15 October 2021
Partners in sustainable growing drive
AHDB and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are partnering to invest £500,000 in UK agriculture to help the industry transition to more sustainable practices, and ultimately net zero carbon by 2040.
The BBSRC funding will enable the development of up to 10 projects that directly respond to priorities identified by farmers for achieving a more sustainable agricultural system. This includes determining more ways farmers and growers can cut GHG emissions and increase storage of carbon.
The partnership will support the industry by providing funds for the UK’s world-leading bioscience researchers, based at Universities and Institutes. Enabling them to make progress on pressing issues and generate new collaborations, and scientific knowledge that will contribute to longer-term research efforts.
AHDB and BBRSC will work together to deliver world class research and innovation for food and farming, focusing on six priority areas:
1. Improving sustainability of cropping systems
2. Management of organic materials
3. Improving performance of grasslands
4. Livestock breeding and management for improved climate resilience and reduction of GHG emissions
5. Precision farming and management
6. Sustainable management of pests, weeds, and diseases
The priorities reflect challenges identified through consultation with farmers as part of the Rapid Evidence Assessment, which will help prepare for AHDB’s ‘What Works Centre’ as supported by the National Food Strategy, explains James Holmes, AHDB’s Environment Senior Scientist.
“For farmers and growers to reduce GHG emissions and store carbon they need easy access to the latest science and practical guidance - to be able to make the best decision for their business. By securing independent research funds such as this, farmers benefit from publicly-funded research.”
Both AHDB and BBSRC are building partnerships for the sector, recent examples the forthcoming Net Zero Cropping report with NFU and CHAP and the Sustainable agri-food network for net zero with BBSRC, ESPRC, ESRC and NERC.
AHDB’s Head of Environment Dr Jonathan Foot, said: “AHDB has now led several influential industry groups and time and time again it is clear we need more research in key areas, more knowledge, and more understanding. It is only then we can fully understand what the boundaries are for our industry in its ability to reduce GHG emissions, or its role in carbon storage.
“What is also clear is that research is going to be crucial. On-farm efficiencies will only take us so far, it will be technological advances and innovation that will take us the final step in achieving net zero, and that requires serious investment.”
BBSRC’s Head of Business Engagement & Intelligence, Dr Ruth Nottingham explains: “Farmers and growers in the UK are changing their farming practices. We support the ambitions of the sector for net zero and are pleased to partner with AHDB.”