Since the start of the Allerton Project in 1992, agricultural policy objectives have changed from reducing food surpluses to combining the need for food security with environmental objectives. The project has played a key role in influencing this policy through its own farm business and research activities. Game management has been shown to have beneficial effects on other wildlife through habitat management, predator control and supplementary feeding in winter. At Allerton, the abundance of many bird species soared. Habitats have been developed and created in the non-cropped area to benefit a range of terrestrial wildlife, while measures to improve water quality and aquatic wildlife have been developed within and outside the cropped area.
Wherever possible, we identify management practices that have multiple benefits, such as woodland management for game, wildlife, carbon sequestration and wood fuel for our own buildings. Reduced tillage of soil improves soil moisture retention and soil structure for crops, and reduces crop establishment costs and carbon emissions, as well as improving water quality. Our research is conducted at a range of scales, and much of it is carried out in collaboration with other research organisations and through co-supervised PhD and MSc studentships.
The results of our research are used to influence agri-environmental policy at national level, and practice at the individual farm level through our demonstration work. Visitors to the project include policy makers, regulators, farmers, advisors, students and most recently, schools. We have a number of initiatives that involve the local community in improving our shared understanding of agricultural and environmental issues.
The Allerton Project is a combination of commercial farming, research, demonstration and community engagement. This provides an exceptional opportunity to contribute to current and future development of ways of integrating agricultural and environmental objectives that are scientifically sound and practically grounded.