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Assessing the Potential of No-Till Farming across European Soils.

Conservation tillage practices such as the no-till method (NT) reduce disturbance to arable fields by minimising or abandoning tilling practices like ploughing or harrowing. NT methods have been very effective in tackling many soil threats, from erosion to health. Though widely adopted in many countries across the world, the uptake of NT is very limited in Europe. This project will investigate the current adoption constraints of NT in Europe.

Duration: From 2016 – 2020.

This project is led by a project team based at the University of Sheffield. No-Till (NT) farming is gaining huge popularity, with the global agricultural area farmed by NT increasing exponentially. Given the comparatively slow uptake of NT methods in Europe, and the many benefits associated with NT farming, there is an urgent need to understand the farming contexts in which NT can offer the greatest benefits to European agriculture, and to communicate these findings clearly to farmers, policy makers and the agricultural sector.

The projects aims are to:

1. Analyse the constraints of NT adoption across all available case studies and identify potential socio-environmental barriers.

2. Undertake a preliminary assessment of the impact of NT farming on soil, environmental quality and seedling establishment.

3. Produce holistic farm metrics of the socio-environmental suitability of NT methods in the European context.

The adoption of NT will be investigated using interdisciplinary approaches from across the natural and social sciences). A doctoral research studentship will develop and consolidate a new European network of stakeholders. It will also generate pilot data and evidence to support large scale projects on the identified opportunities for improving European soils through NT methods. The research programme reflects the strategic objectives of the Grantham Centre of Sustainable Futures in Sheffield, bringing interdisciplinary perspectives to bear on issues of soil conservation and management.

Researchers involved in this project include: Manoj Menon, Anna Krzywoszynska, Jennifer Veenstra and Colin Smith.