The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is an independent, not-for-profit research institute carrying out excellent environmental science with impact. We seek to understand the environment, how it sustains life, and the human impact on it – so that together, people and nature can prosper.
ASSIST datasets and tools: The ASSIST project is committed to developing new ways to share research data in a way that supports farmers in making sustainable decisions. At Cereals 2020 we are launching the ASSIST E-Planner tool, a free, web-based application which helps farmers to explore the suitability of their land for different environmental management options. The tool uses a wide range of environmental datasets derived from satellites, airborne sensors and national surveys to map suitability for four key management options at 5m resolution, for every agricultural field in GB. These maps are then presented in an easy to use interface allowing farmers to determine the most suitable environmental use for an area they're considering taking out of production, or to find the most suitable area on their farm for a given option. A variety of other datasets and tools from ASSIST can be found here: https://assist.ceh.ac.uk/informatics-and-tools
ASSIST large scale experimental platforms: Developing sustainable approaches for agriculture needs solution that are not only effective but are also practical, fitting within the management limitations of conventional arable farming systems. Our goal is to support natural processes that maintain good soil health, natural pest control and pollination that will benefit current production systems in a manner that does not impact on profitability. This will also provide the evidence base needed to support production under likely future scenarios where reliance on agrochemical solutions may be less dependable, a result of resistance, regulatory removal or increased cost (e.g. a pesticide tax). Across 18 arable farms the ASSIST project is trialling integrated management systems that use a range of both widely used (cover crops, organic matter addition, and field margins) and novel (in-field flower strips) management approaches to boost, maintain and ensure within field coverage of these key ecosystem processes. By undertaking intensive monitoring over 5 years we aim to validate where these management approaches are most effective, what situations they work in and importantly where they don’t deliver. ASSIST is ultimately aiming to provide a toolbox of management approaches that will allow land managers to ‘farm’ biodiversity not just for its own value, but also as a tool for their benefit.
AI-driven mobile application: We will be showing a first look at our latest mobile app ‘E-Surveyor’ which enables farmers to simply and easily assess the quality of wildlife habitats on their farm and learn more about the biodiversity these habitats support. Backed by the latest AI, the app can automatically identify hundreds of plant species from photographs taken on your mobile. By photographing all the plants in your wildlife habitat you can generate a report which provides information on how successful your seedmix has been, the wildlife that is supported by the plant species you have grown, and how your success compares to other farmers. You can see a sneak peak of the app here (https://youtu.be/5NV3e17jhsc)