CLEAN SWEEP FOR AGRICULTURE
The government today released its long-awaited Industrial Strategy, with agricultural R&D a key component of the drive for more enterprising and sustainable growth.
Agricultural research and development features prominently under “Clean Growth”, one of the four Grand Challenges of the government’s new “Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future”, announced today.
“We will put the UK at the forefront of the global move to high-efficiency agriculture,” says the 255-page white paper. “Over the coming years, we will increase the incentives for investment in sustainable agriculture, helping to grow the markets for innovative technologies and techniques.”
Food production “needs to be significantly more efficient and sustaintable”, it says. “By using precision technologies, we can make that a reality: transform food production whilst reducing emissions, pollution, waste and soil erosion.”
The Field Scanalyzer's digital array of cameras, laser scanners and sensors provide continuous data on performances of experimental crops; top, the octocopter drone records data from field experiments
Achim Doberman, Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research, welcomed the white paper’s focus on agriculture, and called for concerted action now so that UK can see the benefits of “Clean Growth” on the ground, and fast.
“We need to accelerate the excellent science we clearly have in the system,” says Dobermann. “And we need to manage investment in a new way, so that it very quickly addresses the challenges in agriculture and we can position the UK well for the post-Brexit period.
He adds: “The UK needs a strong and competitive agricultural industry that is efficient, competitive and diverse, and farming that is sustainable – that’s clean agricultural growth.”
Angela Karp, Rothamsted’s Director for Science Innovation, Engagement and Partnerships, emphasised that it is what we do with the UK’s great science that matters.
“We need a dynamic, new model that focuses on the fuel that drives the engines of innovation,” says Karp. “That means less time thinking about new buildings, and more on how we ensure the research we do is translated into impacts that benefit the UK; less time planning and reviewing, and more time on co-development and on ‘lean’ approaches, where innovation is tested through sharing and engagement, and either succeeds, or fails, fast.”
Copies of the Industrial Strategy are available, here.
For more on the role of agriculture in the Industrial Strategy, watch our video interview with Ottoline Leyser, Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, recorded here, after her talk in the Rothamsted Seminar Series on 20 November.
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 https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/; 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
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.