Research - Current projects
An Integrated Analysis of Scale Effects in Alternative Agricultural Systems(RELU 2nd round)
Aims:To conduct an integrated assessment of the hydrological, environmental, social and economic effects of land management, using organic farming as a case study, and encompassing scales that range from field to landscape to national.
Background:Changing land cultivation from conventional to organic practices can have significant impacts on environmental factors such as wildlife, soil and water quality, as well as changing the ways in which food is supplied, the economics of farm business and indeed the attitudes of farmers themselves. A factor that is little understood is how these depend on the scale and concentration of alternative farming systems across the landscape, from local up to the national scale.
Approaches:The project will undertake an intensive study of existing clustered and isolated organic farms, and their surrounding neighbourhoods, to address these questions. The impacts will be investigated using matched pairs of organic and conventional farms, set in landscapes that contrast greatly in the fractions of the land under organic cultivation. Within each landscape, focal organic and conventional growers on similar soils and landforms and growing similar crops will be selected for study. It will culminate in mapping out alternative scenarios for future growth of the organic sector in the UK, and evaluating the potential positive and negative effects that different patterns of organic cultivation might have, at a variety of scales, in the future.
Dissemination:Will occur by presentations at international and national conferences, journal publications, summaries and working papers on the project webpage and discussion groups on the Internet. Communication with the policy-making community will be made through contacts during the research period, the regional stakeholder workshops, and through a bi-annual newsletter.
Link to project website: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/1-4-7-7.html