The Crop-Soil-Water Systems Group applies systems thinking, and ecological and economic principles to improve the efficiency and profitability of crop production, whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing soil health and water quality.

Managers seeking profitable and sustainable crop production must understand and balance the various ecological and economic interactions between management, crop growth and development, soil processes, and the climate including water availability. The need to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible requires new approaches to crop, soil, and water management including life cycle and whole system analysis, holistic approaches, modelling, and stakeholder engagement.

Supporting your organisation

We can provide expertise on crop-soil-water systems including agroforestry, conservation tillage, life cycle assessment, regenerative agriculture, socio-economic and biophysical crop modelling, and stakeholder and whole system analysis. We lead bespoke research and consultancies and masters and research degree programmes in these topics. The Group also manages a monthly crop-soil-water systems seminar programme for staff and students at Cranfield University.

Our facilities and resources

We have made and/or continue to make significant contributions to the understanding of wetland systems in the UK, agroforestry and mixed systems in Europe, plantation crops in Africa and Asia, and the sustainable intensification of agriculture in West and East Africa.

Some of our research is based on experimental work, such as field experiments on agroforestry systems and new biomass crops in the UK, tea research in East Africa, and cocoa plantations in Indonesia.

Some of our research is based on the development of biophysical and bio-economic crop simulation models to determine the effect of changes in climate or management on crop yield, environmental impacts, and financial and economic outputs. These include Yield-SAFE and Farm-SAFE for agroforestry systems and LINGRA-N-Plus for grassland growth. These models are publicly available.

Some of our research is based on stakeholder analyses using social science methods including the use of surveys and interviews.

Collaboration and clients

Our group has obtained funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) and Horizon 2020, The UK Research and Innovation (NERC), agricultural businesses such as Unilever, and landowners such as the Ministry of Defence.