BBSRC invests £50.9M in support of excellent agricultural science at Rothamsted Research to address grand challenges faced by farmers and society for the sustainability of food production and the environment.

  • 10
  • APR
  • 2017

Every five years, Rothamsted Research develops a revised science strategy, in order to deliver the knowledge and innovation required to address grand challenges faced by farmers and society for food production and environmental sustainability. Rothamsted Research is a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategically supported institute and investment by the BBSRC in Rothamsted’s science strategy, follows a robust, independent and international peer review process.

Rothamsted’s 2017-2022 science strategy is comprised of five multidisciplinary, interdependent programmes that are collaborative within the institute, funded from multiple sources, and in some cases, across institutes and other organisational research programmes. At Rothamsted, this research addresses challenges from the molecular to the landscape level focusing on arable and livestock farming systems. The 2017-2022 institute strategic programmes are:

  • Designing Future Wheat, a national collaborative wheat research programme involving the following organisations: John Innes Centre, Rothamsted Research, Earlham Institute, Institute of Food Research, University of Bristol, EBI, NIAB, University of Nottingham. Designing Future Wheat will develop and screen novel wheat germplasm for the next generation of key traits which will underpin sustainable and productive agriculture.
  • Tailoring Plant Metabolism for the Bioeconomy, a programme to enhance and exploit fundamental understanding of plant metabolism, to expand the value chains of existing niche crops, delivering a portfolio of high value plant products and plant germplasm.
  • Soil to Nutrition (Optimising Nutrient Flow) will advance farming systems through an enhanced mechanistic understanding of nutrient use efficiency, productivity and resilience from soil to food product.
  • Smart Crop Protection will adopt a gene to landscape approach to deliver more targeted and sustainable control of insect pests, weeds and diseases in agroecosystems.
  • Achieving Agricultural Sustainable Systems (ASSIST), a collaborative programme of research led by Rothamsted Research and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). ASSIST will develop and test innovative farming systems that increase food production and resilience to future perturbations, while reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture.

Research to deliver on the aims of the above five institute strategic programmes is further supported by three National Capabilities at Rothamsted Research: a) the Long-term Experiments and the associated electronic Rothamsted archive (e-RA), b) the Rothamsted Insect Survey (RIS) and c) the North-Wyke Farm Platform.

A strategic approach to Knowledge Exchange and Commercialization of research (KEC) is an integral component of the Rothamsted Research 2017-2022 science strategy, to ensure the effective dissemination of knowledge, and accelerate the delivery of innovation to farmers both nationally and internationally, and ultimately enable the realisation of the bio-based economy.

The BBSRC’s new investment of £50.9M will constitute the majority contribution to the delivery of the scientific research portfolio and KEC programme at Rothamsted Research, through their co-funding of ASSIST (together with NERC) and through major support of the first three programmes and the institutes’ national capabilities. The funding is confirmed until the end of 2020 and then indicative for two years, depending on BBSRC’s future allocations.

“BBSRC’s strategic funding investments in research, people and vital national capabilities at world leading bioscience institutes will deliver new knowledge and innovation and help realise the potential of a bio-based economy,” said Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC Chief Executive. “The positive impacts in food, agriculture, energy, materials and health will help drive economic growth and deliver benefits to society across the UK and beyond.”

Professor Achim Dobermann, Director and Chief Executive at Rothamsted Research commented: “We are delighted to have the long-term commitment and support by the BBSRC for the delivery of research objectives aiming to offer solutions for agriculture in some of the most challenging issues”

“This investment represents a substantive total percentage of our budget requirements. The remaining percentage is raised through competitive grants from other established funding authorities and it is a demonstration of the excellent work carried out by the world-class researchers and support staff, whom I am privileged to work with”, Achim Dobermann added.

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
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 £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. 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

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.