HL Deb 29 January 1987 vol 483 cc1539-40WA
Lord Adrian

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made towards establishing a small and highly selective network of projects to monitor the effects of agricultural practices, as recommended by the Select Committee on Science and Technology (4th Report, Session 1983–84).

Lord Belstead

The Government's response to the committee's report (Session 1984–85, 5th Report) indicated that studies of the influence of different pesticide regimes were already being undertaken by ADAS at Boxworth Experimental Husbandry Farm, and that the Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) were exploring together the possibility of selecting further projects within their research programmes.

There are two such projects currently operating in addition to the Boxworth pesticides project referred to above:

  1. (i)a study by ADAS of the possibility of reducing crop damage by brent geese through modifying agricultural practices so as to encourage the use of alternative feeding grounds;
  2. (ii)a jointly sponsored project, conducted by the AFRC and NERC, on the Somerset Levels to study the effects of a range of fertilizer treatments on botanical diversity and productivity of this exposed peat moor.

In addition there are at present three further projects on which it is hoped to start work soon:

  1. (iii) a pilot study by ADAS, at Bridgets Experimental Husbandry Farm, of the effects of different agricultural practices on the use of fields by birds;
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  3. (iv)a study by ADAS, at six experimental husbandry farms, of the effects of different treatments of field margins on animal and plant populations;
  4. (v)a project by the AFRC and NERC, in conjunction with the Open University, on the interaction of technology, attitudes and policy in the practice of crop protection.