Case studies

Carbon footprinting

  • Establishing a field-based evidence base for the impact of agri-environment options on soil carbon and climate change mitigation: AERU were contracted by Natural England to update the findings of previous work which examined the climate change mitigation effects (through emission reduction and carbon sequestration) of the former Environmental Stewardship scheme (2005-2014), in the context of the Countryside Stewardship scheme launched in 2015.
  • OSCAR: This project aimed to support the development of more holistic Rural Development Policy (RDP) measures that not only tackled rural issues, but also addressed climate change objectives (mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change).
  • Climate change mitigation potential of farms in the EU: This is a major new EU project in which AERU is leading a team of researchers from seven countries, focusing on the GHG emission and carbon sequestration potential of major farm types around Europe. It is hoped to develop a tentative model for integrated whole farm assessment, with the aim of encouraging farm practices that minimise emissions and maximise sequestration.
  • Impact of proposed NVZ Action Programme measures on GHG emissions: The purpose of the project was to assess the impact of proposed NVZ Action Programme measures on greenhouse gas emissions. It was carried out as part of the Full Impact Assessment for the proposed legislation, and looked at the impact of each of the proposed measures on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the overall impact of the legislation.
  • Climate change mitigation effects of Environmental Stewardship: This project adopted a Life Cycle Analysis approach to quantify net GHG emission for each management option and calculate a Global Warming Potential balance to enable the current contribution each makes towards global warming to be identified.
  • GREENERGY: This project examined the energy consumption characteristics of European glasshouse production systems, and produced a tool for auditing energy efficiency in greenhouses, a set of technical improvement measures and a guideline for the optimisation of energy consumption.

Pesticide profiling

  • Review of published exposure to pesticides data for residents and bystanders: The aim of this project was to undertake a number of systematic reviews to collate data and evaluate it in terms of its quality and suitability for upgrading EFSA's data on resident and bystander exposure.
  • Pesticide load indicator: In order to inform and improve its policy on encouraging the use of safer and more sustainable crop protection chemicals, Waitrose collaborated with AERU to develop an indicator approach for identifying risks to human health, biodiversity and the environment.
  • PPDB: The PPDB (Pesticide Properties DataBase) is a comprehensive relational database of pesticide physicochemical and ecotoxicological data, developed by AERU with additional input from the EU-funded FOOTPRINT project. It is freely available online, and can be purchased in MS Access format for inclusion in research projects and regulatory assessments.
  • FOOTPRINT: This research project is part of the 6th Framework Programme, and has developed a suite of three pesticide risk prediction and management tools, for use at different scales. AERU have developed the farm-scale tool FOOT-FS, which aims to assist in the development of environmentally sound pesticide strategies by identifying the activities and pathways that most contribute to the contamination of water resources, and providing advice on mitigation.
  • p-EMA: This project developed a risk based tool for the assessment and evaluation of farm pesticide use. The methodology developed was based on regulatory risk assessment methods and these were adapted to make them responsive to the local site and farming practices as far as current scientific understanding allows.

Nutrient balancing

  • Nutrient budgeting in the Ythan NVZ: The Ythan Project aims to involve local people in protecting and enhancing the river Ythan. As part of this, AERU developed a whole farm and field level Nutrient Budgeting package for use on-farm.
  • Development of an organic conversion planning tool: AERU and the Institute of Rural Studies at the University of Wales Aberystwyth developed this software, known as OrgPlan, in collaboration with Rothamsted, SAC (The Scottish Agricultural College) and Elm Farm Research Centre.


  • Assured Food Standards (AFS) evaluation projects: These two projects compared the standards for six AFS schemes to the Cross Compliance measures (so as to identify the gaps and commonalties), and compared the six standards to each other, to identify areas where harmonisation was possible.
  • Environmental Management for Agriculture (EMA): This is an award winning computer software package that provides a comprehensive suite of tools, information and assessment routines designed to help the farming industry improve its environmental performance. The software is for the 'public good' and aims to help develop a more sustainable agriculture.
  • LEAF audit computerisation: This project developed a digital version of LEAF’s paper based audit with the addition of integrated support information. In addition, AERU developed a management and analysis package which processes the returned audits and permits users to benchmark their performance against that of others.

Full details of these and other relevant projects can be found in our Projects section.

University of Hertfordshire
University of Hertfordshire, 2017.