This set of conservation biological control experiments data was collected as part of five field experiments investigating agricultural biological control techniques, particularly the effect of wild field margins on pests and predators. The study is part of the NERC Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme. Despite the widespread concerns regarding the use of pesticides in food production and the availability of potentially viable biological pest control strategies in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems, the UK cereal crop production remains a bastion of pesticide use. This project aimed to understand further the reasons for this lack of adoption, using the control of summer cereal aphids as a case study. Reasons for this lack of adoption of biocontrol remain a complex interplay of both technical and economic problems. Economists highlight the potential path dependency of an industry to continue to employ a suboptimal technology, caused by past dynamics of adoption resulting in differential private cost structures of each technique. Further, risk aversion on the part of farmers regarding the perceived efficacy of a new technology may also limit up-take. This may be particularly important when IPM rests on portfolios of technologies and when little scientific understanding exists on the effect of portfolio and scale of adoption on overall efficacy. Faced with this, farmers will not adopt a socially superior IPM technology and there exists a clear need for public policy action. This action may take the form of minimising uncertainty through carefully designed research programs, government funding and dissemination of the results of large-scale research studies or direct public support for farm landscape and farm system changes that can promote biocontrol. This research looked at alternatives to the use of insecticides in arable agriculture and the difficulties facing producers in switching over to them. Two approaches were explored: habitat manipulations, to encourage predators and parasites, and using naturally occurring odours to manipulate predator distribution as model technologies. Scale and portfolio effects on biocontrol efficacy have been investigated in controlled and field scale experiments. Aim is to improve the way research and development of new products and techniques are carried out to help break the dependence on chemical pesticides. 'Semiochemical experiment data, 2005-2009 - RELU Re-bugging the system: promoting adoption of alternative pest management strategies in field crop systems' from this same research project are also available. In addition, socio-economic research has been used to help direct natural science research into the development and evaluation of a combination of habitat management and semiochemical push-pull strategies of appropriate scale and complementarity to yield viable, commercially attractive and sustainable alternatives to the use of insecticides in cereal crop agriculture. These socio-economic data are available through the UK Data Archive under study number 6960 (see online resources). Further information and documentation for this study may be found through the RELU Knowledge Portal and the project's ESRC funding award web page (see online resources).
The dataset contains measurements of the annual average abundance, biomass and elemental composition (C, N, P) of consumers (fish and invertebrates) in six rivers within sub-catchments of the Hampshire Avon of contrasting geology (clay, sand, chalk). Full details about this dataset can be found at https://doi.org/10.5285/6e9a9a6e-1b42-46db-973b-06c1db2961c0
Density and biomass of fish taxa from three chalkstreams in the Wessex chalk area: Nine Mile River, River Till and River Wylye. Data were collected on five occasions, between October 2012 and October 2013. The density of fish taxa at each of the three streams was estimated using benthic fish sampling and multi-pass electrofishing. The mean biomass of individuals of each taxon at each site on each occasion was then applied to the density estimates to derive an estimate of the biomass per m2 of each taxon at each site on each occasion. Data were collected to quantify food webs detailing the flux of mass and nutrients between nodes of the food web. This dataset was created as part of work package 3.2 of the Wessex Biodiversity & Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) project. Full details about this dataset can be found at https://doi.org/10.5285/7eee41f8-dbde-4b5e-b2d5-7296b5bfc558