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P1908312: AHDB/BBSRC Pilot Initiative: Rapid response to high priority pests and diseases in UK Horticulture

P1908312: AHDB/BBSRC Pilot Initiative: Rapid response to high priority pests and diseases in UK Horticulture

Purpose/Primary objective

UK horticultural growers face increasing pressure from crop pests, weeds and diseases, due to a combination of new non-indigenous threats, emerging pesticide resistance issues and increasing regulatory pressure on the availability and type of plant protection products.

This pilot initiative between AHDB and BBSRC will address critical research questions associated with high priority pests and diseases that present a significant threat to UK horticultural production. We will work in partnership to support approximately five projects of around £49,999 per proposal and 3-5 months in duration. Priority pests and diseases (see below) have been identified by AHDB, working closely with its industry-led Horticulture Sector Panels and industry crop associations. 

AHDB and BBSRC wish to invite research and appropriate knowledge exchange activities to test approaches and develop strategies to improve the understanding, management and control of priority pests and diseases. Applicants are encouraged to consider how these activities may generate preliminary findings that underpin high-quality proposals to UKRI grant mechanisms and enable access to other funding opportunities. It is anticipated that the projects may also enable researchers to engage more effectively with AHDB funding for research and knowledge exchange. 

AHDB will lead the dissemination of the research outputs to growers, providing a direct pathway to impact for the industry.


The financial contribution is made by BBSRC and therefore awards are only available to researchers eligible for UKRI Research Council funding, see guidance:

Further guidance on eligibility and collaboration with industry and other users is available in the BBSRC grants guide: Applicants may also contact: with any queries.

Application process 

Researchers are invited to submit applications responding to the scope and priorities of the call, as explained in this document, and using the attached application form by 12:00 noon on 16 September 2019. Applicants may submit a joint proposal if complementary expertise has been identified which would enable the submission to more fully respond to the scope and priorities.

The proposals will be assessed by expert panel review against the criteria described below.

Applicants will be informed of the assessment outcome by AHDB. Successful proposals will be monitored by AHDB which will undertake to disseminate the findings directly to the grower community. 

Initiative management

This pilot initiative will be managed by BBSRC and AHDB, which will work together to make the awards. AHDB will be responsible for monitoring the delivery and outcomes of awarded projects. AHDB will disseminate the findings directly to the grower community.

Call & scope

Eligible researchers are invited to submit applications in an open call that specifically address research questions associated with the high priority pests and diseases listed in the table below.    

Pests and diseases

Latin Name



Various spp.

Pepper, Lettuce, Babyleaf salads,  Strawberry, Raspberry, Tree Fruit

Bacterial blotch

Pseudomonas tolaasii, Pseudomonas gingeri


Brown marmorated stink bug

Halyomorpha halys

Apple, Pear, Cherry, Blueberries, Cauliflower, Asparagus,

Cavity Spot

Pythium spp.


Common green capsid

Lygocoris pabulinus

Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry

Downy mildew

Peronospora belbahrii, Peronospora destructor, Peronospora lamii, Plasmopara umbelliferarum, Peronospora belbahrii

Herbs: Basil, chive, parsley, sage


Erwinia pyrifoliae



Fusarium oxysporum spp.

Bulb and salad onions, Lettuce


Nesidiocoris tenuis


Pythium damping-off and root rot

 Pythium spp.

Babyleaf salads, Spinach, lettuce

South American tomato moth

Tuta absoluta


Spotted Winged Drosophila

Drosophila suzukii

Soft and stone fruit

Stemphylium purple spot

Stemphylium vesicarium



Frankliniella occidentalis, Frankliniella intonsa, Thrips tabaci, Thrips major

Strawberry, Pepper, Cucumber

Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV)

Tobamovirus, ToBRFV

Tomato and Pepper

Woolly Apple Aphid

Eriosoma lanigerum


Desirable research areas/objectives

AHDB and BBSRC are keen to see research on the following key areas: 

  • Fundamental study of the biology of pests and diseases - including biological and population studies, diversity and abundance studies, mechanisms of infection and spread.
  • Pathogen detection - develop and test methods for early detection of pests and pathogens. New or existing methods could be developed or expanded for practical and inexpensive early detection of biological crop threats. A tool/service for fast and early identification of pests/pathogens could be an outcome.
  • New control measures - develop and evaluate new methods for management and control. AHDB and BBSRC welcome new ideas for methods of control that could include, but are not limited to, biological controls and crop management through environmental growing conditions. Any new proposed methods must be likely to be approved and accepted in commercial growing practices. 

Knowledge Exchange

The outputs listed below are considered a minimum; potential researchers are encouraged to outline other relevant knowledge exchange activities for industry. 

  • A final report to AHDB

  • Short article for AHDB Grower magazine

Project duration and budget

The investment will support five projects of approximately £49,999 per project and 3-5 months in duration. Projects must be completed by 29 February 2020. 

The awards will fund direct costs only, including both directly incurred and directly allocated costs, at 100% fEC. This includes travel and salaries. Investigator and staff time can be charged to individual projects as required. 

The awards may not be used to fund estates, overhead and indirect costs. This includes generic staff posts not directly related to the funded projects. 

Award holders will be required to submit supporting documentation to AHDB to enable payments to be made. BBSRC will require a transaction listing that shows the name of the supplier, the amount and the date paid. Copies of invoices are not required, however BBSRC may request supporting documentation for any costs and this includes copies of any invoices. 

Completion and submission of the application form

Please refer to the guidance notes for completion of application forms. Applicants should complete the AHDB Research and KE Application Form - Full Proposal Small, completed forms must be emailed to no later than 12.00 noon on the 16 September 2019. 

Please note, a seperate application form must be completed for each project proposed.

Applications are made on the basis of the AHDB Research Funding Agreement and any organisation receiving funding shall comply with the terms and conditions specified in the Contract. AHDB will not be held responsible for any expenses or losses incurred by applicants in the preparation of an application(s).

Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Stage of process


Call published

29 August 2019

Full proposal submission deadline

16 September 2019 (12:00 Noon)

Applicants informed of the outcome

7 October 2019

Anticipated start date

14 October 2019

Project duration

3-5 months (Ending 29 February 2020)


If you have a specific question related to this call, please email As part of the open tender process, AHDB cannot discuss specific project details with you before submitting your proposal. All Questions and Answers will be anonymised and published.

Assessment criteria

Please note that the assessment criteria have been slightly altered for this tender, please see below: 

Project Title:




SECTION 2: PROJECT OUTCOMES Beneficiaries appropriately identified. Novel approaches to deliver industry KE and links to existing AHDB KE activities. Appropriateness and clarity of industry engagement. Timeframe qualified to deliver project outputs and impact. Clarification over additional activities/resource required to deliver impact. Environmental benefits appropriately identified and any negative impacts detailed. Key Performance Indicators identified. Clear IP exploitation plan and route to further research or commercial development where relevant. 0-10 score; weighting of 3




Score:        x3 =

SECTION 3: TECHNICAL APPROACH AND WORK PLAN Scientific evaluation of current knowledge (appropriate references used) and awareness of other work. Clarity of aims, objectives, work packages and milestone schedule. Originality & innovation. Effective collaboration with commercial companies and relevant research organisations. Is the approach statistically robust? Feasibility and risk management. Project management structure and responsibilities clearly defined.  0-10 score; weighting of 3




Score:        x3 =

SECTION 4: RELEVANT KNOWELEDGE AND EXPERTISE Quality of past contributions to, and impact on, the topic demonstrated. Potential to bring added value through current and/or past contributions. Complementarities of expertise of the team and roles of collaborating organisations (if relevant) clearly defined.  0-10 score; weighting of 3




Score:        x3 =

SECTION 5: PROJECT COSTS Are costs reasonable and necessary? Will the total budget be adequate to carry out the proposed activities? Added value of co-funding? 0-10 score; weighting of 1





Score:        x1 =

Total Score            out of 100   (Threshold = 50)

Recommend for Funding           Yes / No