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The Sustainable Intensification Platform

The largest specialist group of its kind in the UK

Sustainable Intensification Platform

What is SIP?

The Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (SIP) is a multi-partner research platform funding by Defra to explore the opportunities and risks for sustainable intensification, from a range of perspectives and at a range of scales across England and Wales.

There are three linked multi-partner, inter-disciplinary research projects:

SIP 1 Integrated Farm Management for improved economic, environmental and social performance.

SIP 2 Opportunities and risks for farming and the environment at a landscape scale

SIP 3 A scoping study on the influence of external drivers and actors on the sustainability and productivity of English and Welsh farming.

The above projects which started in 2014, will run for three years and will investigate ways to increase farm productivity while reducing environmental impacts and enhancing the ecosystem services that agricultural land provides to society.

This approach whereby farmland is managed to maximise economic, environmental and social outcomes, is termed Sustainable Intensification.

The above projects, which started in 2014, will run for three years and will investigate ways to increase farm productivity while reducing environmental impacts and enhancing the ecosystem services that agricultural land provides to society.  This approach, whereby farmland is managed to maximise economic, environmental and social outcomes, is termed Sustainable Intensification (SI).

Want to know more about SIP?
Download the information sheet here which explains the project in more detail.

The projects

SIP 1

Will be delivered by a consortium of 30 collaborating universities, research institutes, farming industry and environmental organisations led by NIAB, will:

  • Develop improved indicators and standardised methodologies for land managers and their advisers to measure the economic, environmental and social performance of farms
  • Identify Integrated farm management practices for the sustainable intensification of agriculture (at farm level).  Examples include practices to improve productivity, reduce costs, improve resource use efficiency, control pests and diseases, mitigate greenhouse gases and pollution and provide habitats for biodiversity.
  • Investigate ways of better communicating complex messages to farmers and propose innovative decision support approaches.

 SIP 2

Is led by the University of Exeter and will focus on a collaborative approach bringing agricultural, environmental and social scientists from 20 organisations together with farmers in seven landscape study areas to understand the collaborative actions that are required to achieve Sustainable Intensification on these scales.  SIP 2 will require an understanding of the spatial variation in land capability (for food production and other ecosystem services) and environmental risks, and the need for collaborative decision making between multiple farms and governance to achieve these outcomes.

SIP 3

Has been designed around a scoping study led by ADAS, and examined the behavioural responses of land managers and farmers to external drivers, investigated the influence of the food-supply chain on farm management and assessed market and non-market mechanisms to drive SI.

Study landscapes and associated study farm locations.

The majority of SIP 1 research will focus on 5 farm platforms. 

These are located at:

  • North Wyke and Duchy Future Farm
  • Henfaes
  • The Allerton Project (Loddington)
  • Nafferton (Newcastle University Farm)
  • Morley

Meanwhile, SIP 2 will investigate landscape-scale interactions in surrounding or nearby catchments:

  • Taw (Devon)
  • Conwy (Wales)
  • Upper Welland (East Midlands)
  • Nafferton (Northumberland)
  • Wensum and Yare (Norfolk)

What will be achieved?

The planned £4.5M investment in SIP will develop more integrated and collaborative ways of funding, conducting and applying agricultural research around sustainable intensification.

SIP 1 will aim to:

  • Establish and strengthen links between a wide variety of partners including researchers, farmers, supply chains and environmental organisations
  • Produce a solid base for research
  • Better quantify the outcomes of Integrated Farm Management techniques and produce stronger evidence that they contribute to sustainable farming.
  • Push the boundaries of current IFM practices and develop more innovative practices
  • Guide more farmers in adopting IFM
  • Establish better ways of measuring the impacts of specific practices as well as the overall change of approach and performance, through the development of improved indicators and integrated metrics

The SIP 2 project will also:

  • Develop a landscape typology to show land-use opportunities and risks in relation to sustainable intensification
  • Identify where coordinated action is required at a landscape scale to achieve sustainable intensification and design and test methods of collaborative working
  • Understand the social and economic constraints to collaboration and investigate mechanisms through which this can be encouraged
  • Design and test a sustainable intensification benchmarking system

How can I find out more?

There are a range of opportunities to find out more about SIP

  • The project website is now live and accessible
  • The Rural Business School website will publicise details of all SIP activity happening in the south west, so keep an eye on the events pages and back on this page
  • The platform has a Twitter account @sipresearch

Download the first newsletter from the SIP platform.

Download second newsletter from the SIP platform.

Download third newsletter from the SIP platform.

Download fourth newsletter from the SIP platform.

This first edition essentially forms an introduction to SIP and outlines the planned research as well as containing some wider ‘thought pieces’ and views from in and around the Platform.

If you would like to receive the next newsletter direct please email Jennifer Preston.