AERU AGRICULTURE & ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH UNIT
 

Case studies

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)

  • 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.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • The environmental impact of horticultural practices in the EA's Southern Region: Although the area of land associated with horticultural production is quite small compared to that in arable cropping, there is potential for significant levels of environmental impact due to inputs of fertilisers, pesticides, water and energy, coupled with practices such as the use of plastics (e.g. for crop protection). This project identified the broad, generic risks associated with horticultural production in the Southern Region of England considering the local environment and local issues, so as to improve the Environment Agency’s knowledge of the industry and the associated environment risks.
  • Environment and energy impact assessment for sugar beet production systems: This project evaluated the environmental impact and economic viability of a range of sugar beet production systems in the UK. It allowed a ‘sustainability’ profile for each of the 13 scenarios to be constructed enabling them to be compared in terms of their environmental and economic performance.

Risk assessment

  • The development of an on-farm risk assessment system for pesticide use for farms: 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.
  • 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.

Systems sustainability

  • Sustainable urban weed management: This project will seek to investigate the sustainability of alternative weed control methods.
  • Sustainability of the UK strawberry crop: This project, carried out in collaboration with East Malling Research and industry, applied current state-of-the-art environmental impact, economic and social impact assessment techniques to a range of strawberry production scenarios to develop a better understanding of the sustainability of the UK crop.
  • An investigation of the varietal characteristics required for sustainable agriculture: This project (carried out in collaboration with NIAB) provided DEFRA with a review of our current understanding of the variety characteristics that may be valuable in the context of existing and sustainable agricultural systems (e.g.'treated', 'untreated' and organic). This was combined with a review of physiological research that will allow these characters to be broken down into components that can be measured as part of a practical VCU (Value for Cultivation and Use) test.
  • Environment and energy impact assessment for sugar beet production systems: This project evaluated the environmental impact and economic viability of a range of sugar beet production systems in the UK. It allowed a ‘sustainability’ profile for each of the 13 scenarios to be constructed enabling them to be compared in terms of their environmental and economic performance.

Carbon footprinting

  • 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.

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

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University of Hertfordshire, 2014.