In some parts of the UK, high levels of water abstraction are reducing the quantity and quality of surface water (rivers, lakes) and groundwater (water accumulated in spaces in soil and rocks). This POSTnote sets out the challenge of balancing competing requirements for freshwater, and summarises proposed reforms to the abstraction system in England and Wales and their implications

The term nexus describes the key interactions between parts of a system or systems. This POSTnote summarises current understanding of the interactions between water, energy and food production and examines how nexus approaches can be used to inform policy decisions.

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    This POSTnote explores the consequences of increasing the role of natural processes within landscapes. Evidence from the UK and abroad suggests that rewilding can benefit both wildlife and local people, but animal reintroductions could adversely affect some land-users.

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    Precision farming uses technology to improve efficiency. It offers benefits for yields, profits and the environment. However, uptake by farmers has been slow. This POSTnote describes precision farming methods, adoption and factors influencing it, and future practices.

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    2015 is the United Nations International Year of Soils. Soils underpin the global food system and regulate water, carbon and nitrogen cycles but are subject to pressures from population growth and climate change. In England & Wales, soil degradation costs around £1bn per year. This POSTnote outlines the evidence for measures that sustain soils and existing policies affecting soil health.

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    Increasing resistance to herbicides, coupled with a lack of new types of herbicides, has the potential to reduce crop yields. The UK Government’s commitment to increase yields over the next 25 years will require the development of alternative crop protection methods. This POSTnote outlines the challenges of herbicide resistance and reviews the possible approaches to long-term weed control strategies.

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    Food production systems worldwide may have to adapt radically to meet the rising global demand for food. Emerging approaches in the food sector include controlled-environment farming, alternative animal feeds, edible insects, and lab-cultured meat. This POSTnote considers these new technologies and summarises their respective advantages and limitations.

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    Agriculture contributes 9% of the UK’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions burden and 10-12% globally. Although there is a long-term declining trend from UK agriculture, the sector may account for a larger share of overall emissions in the future as other sectors reduce emissions. This POSTnote focuses on reducing GHG emissions from growing and storing arable and horticultural crops.

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    Changing weather patterns have made structural defences less effective at managing flooding. An approach that employs a range of natural flood management measures across a river catchment is likely to reduce the probability of flooding and pressure on structural defences. This POSTnote describes the measures and the challenges of implementing them over large catchments.

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    Insects play a critical role in ecosystems, but can also cause economic and social harm by transmitting diseases to humans and livestock, and damaging crops. Genetically modified (GM) insects could be used alongside other approaches to mitigate harms. This POSTnote summarises possible benefits, risks and uncertainties associated with their deployment.