Long-term collaboration will combine expertise and support future scientists with a focus on research into sustainable agriculture and soil health

  • 24
  • MAY
  • 2019

Rothamsted Research and BASF are working together in a long-term collaboration to shape modern sustainable agriculture. The goal is to jointly address current agricultural challenges by identifying areas of R&D where novel approaches to science can accelerate innovation. The first initiative, designed as a hands-on training program, is a Sustainability Challenge that enables early career scientists to discuss their ideas on the future of farming in a corporate environment. In addition, BASF and Rothamsted are launching PhD studentships focusing on soil management.

“We are encouraging the Rothamsted scientists to take a critical look at agricultural practices, address environmental, social and economic challenges through scientific research, and develop valuable practical skills for multidisciplinary projects,” said Julia Harnal, Head of Global Sustainability and Governmental Affairs at BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division. “This is how we will drive modern sustainable agriculture together.”

Sustainability Challenge

The Sustainability Challenge is framed as a competition to develop skills in collaborative research projects. Teams of Rothamsted researchers from all over the world are challenged to develop proposals on topics such as the future of farming, sustainable agriculture or innovation to mitigate the effects of climate change. The program includes coaching from BASF experts and a leading Design Thinking agency on how to co-design collaborations with partners. The first challenge took place this year. After successfully pitching their concepts, the winning teams visited the headquarters of BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division in Limburgerhof, Germany, earlier this year, to exchange ideas on sustainable farming with industry experts.

“We are delighted to partner with BASF. No single organization can solve today’s agricultural challenges alone, so this is a great chance for our young researchers to learn what makes a collaboration project with industry successful,” said Professor Achim Dobermann, Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research.

PhD studentships on soil health

Healthy soil is essential for successful sustainable farming and plays a vital role in addressing climate change. To accelerate research in soil health, PhD scientists will work with experienced multidisciplinary teams from Rothamsted, BASF and universities to address critical scientific knowledge gaps in soil health.

Two PhD positions in this co-hort have already been filled but one exciting opportunity is still available. If you are an early-career researcher interested in doing a PhD on a cutting-edge topic in soil health, but want to have concrete impact with industry during your time with us, check out our advert:

The deadline for applications is Friday, 9 August, 2019

More information at

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.