Biodiversity

Species differ in their responses to environmental change; some species may be more tolerant to a specific environmental stress than others. The ECN monitors a range of contrasting species with different distributions, life histories (reproduction rates, life span etc.), mobility and ecological requirements within differing ecosystems.

Atmospheric Pollution

Atmospheric pollution is a major driver of environmental change and can damage human health. Therefore, since the mid-1950s, UK and European legislation and treaties have been implemented to reduce air pollutants. ECN data show that these have been effective.

How do soil bacteria affect agriculture and global climate?

Soils are teeming with bacteria whose effects we are just beginning to understand. One of the most abundant and active groups of bacteria in soils is called Bradyrhizobium. For the first time from European soils, scientists have sequenced the genome of Bradyrhizobium, giving a glimpse into their activity and revealing differences with strains from other parts of the world.

Publication

Notes to Editors

New research programme set to explore the secrets of profitable crop rotations

Looking beyond the factors affecting crop performance within a season, an ambitious new research programme aims to uncover the features of successful crop rotations. To deliver the programme, Rothamsted Research will work in partnership with NIAB CUF, Lancaster University and the James Hutton Institute, along with 14 other organisations from across the agricultural and horticultural industries. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which commissioned the research, has awarded £1.2m in funding to address challenges in soil and water management across whole rotations.

Notes to Editors

On the surface: genes identified that give wheat and barley their matte appearance

In young plants, you can sometimes distinguish cultivated wheat varieties from wild species by their colour. Wild wheat appears either glossy green or a matte bluish-grey, but cultivated varieties are almost always the latter. The bluish-grey colour comes from a waxy film thought to increase yields and protect the plant from environmental stress, particularly drought and diseases. The genes that produce the coating have long eluded researchers, but work by an international team has now revealed them.

'UK soils need protecting and restoring'—Prof. Steve McGrath comments on Parliament Soil Health Report

One of the benefits of the UN’s declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils was that the UK Parliament took notice of what is now called “Soil Health”. According to the just-released House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee first report, soil health is multi-faceted, depending on a range of biological, chemical and physical factors.  This is well known to soil scientists and to most of those who work in agriculture.

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