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The future of livestock farming: using long-term datasets to develop measures of sustainability


Researchers working in the UK and Uruguay meet at Rothamsted Research

New partnership between Rothamsted Research and the INIA in Uruguay will explore ways to manage grasslands and livestock more sustainably.

Researchers from Uruguay this week met with colleagues from Rothamsted Research at the Institute’s sites in North Wyke and Harpenden. The visit marks the start of a new partnership between scientists from Rothamsted Research in the UK and the Instituto Nacional de Investigacion Agropecuaria (INIA) in Uruguay.


The new project is funded by BBSRC via a Partnering Award. Its aim is to develop collaborations and share knowledge between two world renowned research institutes with expertise in grassland and livestock research.


The partnership will involve reciprocal visits and workshops in order to: 

  • Train students and early-career researchers,

  • Exchange knowledge and best practice,

  • Share experimental and field facilities.

The scientists will develop measures of sustainability for farms and the environment with data from long-term experiments on grassland and livestock. The long-term experiments, in the UK and Uruguay, have comparable climates, but differ in soil type.


Laura Cardenas, grassland scientist at Rothamsted Research, said: “This collaboration establishes links between Rothamsted Research and INIA, two organisations with long-term datasets that we will use to develop indicators of sustainability. This is a great opportunity and well-timed as at Rothamsted we are currently developing a new strategic programme of research. We hope the outcomes of this collaboration will be applied to other parts of the world to widen impact beyond our two countries. I look forward to working together.”


The award is around £30,000 with a further contribution of £10,000 from INIA. The funds will cover exchange visits for researchers to both countries and two workshops, the initial one being held in the UK, and the final one in Uruguay.


The project contributes to one of the BBSRC research priorities: agriculture and food security. It aims to develop metrics for assessing sustainability, reducing the environmental damage caused by food production, making livestock farming more efficient and sustainable.

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About Rothamsted Research

We are the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for over 170 years. Our mission is to deliver the knowledge and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production.

Our strength lies in the integrated, multidisciplinary approach to research in plant, insect and soil science.

Rothamsted Research is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2013-2014 Rothamsted Researched received a total of £32.9M from the BBSRC.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £509M in world-class bioscience in 2014-15. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see:

For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: