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Scientists from across the UK discuss new frontiers in crop research

Copyright: iStock

Scientists from across the UK shared exciting updates in crop research at the New Frontiers in Crop Research Conference organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Knowledge Transfer Network held at the Society of Chemical Industry, in London, on 20 October 2016.

With over 40 delegates from 25 organisations across the UK in attendance, the event fostered an interdisciplinary networking environment essential for innovation in the agri-food sector. The day focused on projects supported by BBSRC’s industry clubs and ways in which BBSRC supports academic-industry collaborations. 

Jennifer Postles, BBSRC Business Interaction Manager, presented an overview of BBSRC’s research-industry clubs, future funding opportunities, and encouraged academics and industrial scientists to catch up on the latest developments in UK crop science.

The nine research talks focused on enhancing growth and crop yields, improving quality and sustainability:

Copyright: Jevtic/iStock
Copyright: Jevtic/iStock
  • Dr Toby Bruce, Rothamsted Research, described a new system ‘CROPROTECT’ to improve access to information about crop protection. CROPROTECT is available on mobile devices accessed either as a website or via smartphone apps. Funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club (SARIC), it provides farmers and agronomists with guidance on pest, weed and disease management. The system already has over 900 pioneer users, not only does it provide management recommendations to users, it also provides useful feedback from users about the priorities of the UK arable sector
  • Dr Jim Monaghan, Harper-Adams University, outlined a genetic approach to improving postharvest quality in lettuce. The project funded under the Horticulture and Potato Initiative (HAPI), is gaining a better understanding of the genetic and biochemical regulation of post-harvest discolouration (pinking and browning). This may be a major reason why fresh produce fails to meet shelf life targets, adding to the high wastage in the UK salad industry (a value of £2.39M annually, with nearly 75% due to loss of quality)
  • Dr Lionel Dupuy, The James Hutton Institute, presented the Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC) funded project on high throughput root phenotyping and development of models to predict how crops utilise environmental resources to grow and produce yield. Although at an early stage, the technologies being developed within this project already show potential for applications in crop breeding

“BBSRC is the UK’s largest public funder of agricultural research and the projects presented at the conference showcase how we bring together researchers in academia and industry to solve challenges in a way that will advance the UK bioeconomy,” said James Phillips, BBSRC Senior Business Interaction Manager.



BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.


UK Research and Innovation Media Office

Tags: agritech bioeconomy crops frontier bioscience industrial biotechnology innovation BBSRC press release