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Informing the way forward for DEFRA grassland production R&D to support biodiversity outcomes - IF0102

In addition to research driving Environmental Stewardship, Defra has supported a significant portfolio of research to enable business led innovation in grassland management. The enhancement of the biodiversity value of grassland and other grazed habitats through informing the development of policy with respect to farming systems and innovation in business led farm practice is a major policy driver behind this production orientated research. In addition to work on grassland flora and grazing, wider research in support of grassland related biodiversity outcomes ranges from research supporting plant and animal breeding through to animal nutrition and husbandry. Defra wants to ensure that this type of research is effective in relation to the outcomes sought. Defra seeks to ensure that it is founded on a clear understanding of the impact of the research on farm practice with respect to the biodiversity outcomes sought.

This study will summarise ongoing and recently completed research. As one basis for the input into the direction of future research, the study will briefly evaluate the relevance and effectiveness of the research approaches and targets to the biodiversity outcomes sought. Following on from this, the main purpose is to provide guidance to Defra on if and how biodiversity outcomes should be supported by this type of production research in the future.

This study is being commissioned on the advice of the cross-Defra Environment and Landscape R&D Working Group, informed by the Research Priorities Group Report. It is being procured by the DG for Sustainable Farming and Food.
Specific objectives of the project

1. To assess the effectiveness of recent past and current R&D in meeting its biodiversity driven research objectives.
2. To assess the relevance of recent past and current grassland production research targets with respect to Defra’s biodiversity objectives.
3. To provide input into the identification and prioritisation of future research targets to support production-led innovation to increase in the biodiversity value of grassland.


· Desk based study of existing research proposals and plans, and the reports arising from recently completed research.
· Discussions with principal research scientists as appropriate.
· Assessment the overall cohesiveness and direction of the relevant R&D.
· Assessment of the research hypotheses and methodologies/approaches.
· Assessment of the effectiveness of the interface between grassland production research and research driven to support Environmental Stewardship. (mainly the Species Rich Grassland (BD14) and Uplands (BD12) programme areas.
· Analysis of the potential biodiversity benefits that can be realistically expected from Defra research aimed at production-led changes in grassland farm management, in addition to those arising from the interventions driven by Environmental Stewardship schemes.
· Synthesis and report to Defra.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Informing the way forward for DEFRA grassland production R&D to support biodiversity outcomes   (276k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2006

Cost: £35,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Edinburgh
Air Pollution              
Environmental Protection              
Farm Management