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Mixed farming research to address climate change challenges

Researchers at Aberystwyth University are collaborating on a €7m international project to help farmers to adopt more innovative agricultural approaches to make their businesses resilient and adaptable to external challenges.

Through the four year project, researchers will work with European farmers to help them to implement a mixed farming approach, which is more efficient and mitigates the impact of climate change.

Numerous benefits can be derived from interactions within mixed farming systems which integrate crop, livestock and forestry activities.

Mixed farming can also bring about resilience to a wide variety of challenges, including extreme weather, market forces, and political, biological, and social change.

Academics from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) and the Department of Psychology at Aberystwyth University are collaborating with 19 academic and industry partners from 10 European countries on the project, which is being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

The objective of the research is to drive the development and implementation of efficient and resilient European Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MiFAS), which optimise productivity and resource use.  The project will consider the impacts on crop and livestock production, livestock health and welfare, soil structure and fertility, carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

Dr Pip Nicholas-Davies, who is leading the work at AberystwythUniversity, commented:

“In this research we will work with groups of farmers in order to adapt their methods to meet the threats of climate change and other challenges.

“We want to test the idea that more mixed farming and agroforestry systems have increased resilience and climate adaptation potential. Those mixed farms manage resources and use nutrients in ways that mean they could be part of the solution to these challenges.

“From a wider perspective, we can look at farm efficiency as the ability to simultaneously increase production, decrease inputs, and reduce negative environmental and social impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions. This results in more efficient and environmentally-friendly agriculture, and that’s good for everyone.”

As part of the project, Aberystwyth University academics will work in the UK with researchers at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) and a network of farmers to develop a landscape scale mixed farming collaboration between specialist cattle and arable farmers.