The North Wyke Farm Platform is a world-class facility and a key member of the Global Farm Platform http://www.globalfarmplatform.org/ which attracts researchers from different communities and disciplines seeking to develop sustainable ruminant production systems [http://www.nature.com/news/agriculture-steps-to-sustainable-livestock-1.14796].
It provides access to a range of in situ state-of-the-art instrumentation in hydrologically isolated catchments to better address key issues in sustainable agriculture related to:
- Replacement of N fertiliser with N-fixation by legumes - achieving a reduction in energy and GHG emissions for both environmental and economic reasons.
- Using plants to manage soils and hydrology in green-engineering solutions to flooding.
- Efficient phosphorus cycling in grassland systems.
- Resilience of soil biota and their functions in land-use change.
- Impact of grassland management on C cycling and storage - C sequestration.
- Water resource use efficiency.
- Systems modelling to design optimal grassland production systems.
The Farm Platform provides three farming systems in farmlets, each consisting of five component catchments comprising approx. 21 ha in total per farmlet. Each farmlet is managed using alternative approaches to livestock production from grassland and measurements on water, air and soil are also recorded. Much of this data has a high (15 min) temporal resolution, such as water flow and water chemistry data measured at a flume for each of the 15 catchments, which can comprise either single or multiple fields. As a National Capability, the data collected are made publicly available.
At present, the main 'treatments' on the platform are:
- Permanent pasture: improvement through use of inorganic fertilisers.
- Increased use of legumes: replacing nitrogen fertilisers with biological fixation using sown legume and grass mixtures.
- Planned reseeding: regular renewal, providing opportunities for introducing innovative varieties with desirable traits. Currently, high sugar grasses and deep rooting grasses are studied.
Link to the main website here.
Link to the data portal here.