BASF Agricultural Solutions UK

Climate Smart Farming

BASF are supporting farmers to become more carbon efficient and resilient to volatile weather conditions with technologies that increase yield, make farm management more effective, and decrease environmental impact.

“Farmers are in a unique position to be part of the solution to combat climate change. Sustainable farming practices can reduce emissions and increase farm resilience. We are 100% dedicated to support farmers to decrease their environmental impact, improve farm resilience and sequester carbon in the soil.” Vincent Gros, President BASF Agricultural Solutions.

What are we doing to achieve Climate Smart Farming in the UK?

BASF has been committed to researching the best ways in which they can support farmers to decrease their environmental impacts for many years. As a result, we have a wealth of data and resources to share. Our two sustainability farms at Rawcliffe Bridge and The Grange have been a particularly valuable asset in helping us understand how profitable farming can work hand in hand with nature.

Rawcliffe Bridge

Rawcliffe Bridge

BASF have worked collaboratively with the Hinchliffe family at Rawcliffe Bridge since 2002. Over this time, dramatic changes have been made, resulting in significant biodiversity gains.

Project Fortress

Project Fortress

Project Fortress is our five year project at The Grange, our sustainability farm in Northamptonshire.

This project has been established to help us better understand how improving soil health and implementing IPM techniques can improve climate efficiency.

Rawcliffe Bridge

BASF have worked collaboratively with the Hinchliffe family at Rawcliffe Bridge since 2002. Over this time, dramatic changes have been made, resulting in significant biodiversity gains.

Biodiversity’s rich rewards

At first glance the Hinchliffe’s 350-acre farm at Rawcliffe Bridge near Goole in East Yorkshire looks like the efficient, productive arable farm that it is. But when you take a moment to look and listen, what is fascinating about this place is that you enter a vibrant world of diverse bird, insect and plant life; a balance between intensive farming and highly effective wildlife management.

BASF has partnered with the Hinchliffe family at the farm since 2002 in implementing practical wildlife enhancing measures to encourage biodiversity whilst not detracting from the highly productive arable areas of the farm.

The farm at Rawcliffe Bridge

The Hinchliffe’s farm has a wheat-based rotation and much of the wheat is grown under contract for seed.

Most of the soil is known as ‘warp land’, a highly fertile alluvial plain extending to depths of between 10-18 inches resultant of intentional flooding from the adjacent Dutch River sometime between 1820 and 1850.The result is that it is perfect for growing some of the best quality wheat in the UK; because of this it is used for extensive fungicide, seed treatment and wheat variety trials (averaging 24 varieties every year) in a joint venture between BASF and leading plant breeders.

Improving biodiversity is just part of the objective of demonstrating sustainable intensification of cropping at Rawcliffe Bridge and The Grange. Best practice agronomy using current technology and techniques drives profitable crop production and the same technology and techniques can be used to improve biodiversity. Effectively managed crop production and improved biodiversity are a powerful and socially responsible combination; they are both key drivers in managing sustainable intensification of farming.

Approaches implemented at Rawcliffe Bridge

Feeding 'Tail corn'

‘Tail corn’ or screenings harvested from the headlands is used as bird feed in the yard and on farm tracks over the winter

Nest Boxes

In 2003, 30 nest boxes were put up for hole-nesting birds like tits and tree sparrows. By 2011, we had increased the number of next boxes on the farm to just over 100. This significantly boosted blue tit, great tit and tree sparrow numbers.

Barn Owl nesting boxes

We have put up barn owl nesting boxes at the edge of the established woodland and along hunting flight lines.

Summer Insecticides

Summer insecticides have not been used on winter wheat for over fifteen years. Instead, we have looked to other IPM measures to control the risk posed by summer aphids.

OSR cutting

By cutting the oilseed rape directly instead of swathing, we delay going into the field by 10-14 days. This gives more time for the resident reed buntings to fledge their last brood of young.

Ditch management

We have carefully managed Rawcliffe Bridge’s many ditches and dykes to encourage water voles to recolonise. Nearly every field has a ditch around two sides, which provide good wildlife corridors and the annual dredging and cutting is delayed until October on a rotational rather than annual basis to encourage the tussocky grasses favoured by voles.

The Farm Network

Rawcliffe Bridge was the first sustainability farm for BASF. Since 2002, we have created a network of sustainability farms across Europe with more than 30 partner organisations in eight countries.

Project Fortress

Project Fortress is a five year project at The Grange, Northamptonshire. Located in “Fortress Field”, our aim is to see how we can improve the soils and carbon storage of this field over a five year period. To do this, we will be assessing different rotations, cultivations and inputs to look at what has the biggest impact. We will be regularly updating this page with updates from Project Fortress, so stay tuned to see what we’re up to and what we’ve learnt!

What are we measuring?

We want to see how different rotations and crops affect soil health. To do this, we are measuring the following:

Bulk density

Bulk density is an indicator of soil compaction. It is calculated as the dry weight of soil divided by its volume. This volume includes the volume of soil particles and the volume of pores among soil particles.

Soil Organic Carbon

This is a measure of carbon in the soil Soil Organic Carbon plays a crucial role in soil function & eco-system services. Across each of the plots, we have taken 5 samples to get an average of the soil organic carbon score for each area, at three different depths.

As well as soil sampling, we will also be measuring yield and profitability, so we can look at which of the techniques might be feasible on a larger scale. We will also be monitoring biodiversity numbers, to see whether the floristry strips have an impact on pollinator numbers.

Who are we working with?

We have a number of experts involved in developing and monitoring project Fortress.

Our primary advisor is independent soil health expert, Professor Jenni Dungait. Over the course of the project, Jenni will be studying the changes to the soil and helping us to understand what changes have occurred and why.

Jenni has been working with BASF for a number of years and has already provided many valuable insights. To read more about her soil health advice, click here .

Find out more about our other sustainability commitments: