platform for ongoing research and knowledge exchange.
SIP work at NIAB
NIAB is the lead organisation on SIP Project 1, which is being delivered by a consortium of 26 collaborating partners including universities, research institutes, farming industry and environment organisations.
The research is focused on three main areas:
1. Farm practices
The SIP study farms and landscape areas represent key farming types and locations across England and Wales. They provide the physical platform for the SIP and have a vital role in supporting change towards sustainable intensification.
The farms are evaluating and demonstrating the adoption of specific management practices, associated with IFM, within major crop and livestock production systems. Examples include practices to increase productivity, reduce costs, improve resource use efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions or pollution, and improve soil structure and biology.
2. Measuring farm performance
We are developing improved indicators and methodologies to enable farmers, other land managers and advisers to assess and benchmark both the economic and the environmental performance of farms, and to understand how farming practices and social factors influence this.
3. Supporting decision making on-farm
We are investigating ways of better communicating complex messages around SI, including the role and effectiveness of decision support tools, and exploring approaches to an improved guidance framework.