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LINK - Integrated Farming Systems (IFS)

LINK

LINK was launched in 1986 by the Office of Science and Technology (OST) to bridge the gap between the research base and industry by encouraging collaborative research projects and partnerships. The LINK scheme aims to:

  • enable and accelerate the commercial exploitation of technology to develop new products, processes, systems and services;
  • promote close interaction between industry and the research base; and
  • stimulate industry to increase investment in research and development.

Within the LINK initiative five main programmes are supported, as well as a number of other programmes supported by DEFRA . The five programmes are:

  • Sustainable livestock production.
  • Competitive industrial materials from non-food crops.
  • Horticulture.
  • Aquaculture.
  • Advanced and hygienic food manufacturing.

LINK - Integrated Farming Systems

This project has been underway for a number of years and aims to develop arable integrated farming systems that concentrate on the practical feasibility and economic viability whilst also taking into account the level of inputs and the impacts on the environment. The main objectives are:

  • To integrate the latest research results into a production system which optimises input compatibility with profitability and environmental sensitivity.
  • To make valid comparison between integrated systems of production and conventional practice for aspects of profitability, energy balance and environmental effects.
  • To investigate scientifically interactions between component parts of the system.

The project involves work carried out at six sites, with a range of soil types and geographical profiles in the main arable areas of the UK. Four of the sites are commercial farms and the other two are ADAS research centres. The integrated systems established at each of the sites is compared with conventional reference systems within split fields.

The preliminary results show that:

  • profitability has been maintained, in many cases by reduced cost of inputs and higher returns for quality produce, however the returns from the integrated system have been lower than from the conventional system;
  • it has been difficult to lower inputs to high value, high risk crops, because of severe financial penalties incurred from small changes in yields and possible loss of markets; and
  • the more considered approach to crop protection has not involved increased management time.
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