AERU AGRICULTURE & ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH UNIT
 

Case studies

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)

  • 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.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • EIA of US sugar beet and sugar cane production: This project carried out an EIA of sugar beet and sugar cane grown in the United States on behalf of Western Sugar.
  • 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

Systems sustainability

  • EIA of US sugar beet and sugar cane production: This project carried out an EIA of sugar beet and sugar cane grown in the United States on behalf of Western Sugar.
  • Sustainable urban weed management: This project sought 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

  • 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.

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

University of Hertfordshire
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University of Hertfordshire, 2017.