Crop Physiologists 2022

ADAS has the largest group of crop physiologists in the UK

The ADAS crop physiology team focuses on improving performance and sustainability of cropping systems for food, feed and biofuel production.


As international experts in crop physiology, crop improvement and crop management, our research goals are to understand:

  • the physiological processes by which crops capture resources (light, CO2, water, nutrients)
  • how crops use these resources to produce saleable products (crop yield & quality).
  • how environmental factors (e.g. climate, weather and soil), plant breeding and crop management factors (e.g. species and variety choice, establishment, nutrition, crop protection products, biostimulants) affect crop performance.
  • how cropping systems and management affect the environment (e.g. through nitrate leaching, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions).

We distil the scientific evidence we collect into sound practical guidelines for growers.


Our areas of expertise include:

  • Understanding yield formation of arable and forage crops
  • Optimising nutrition for arable and forage crops
  • Evaluation of fertiliser, biostimulant and PGR products
  • Lodging control
  • Precision Farming:  understanding how precision farming technologies can optimise inputs
  • Root growth: measurement and methods of enhancement 
  • Operating farmer networks: Yield Enhancement Networks (YEN) for cereals, oilseeds, pulses and carbon; NUTRI-CHECK NET – a Europe-wide network aiming to optimise crop nutrition decision making.
  • Designing better farming systems
  • Sound scientific experiments/analysis/reviews that are publishable in international peer reviewed journals
  • Distil science into practical guidance for the farm industry and academia, and transfer this effectively to end users
  • Testing ideas on-farm through small plot trials, tramline trials and more


For more information about ADAS and what it does go to 



Crop experiments

Our applied research is scientifically rigorous, hypothesis-driven, and challenge-led. We carry out experiments at a range of scales including:

  • Small plot field experiments: ADAS conducts field trials with over 15,000 plots per year testing effects of all aspects of arable and forage crop management
  • Controlled Environment experiments including glasshouse, polytunnel and seedling rooting screens to evaluate effects of varieties and seed treatments on rooting
  • Tramline trials and split-field trials using our Agronomics technology.  

We also carry out desk studies, such as literature reviews, feasibility reports and scoping studies on a variety of topics for a range of clients, including Defra and agrochemical companies.


Cutting edge crop research


One of our key research advances is our Agronomics service. This new technology enables farmers to compare agronomic treatments at tramline, split-field and whole field scales. Using Agronomics precision technology can allow us to detect significant differences of <0.1 t/ha.

View the flyer detailing the services HERE.


Yield Enhancement Networks (YEN):

The YEN was initiated back in 2012, with the aim to foster and energise a new culture of yield-enhancing innovation in the arable industry. Originally focusing on wheat, the collaborative, industry-wide network has expanded to include all cereals, oilseed rape, peas, beans and linseed. New YEN networks have also been developed focusing on crop nutrition (YEN Nutrition) and carbon emissions (YEN Zero). The family of YEN networks have accumulated more than 5000 yields, along with over 1 million explanatory metrics. This puts the YEN in a unique position to analyse the complexities of how to make progress toward the urgent twin challenges of raising farm productivity  and ensuring its sustainability.


Examples of our work

  • Evidence and expertise to update industry fertiliser guidelines (AHDB Nutrient Management Guide - RB209) through our FACTs qualified team
  • Field trials to evaluate crop varieties for AHDB Recommended Lists
  • Evidence to enable Defra to develop policy on regulation of fertilisers and biostimulants
  • Wheat Growth Guide
  • New pest threshold guides for pollen beetle and wheat bulb fly
  • Guidelines to reduce the risk of lodging 
  • Root-2-Res: A Horizon Europe project to enable new varieties with better root systems to be bred.
  • NUTRI-CHECK NET: a Europe-wide network aiming to optimise crop nutrition decision making..




Links to all key documents mentioned below:

Related Organisations




Connected Content

ADAS provides ideas, specialist knowledge and solutions to secure our food and enhance the environment. We understand food production and the challenges and opportunities faced by organisations operating in the natural environment

This Livestock and Pasture study is part of the wider UKRI STFC-funded EO4Agroclimate programme.  


Yield Enhancement Networks (YENs) were launched in 2012 to support and energise on-farm learning-by-sharing and thus to enhance farming progress.

YEN Zero is a recently established network in the ADAS YEN Family, with the overarching aim of creating a net-zero community. It aims to bring key players from across the agricultural industry together to meet the industry’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2040.

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The major commodity crops in the UK are wheat, barley, oilseed rape, field beans, sugar beet and potatoes, but around half of agricultural land grows grass.   

ADAS have produced a new guide with our five top tips for successful on-farm trials. We'd love you to give it a try and to hear about what products or approaches you're testing on farm - by sharing the results of trials, we can learn more together.

YEN Nutrition brings together those wanting to achieve more precise crop nutrition.  High fertiliser prices now make this vital.  Assuming that 'crops know best' engagement in YEN Nutrition starts by benchmarking grain nutrients to show those that were limiting (or excessive) for each crop.

Cover crops are grown primarily to ‘protect or improve’ soils between periods of regular crop production. They can be effective at improving soil functions by increasing soil nutrient and water retention, improving soil structure/quality, reducing the risk of soil erosion, surface run-off and diffuse pollution by providing soil cover and by managing weeds or soil-borne pests.  

Crop yield has been a major subject of research and industrial improvement for decades.  The YENs have set out a framework for understoanding yield in terms of capture and conversion of the major resources light and water. Temperature plays a role in crop development and can also have a substantial impact on growth and yields.

Driving Decision Making for Efficient & Sustainable Agricultural Production ADAS Digital Decision Support encompasses the way in which we use digital data and digital technology to deliver solutions in crop production, sustainable food and farming, land management and ecology to our clients.

The Wheat Growth Guide was first published in 1999, following extensive measurement of a range of reference crops in HGCA funded projects. The AHDB Wheat growth guide allows crop progress, structure and final performance to be measured and compared against a series of UK benchmarks. To manage crops effectively, it is important to set targets, assess progress, adjust inputs and monitor success. Our wheat growth guidance outlines the main crop growth stages and components of yield, as well as the opportunities for management.

Report by ADAS in 2009 for Government Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington. Authore

Understanding and improving bean yields by sharing measures and ideas  

Crop physiology is the study of how plants function and respond to their environment. It involves understanding the factors that affect crop growth and development, such as light, temperature, water, and nutrients, and the physiological mechanisms that plants use to adapt to their environment, such as photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration. 

The Oilseed YEN network is striving to help the whole industry to successfully grow Oilseed rape (OSR) and Linseed from start to finish – providing a better outlook for both crops into the future. 

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Review by ADAS (Kate Storer) for AHDB in 2016 into the value of biostimulants.

Book edited by Roger Sylvester-Bradley and Julian Wiseman exploring the  potential for yield