AHDB and BBRSC announce 10 new innovative research projects

The race to make the agricultural industry hit carbon reduction targets took another turn this week with the announcement that 10 new farmer-influenced projects will ease the transition to net zero.

Formally announced this week by AHDB and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBRSC), these projects aim to address challenges affecting the sector – as identified by farmers – and will be carried out by some of the country’s leading agriculture and bioscience experts, at highly esteemed institutions.

James Phillips, senior portfolio manager for agriculture at BBSRC, told The Scottish Farmer: “We are excited to partner again with AHDB to invest in research that is directly informed by the needs of farmers. The projects are supported by £0.5m of funding and will develop novel solutions for a more sustainable agriculture."

For AHDB, Dr Amanda Bennett, an environment scientist, added: “Agriculture will be instrumental in reducing the impact of climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon storage. These new research projects will provide much needed progress in scientific knowledge on how farming can reach net zero by 2040.” The projects will cover five distinct topics – technology, regenerative agriculture, soil health, improving farming systems and, looking to the future, development of new resistance mechanisms.

Three aim to develop innovative new technology and Dr Joe Roberts, Harper Adams University, will develop a new smart monitoring tool for improved night-time monitoring of vine weevils; Dr Martin Blackwell, Rothamsted Research, will develop a new field test kit to measure soil phosphate; and Dr Matthew Tinsley, Stirling University, is tasked with developing best-practice for tank-mixing bio-pesticides.

Regenerative agriculture offers many opportunities to increase sustainability and two projects will provide farmers with better guidance. Dr Julia Cooper, Newcastle University, will work with farmers to better understand the opportunities and challenges for regenerative agriculture in North-east England while Dr Michael Garratt, University of Reading, will work with farmers to provide improved guidance on reducing and optimising inputs for oilseed rape crops, particularly the soil health benefits from the addition of organic materials. Two projects aim to provide guidance on the benefits of improved soil health. Dr Jackie Stroud, SRUC, will investigate how earthworms may reduce disease risk through effective residue management, and Dr Matthew Back, Harper Adams University, will explore how new soil amendments could help to store carbon in soil.

Crop diseases limit sustainability and one project aims to better understand how plants and pathogens battle at the molecular level with ‘Ubiquitin-induced resistance in barley’, a project led by Dr Beatriz Orosa, University of Edinburgh.

Source: The Scottish Farmer