Sustainable agricultural production / intensification

Developing novel integrated farming systems combining legumes for nitrogen accumulation with reduced cultivation systems to promote soil conservation.

This is the focus of a series of related PhD projects which are providing farmers and other stakeholders with valuable information on how to maximise the value of such practices and in the longer term will inform government policy. 

Key staff

  • Dr Nicola Canon

Current trials

  • Long term (79 harvests) crop establishment trials comparing direct drill, minimum tillage and plough power harrow based establishment techniques on crop growth and development and soil health
  • Using technology to improve weed management in arable farming systems
  • Circular agricultural systems

PhD students

  • Shejung Xu (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for mapping weeds in field)

PhD graduates

  • Dr Joanna Doel   (Accumulation and recovery of Nitrogen in mixed farming systems using legumes and other green manure crops)
  • Dr Winifred Azo  (Development of forage lupins and spring sown cereals as bi-crops suitable for organic livestock production)
  • Dr Harriet Moyo   (Strategies for soil fertility-building through improved legume-ley cropping)
  • Dr A V Viyaja Bhaskar (Bi-cropping/ green manuring to reduce tillage, suppress weeds and improve soil organic matter when grown in an arable rotation).
  • Dr Karen Rial-Lovera (Sustainable conversion from organic to low input conventional farming)
  • Donwell Kamilonga (Evaluation of the potential of field beans (Vicia faba) and spring wheat (Triticum aestivium) variety mixtures as a bi-crop opportunity)
  • Patrick McKenna (Optimizing Red Clover (Trifolium pratense): Evaluation traits for soil fertility building capacity under differing cutting strategies)

Recent key publications


  • Cannon, N.D., Kamalonga, D, and Conway, J.S. (2019). The effect of bi-cropping wheat (Triticum aestivum) and beans (Vicia faba) on forage yield and weed competition. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture.
  • McKenna, P., Cannon, N.D. Conway, J. and Dooley, J.J. (2018). The use of red clover (Trifolium pratense) in soil fertility-building: A Review. Field Crops Research 221, 38-41.
  • McKenna, P., Cannon, N.D. and Conway, J. (2018). Soil mineral nitrogen availability predicted by herbage yield and disease resistance in red clover (Trifolium Pratense). Nutrient cycling in agroecosystems
  • McKenna, P., Cannon, N.D. Conway, J., Dooley, J.J. and Davies W.P. (2018). Red clover (Trifolium pratense) in conservation agriculture: a compelling case for increased adoption. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.
  • Rial-Lovera K, Davies W P. Cannon N D. (2017). Implication of climate change for UK cropping and prospect for possible mitigation: A review of challenges and potential soil management responses. Invited paper to the Journal of Food Science and Agriculture 97 (1), 17-32 DOI:
  • Alo, A.O., Baines, R., Conway, J. & Cannon, N.D. (2017). The impacts of climate change on agriculture in developing countries: A case study of Oyo State, Nigeria. International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts & Responses 9 (2), 1-21.
  • Rial-Lovera, K., Davies, W.P., Cannon, N.D. and Conway, J.S. (2016), Weed development in spring wheat after contrasting soil tillage and nitrogen management. Annals of Applied Biology 169: 236–247.
  • Rial-Lovera K, Davies W P, Conway J S, Cannon N D. (2016). Influences of tillage systems and nitrogen management on yield, grain protein and N-use efficiency in UK spring wheat. Journal of Agricultural Science. 154 (8), 1437-1452.
  • Moyo, H., Davies, W.P., Cannon, N. D. and Conway, J. S. (2015). Influence of two-year clover red clover-grass ley management on nitrogen economy and following wheat performance. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture 32 (2),1-12.
  • Moyo, H., Davies, W.P., Cannon, N. D. and Conway, J. S. (2015). Influence of one year red clover ley management subsequent cereal crops. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture 31 (3), 193-204.