Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Research Strategy at Rothamsted

Rothamsted Research has a vision to be a world-leading research centre in plant and soil science for sustainable agriculture.

Over the next 10-30 years, it is predicted that enormous pressure will be put on the world to supply enough food, energy and clean water, as we mitigate and adapt to climate change (1,2). Agricultural holds the key to finding solutions to this grand challenge, it is globally the main producer of food and both a producer and consumer of energy. It is also the main global consumer of water, currently consuming 70% of total 'blue water' withdrawals from rivers and aquifers. What’s more it is both affected by and contributes to man-made climate change, for example agriculture is estimated to contribute to 10 to 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our Mission Statement

To perform world-class research to deliver knowledge, innovation and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production.

Clearly scientific research has an important role to play to meet this challenge and Rothamsted Research has developed a scientific strategy, based on 4 themes that will be integral to meeting this challenge.

The purpose of the Strategy is to ensure Rothamsted Research is performing cutting edge scientific research on the critical factors responsible for plant productivity, crop quality and agricultural sustainability and engage with the public to translate results into robust technologies that can be used by policymakers, agribusinesses, food manufacturers energy companies and farmers to improve crop yields and enhance nutrition, contribute to energy security, reduce the carbon footprint of farming and protect and nurture the agricultural environment.

No single approach can deliver sustainable agriculture with high productivity and value. A broad perspective that encompasses the whole plant system is needed and a careful balance of approaches is required. This should include biotechnology, but also include areas of science such as agronomy and agro-ecology so we can understand how existing and new knowledge can be implemented through agricultural practice.

This Strategy will therefore be delivered through four outcome-focused progammes, which are consistent with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategy, The Age of Bioscience, and draw on the best expertise at Rothamsted Research.

The four themes of the Rothamsted Research Science Strategy

  1. 20:20 Wheat ®: iIncreasing wheat productivity to yield 20 tonnes per hectare in 20 years.
  2. Cropping Carbon: Optimising carbon capture by grasslands and perennial energy crops, such as Willow, to help underpin the UK's transition to a low carbon economy.
  3. Designing seeds: Harnessing our expertise in seed biology and biochemistry to deliver improved health and nutrition through seeds.
  4. Delivering Sustainable Systems: Designing, modelling and assessing sustainable agricultural systems that increase productivity while minimising environmental impact.

These strategic themes are underpinned by four BBSRC-funded National Capabilities

We believe this comprehensive strategy utilises the strengths of Rothamsted Research and not only embraces systems biology and biotechnology, but also draws on our deep knowledge of agronomy, soil science and agro-ecology. At the heart of this Strategy is a customer focus with a need to provide the knowledge and innovation to policymakers, manufacturers and most importantly the farming community who are integral to delivering sustainable food security. This strategy therefore combines our long-standing tradition, with vision.

References

1. OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2009-2018. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2009.

2. Foresight. The Future of Food and Farming: Final Project Report. Government Office for Science, 2011.

Cropping Carbon

Optimising carbon capture by grasslands and perennial energy crops, such as Willow, to help underpin the UK's transition to a low carbon economy.

20:20 Wheat ®

Increasing wheat productivity to yield 20 tonnes per hectare in 20 years.

Designing Seeds for Nutrition and Health

Harnessing our expertise in seed biology and biochemistry to deliver improved health and nutrition through seeds.

Delivering Sustainable Systems

Designing, modelling and assessing sustainable agricultural systems that increase productivity while minimising environmental impact.

Rothamsted GM Wheat Trial

A controlled experiment, combining modern genetic engineering with our knowledge of natural plant defences to test whether wheat that can repel aphid attack works in the field.

National Capabilities

BBSRC funds a number of ‘national capabilities’ that are hosted and maintained at Institutes.