Food and farm productivity

Food is essential to all we do. It provides the nutrients we need for energy, growth and maintaining a healthy life. Supplied through productive agriculture, the demand for food is ever increasing and it is therefore imperative not only that farms are operating at their optimum productivity with maximum care for the environment, but also that food supply chains are secure and robust.

RSK company ADAS has a leading reputation in the food and drink sector in the UK and is a recognised expert in these topics. Our experts’ applied research, knowledge transfer and exchange, and strategic and policy consultancy underpin the sustainable agricultural production and land management that secure our food and enhance the environment.

A trusted and influential name

Acquired by RSK in 2016, ADAS is the UK’s largest independent provider of agricultural and environmental consultancy services with 75 years’ experience. ADAS approaches all of its projects from the viewpoint of making a difference to the two major issues of modern times: securing the food supply and enhancing the environment.

Within ADAS the soil, crops and water team work to help farms maximise their productivity as well as ensuring that the food supply chain is secure and reduces environmental impact. The team, largely composed of biologists, understand soils, crops, weeds, pests and diseases, and how they interact with plants. These technical skills interact with those of the policy and economics, and modelling and informatics groups to provide holistic and problem-solving solutions to clients.

In-depth knowledge of regulations

ADAS’ extensive history in the food and drink sector has given it an in-depth knowledge of production practice and the regulations that surround it. We provide each of our clients with a tailored approach that integrates the required regulatory compliance and best practice, whether that client is trying to build a greater market share, increase productivity or deliver its products as sustainably as possible.

Management of crops, soil, nutrients and organic material needs to be efficient while also protecting the environment. ADAS uses its knowledge and expertise to assist clients in achieving their goals, providing modelling, analysis, monitoring and advice wherever needed.

A wide umbrella of services

The capabilities of the soil, crops and water team, together with the full range of expertise in ADAS and RSK, are very wide ranging and cover all aspects of farming, from science to practice. In order to provide analysis and monitoring we deliver hardware, software and expertise for the digital capture of field data, thereby enabling measurements and observations to be recorded efficiently and accurately. We then combine this sound evidence with our practical knowledge to provide appropriate solutions.

Our expertise includes all crops (arable, horticulture and grass/forage), crop nutrition, crop physiology, water use and weed, pest and disease management. We know that healthy soil make healthy farms and include services looking into soil health; use and management; quality; resource evaluation and protection; and manufacture, remediation and storage. Our work is done at the field, farm, catchment and sector scales.

We work at the forefront of research into innovative methods in agriculture. An excellent example of this is the INNO-VEG project, a four-year international collaboration project that ADAS is leading in the UK and for which it is developing innovative methods to carry out research into field vegetable and potato crops

Holistic approach: Whole farm, whole system, whole supply chain

Although these services are primarily offered through eight sites in England and Wales, all ADAS’ experts are involved in global outreach and international projects and can utilise the vast RSK network when and where needed. As RSK always strives to provide a holistic solution for its clients, it can also combine this service with any of the others the group can offer, such as farm business advice.

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Our Expertise

  • Evidence-driven practical applications and problem solving

    We use our expertise collaboratively to deliver solutions that are practical and consider all aspects of real production systems. We work closely with research communities to build on existing evidence and develop new solutions and, if required, will design rigorous applied research to further enhance those solutions to benefit our clients businesses or the wider industry. Our knowledge of crops, soils and water includes detailed understanding of how crops grow, their response to nutrients and crop protection, as well as practical management and logistical constraints. By working at farm, field, sub-field and plot scales, we are able to combine this biological knowledge with modelling, policy evaluation and data management approaches to provide solutions quickly. Often, we work out how to apply or extrapolate this knowledge to novel situations in which it has not previously been tested.

  • Crop management

    ADAS works on all crops, grass and forage. We know how plants grow and use that understanding to develop new approaches to crop management, in partnership with other skills. For example, we have applied crop physiology knowledge to develop thresholds for pest management that reflect the crop’s ability to produce new flowers or its ability to compensate for losses. We work with our clients to develop resource-efficient and profitable crop production systems. The crop physiology team, the largest group of such experts in the UK, focus on improving performance and reducing unintended consequences or the pollution of cropping systems. By combining knowledge, field research and modelling expertise we optimise resource and water use, from plant through to farm scale. Our yield enhancement networks drive farm-centric thinking and progress through engagement in concepts, metrics, ideas and tests. Initially focused on productivity, this ‘family’ now covers many arable crops and grassland, and is adapting to deliver net-zero carbon emissions. Members can benchmark themselves against their peers and set themselves improvement ambitions that utilise external expertise and innovative solutions.

  • Horticulture

    ADAS is home to the largest horticulture applied research group in the UK that is delivering sustainable intensification of horticulture production systems through five operational themes: chemicals, nutrients, substrates and growing media, technology, and breeding and propagation.

  • Crop protection

    Protecting crops from weeds, pests and disease is vital to realise crop productivity. We match crop knowledge with specialists who understand the biology of the organisms that attack them. That individual knowledge is combined in projects that include integrated crop management, also known as integrated pest management (IPM). We lead the EU-wide project IPM Decisions and are partners in many others.

    A key issue is resistance management; ADAS is leading projects in all areas and providing leading industry input to resistance action groups. These groups bring together the latest knowledge and promote best-practice management.

    We conduct a range of field, outside container and glasshouse trials appropriate to the crop and problem. Our work includes integrated approaches such as mechanical, physical, cultural, genetic and chemical options. We also deliver desk-based research including literature reviews and economic assessments.

    The ADAS weeds team provide expertise in weed management and control, biology and biodiversity. We work on arable, horticultural, grassland and amenity areas, and lead the way in applied weed research.

    Our pest management team of entomologists develop sustainable and practical IPM solutions to improve the management of arable, horticultural and tree pests while also conducting innovative research and providing specialist consultancy.

    For disease management, we provide evidence and interpretation to help develop and guide disease management using chemical, genetic and biological approaches. ADAS leads projects on fungicide performance.

  • Soil management

    Our highly qualified consultants work with clients to improve soil health and quality. We also ensure nutrient use is optimised for crop performance while minimising nutrient losses from crops and soils to water and air. Soil physical quality and its interaction with cultivation, farm management and weather is core to all of what we do both to ensure productivity and to minimise environmental impacts. We specialise in understanding the implications of management and mitigation options and ensuring they are practical and effective, thus ensuring the uptake of policies and understanding of the benefits that will result.

  • Water protection

    ADAS provides catchment management solutions including catchment monitoring, the interpretation of spatial and temporal datasets, advice on the implementation of measures to improve water quality in freshwater environments and impact assessment.

  • Digital agronomy and tools

    We combine our expertise in crop and soil science with digital technology to produce innovative services and products that improve business practices and help increase yields. This helps ensure safe and secure food supplies and contributes to a sustainable and resilient industry. Our work for clients includes crop productivity and we are developing environmental benchmarking.

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