Partnership announces ten new innovative research projects

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Ten new projects to help UK farming transition to net zero and become more sustainable have been formally announced by AHDB and BBSRC this week.

The 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 says “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”.

Dr Amanda Bennett, Environment Scientist at AHDB says “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 10 projects cover five distinct topics: technology, regenerative agriculture, soil health, improving livestock farming systems and, looking to the future, development of new resistance mechanisms.

Three projects aim to develop innovative new technology; Dr Joe Roberts at Harper Adams University will develop a new smart monitoring tool for improved night-time monitoring of vine weevils.

Dr Martin Blackwell at Rothamsted Research will develop a new field test kit to measure soil phosphate, and Dr Matthew Tinsley at Stirling University will develop best-practice for tank-mixing biopesticides.

Regenerative agriculture offers many opportunities to increase sustainability and two projects aim to provide farmers with improved guidance; Dr Julia Cooper at Newcastle University will work with farmers to better understand the opportunities and challenges for regenerative agriculture in Northeast England.

Dr Michael Garratt at 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 at SRUC will investigate how earthworms may reduce disease risk through effective residue management and Dr Matthew Back at Harper Adams University will explore how new soil amendments could help to store carbon in soil.

The UK is ideally suited to livestock farming and Dr Georgios Banos at SRUC will aim to improve genetics to breed climate resilient sheep Dr Phil Staddon at Royal Agricultural University will look at best grazing options.

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’ led by Dr Beatriz Orosa, University of Edinburgh.

In spring 2022, we’ll be asking all eligible levy payers to shape our work and priorities. Your views will help guide what we deliver over the next five years. Have your say on the vital support we offer your business and the industry. Registration opens December 2021

AHDB secures £0.5m in farm sustainability research funding

Project details (including final reports and articles)

June 2022 update

All final project reports are now available via the links, below. Project pages also include links to articles that provide an overview of the main findings arising from each project.

Innovative technology

Available soil phosphate test kit field trials

Automatic monitoring of nocturnal crop pest activity

Best-practice for tank-mixing biopesticides

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture in challenging environments

Optimising agronomic and biological inputs for oilseed rape production

Soil health

Reducing crop disease risk through residue management

Use of chitinous biowaste streams as soil health amendments

Livestock systems

Best grazing options for soil health

Breeding climate resilient sheep

Crop diseases

Improving crop immunity to foliar diseases