A unique national and global research facility linked to real-world farming.
In partnership with
Rothamsted Research North Wyke Farm is the world’s most instrumented grazing platform, coupling three self- contained ‘farmlets’ with an analytical laboratory to measure changes to soil, water and air, enabling the impact of grazing ruminant livestock to be characterised. Precision yield and quality assessment in real-time can be carried out as grass is harvested to characterise the whole crop, utilizing sensors mounted on grass harvesting equipment for more precise assessment of grass quality and yield, accounting for variation across the field.
The facility is used by national and international collaborators from a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines, with particularly strong capability to accommodate studies on pasture-based livestock production systems. Research is helping identify land management strategies to optimise the transfer of essential nutrients from soil to crops, livestock, and then into food, thereby contributing to a healthy diet and cleaner natural environment at the same time.
The core data collected from across the Platform are available to researchers and collaborators via a data portal:
Robert Orr Small Ruminant Facility
The Robert Orr Small Ruminant Facility is an integral part of the Farm Platform. It can house 400 or more ewes and up to 60 goats, with group and single pen facilities for feeding and behavioural research trials, including 24 automatic feeding pens. The flocks reared on the Farm Platform’s different farming systems are separated over winter to examine and compare the environmental and efficiency benefits of each. Nutrients taken in, animal growth, urine and faeces produced, and the greenhouse gases being emitted by the animals, individually or in groups, are measured during housing.
Key research expertise
This internationally unique facility allows research outputs to be relevant to real-world food producers and makes the platform an excellent venue for knowledge exchange events. Particular areas of expertise include:
Ruminant health & nutrition
Trade-off analyses for farm management and interventions
Hydrology and water-based emissions.
Enhanced efficiency with which livestock can be finished off on grass – improving weight gain while reducing feed cost or time on farm and lowering environmental emissions. Improved modelling of grass production that will drive next generation pasture models for pasture rationing management tools and increased efficiency with which grass is turned into meat or milk.
Supporting the Grand Challenges facing livestock food production:
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