Aims and objectives

The four research areas within the ASSIST programme will be complimented by an overarching work package to build a data infrastructure to meet the current and future needs of users of agri-environment information encompassing the research, regulating and policy-making communities.

The data infrastructure will be required to enable access to research outputs from field monitoring and experimental platforms, through to scenarios and model outputs.

Datasets will be discoverable, understood through comprehensive descriptive metadata, accessible over the web, in standard formats, and interoperable with datasets from the wider agri-environment community or other communities.

The infrastructure will re-define approaches to data storage and access that will enable the datasets to be used in innovative and flexible ways, and will define how the UK agricultural and scientific community accesses and uses data over coming years, linking with ongoing international developments to ensure integration at wider scales.

This will enable key UK agri-environment datasets, including core agricultural and land use scenarios, to be:

  • Explored in a consistent way by a wide range of users;
  • Readily integrated within tools to extrapolate site and field scale data to the catchment, landscape and national scale;
  • Modelled to quantify the impacts of intensification across these scales.

Key outcomes

Key outcomes of this will include:

  1. A Data Platform for Sustainable Intensification providing generic facilities and tools required to store, integrate, view and disseminate the data products produced as a result of on-going and future core-funded research at Rothamsted and UKCEH;
  2. Novel decision support tools  e.g. A spatial mapping tool to enable stakeholders and the research community to explore the likely impacts of agricultural intensification on natural capital and biodiversity at multiple scales (click here to find out more about ASSET, our new Scenario Exploration Tool);
  3. Well-developed datasets e.g. National layers characterising the diversity of biodiversity indicator species at the 1 km scale relevant to agri-environment research needs, that can be accessed and viewed via the Platform and easily combined to address research questions.

Key products and datasets

ASSIST Scenario Exploration Tool: A simple, web-based tool to explore the impacts of potential changes in the way we farm the British landscape (launched on 6th February 2018)

Land Cover Map (LCM)

Land Cover Map: Plus Crops 

Biodiversity indicators: National layers characterising the diversity of biodiversity indicator species at the 1 km scale.

Functional species supporting food production: combine intensification scenarios with the national 1 km distribution of functional species providing key ecosystem services.

Habitat quality: data from the Countryside Survey and third party data sources (e.g. Priority Habitats Inventory) will be used to provide national estimates of habitat quality that will be linked to the intensification risk maps.

Soil carbon stocks: data from the Countryside Survey and the National Peat Soil Map will be combined to provide enhanced estimates of trends in soils quality indicators such as soil carbon stocks and soils chemistry at national and regional levels over a decadal time series.

Water quality: Developing more effective models for managing water from the local to the national scale from a risk and pollution perspective. Combining multiple model outputs and making them interoperable to allow more rapid and seamless analysis of the impacts of land cover change on water quality under SI scenarios at the national and catchment scale.

New Product - Hydrological Outlook UK Current Conditions: UKCEH, in collaboration with the Met Office, produces a Hydrological Outlook every month, which provides an insight into current and near-future hydrological conditions across the UK. We are looking at ways of developing these maps further and we are interested in your feedback.

Lead scientists and data managers

Mike Brown (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)
Dr Chris Rawlings (Rothamsted Research)