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Sustainability 2013, 5(7), 3095-3115; doi:10.3390/su5073095
Article

What Do We Need to Know to Enhance the Environmental Sustainability of Agricultural Production? A Prioritisation of Knowledge Needs for the UK Food System

1,* , 2
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1 Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK 2 Faculty of Life Science, The University of Manchester, Michael Smith Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK 3 Pepsico UK and Ireland, Theale Head Office, 1600 Arlington Business Park, Theale, Reading, RG7 4SA, Berkshire, UK 4 Global Food Security Programme, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK 5 AB Agri, 64, Innovation Way, Peterborough, PE2 6FL, Canada 6 Syngenta Crop Protection B.V., Jacob Obrechtlaan 3a, Bergen op Zoom 4600AM, The Netherlands 7 Asda, Asda House, Southbank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds LS11 5AD, UK 8 Science, Technology and Innovation Studies & Innogen, University of Edinburgh, Old Surgeons' Hall, High School Yards, Edinburgh, EH1 1LZ, UK 9 Department of Environmental Science and Technology, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL, UK 10 School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK 11 Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2TL, UK 12 Welsh Government, Sustainable Land Management, Rhodfa Padarn, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales, SY23 3UR, UK 13 LEAF Chief Executive, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG, UK 14 Department of Animal & Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK 15 Department for International Development, 22 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2EG, UK 16 National Farmers Union, Agriculture House, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2TZ, UK 17 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK 18 British Growers Association Ltd, BGA House, Nottingham Road, Louth, Lincolnshire, LN11 0WB, UK 19 Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, 33 Holborn, EC1N 2HT, UK 20 School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, 23 St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, Scotland, AB24 3UU, UK 21 Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Fordingbridge, Hampshire, SP6 1EF, UK 22 University of Nottingham, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 5RD, UK 23 Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY, UK 24 Unilever UK Central Resources Ltd, Unilever House, Blackfriars, London, EC4Y 0DY, UK 25 Soil Association, South Plaza, Marlborough Street, Bristol, UK 26 Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR, UK 27 Marks & Spencer, 5 Merchant Square, Paddington Basin, London, W2 1AS, UK 28 Conservation Grade, Gransden Park, Abbotsleigh, Cambridgeshire, PE19 6TY, UK 29 Dow AgroSciences, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RN, UK 30 Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading, RG6 6AR, UK 31 British Retail Consortium, Westminster, SW1H 9BP, UK 32 Nestle UK Ltd, 1 City Place, Gatwick, RH6 0PA, UK 33 Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK 34 School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 5RD, UK 35 Waitrose, John Lewis plc, 171 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5NN, UK 36 British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU, UK 37 RSPB, the Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL, UK 38 Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, UK 39 Blackmoor Estate Ltd, Blackmoor, Liss, Hampshire, GU33 6BS, UK
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 May 2013 / Revised: 21 June 2013 / Accepted: 3 July 2013 / Published: 17 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food Chains)
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Abstract

Increasing concerns about global environmental change and food security have focused attention on the need for environmentally sustainable agriculture. This is agriculture that makes efficient use of natural resources and does not degrade the environmental systems that underpin it, or deplete natural capital stocks. We convened a group of 29 ‘practitioners’ and 17 environmental scientists with direct involvement or expertise in the environmental sustainability of agriculture. The practitioners included representatives from UK industry, non-government organizations and government agencies. We collaboratively developed a long list of 264 knowledge needs to help enhance the environmental sustainability of agriculture within the UK or for the UK market. We refined and selected the most important knowledge needs through a three-stage process of voting, discussion and scoring. Scientists and practitioners identified similar priorities. We present the 26 highest priority knowledge needs. Many of them demand integration of knowledge from different disciplines to inform policy and practice. The top five are about sustainability of livestock feed, trade-offs between ecosystem services at farm or landscape scale, phosphorus recycling and metrics to measure sustainability. The outcomes will be used to guide on-going knowledge exchange work, future science policy and funding.
Keywords: agriculture; environment; knowledge gaps; sustainability; farming; retail; food agriculture; environment; knowledge gaps; sustainability; farming; retail; food
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Dicks, L.V.; Bardgett, R.D.; Bell, J.; Benton, T.G.; Booth, A.; Bouwman, J.; Brown, C.; Bruce, A.; Burgess, P.J.; Butler, S.J.; Crute, I.; Dixon, F.; Drummond, C.; Freckleton, R.P.; Gill, M.; Graham, A.; Hails, R.S.; Hallett, J.; Hart, B.; Hillier, J.G.; Holland, J.M.; Huxley, J.N.; Ingram, J.S.I.; King, V.; MacMillan, T.; McGonigle, D.F.; McQuaid, C.; Nevard, T.; Norman, S.; Norris, K.; Pazderka, C.; Poonaji, I.; Quinn, C.H.; Ramsden, S.J.; Sinclair, D.; Siriwardena, G.M.; Vickery, J.A.; Whitmore, A.P.; Wolmer, W.; Sutherland, W.J. What Do We Need to Know to Enhance the Environmental Sustainability of Agricultural Production? A Prioritisation of Knowledge Needs for the UK Food System. Sustainability 2013, 5, 3095-3115.

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