Set up in 2013, this long term experiment was designed around 3 different rotations focussing on three different levels of diversity; Simple, Medium and Diverse.
It was studied by 2 PHD students- Samuel Leigh and Erica Degani
Dr Erica Degani
The design of landscapes based on ‘ecological intensification’ of agriculture, which aims to maintain or enhance agricultural production through the promotion of biodiversity-derived ecosystem services, can potentially enhance food security sustainably. Appropriate management of service-providing organisms underpinning supporting and regulating ecosystem services, can potentially minimize external inputs thus minimizing long-term environmental degradation while maximizing production. Temporal diversity through crop rotations is one approach proposed as a way to ecologically intensify food production and at the same time increase the resilience of production systems. Crop rotation is one of the oldest agronomic techniques and can potentially reduce the spread of pests and diseases as well as economic risks. However, there is a knowledge gap relating to the interactions, including potential trade-offs and/or synergies, between temporal crop diversity and multiple biodiversity-derived ecosystem services. Additionally, the new EU Common Agricultural Policy requires farmers to undertake measures including crop diversification in order to receive subsidies. Therefore it is vital that these interactions are quantified and understood as the optimization of multiple biodiversity-derived ecosystem services can potentially result in more sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.
Specific work at CRU
The study compares 3 rotations along a diversity gradient in a randomized complete block design with four replicates, using space-for-time substitution. Pollination service and pollinator abundance are being measured through standardized crop watches and exclusion experiments. Soil services are being assessed through the measurement of key physical, chemical and biological indicators of soil quality.
This study aims to quantify the contribution of enhanced crop rotations to supporting and regulating ecosystem services. It focuses on pollination and soil fertility, their contribution to productivity and any potential trade offs and/or synergies between them.
plants in the field.