Anne Miller

Dr Anne Miller

Associate Director - Research

Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network


Successful soils workshop


More than 50 representatives from industry, academia, policy making and 3rd sector got together on 27th January to contribute to a joint NERC / ESKTN workshop with the aim of exploring current  and future challenges to soil sustainability and identifying future research priorities that would allow effective responses to those challenges.


The group also considered the use of the Natural Capital Stocks framework as a means of assigning value to diverse soil functions.


Copies of the speakers presentations can be found here

or under the documents library section of our subgroup on soil health and in-situ land remediation.

New Agri-food Innovation research call announced: Consortium building events in February


Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform Consortium building events

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) in partnership with Defra, BBSRC & the Scottish Government will soon be launching the second call of the Sustainable Agriculture & Food Innovation Platform. The call will focus on collaborative R&D projects aimed at meeting the challenge of ‘Sustainable Protein Production’.

In preparation for the call there will be a series of one day consortium building events:

11th February - Edinburgh (Primary focus: All aspects including aquaculture)

15th February - Newport (Primary focus: Ruminant livestock and grassland)

17th February - Peterborough (Primary focus: vegetable protein and pigs & poultry)

Sorry aboutthe short notice of these dates, this was due to a delay in the competition being signed off.

Further details on the consortium building events will be sent out next week, but in the meantime please try and put at least one of these dates in your diary.

New Global Phosphate Network Launched

The GLOBAL PHOSPHORUS NETWORK ( is now up and running. Membership is free and by becoming a member, you will be able to join the growing global network of scientists, policy-makers, practitioners and individuals with an interest in sustainable use of phosphorus to ensure the world’s food needs are met in the long-term future. 


 to become a member



Without phosphorus, we cannot produce food. Our main source of phosphorus is finite and becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. Yet our leaders don't have a plan for ensuring all the world's farmers have access to sufficient phosphorus to grow enough food to feed the world in the long term. Phosphorus is currently wasted and is polluting our waters as we mine it, apply it to fields as fertilizers and excrete it from the food we consume. If we're smart, we can instead capture and reuse phosphorus efficiently. But we need to take action now.



Help be part of the solution - learn, discuss, debate, act with sustainable phosphorus use scientists, innovators and policy-makers from around the world. 



News & events:read latest news on sustainable P policies, discoveries, views & upcoming events

Discussion forum:Debate & discuss the key current policies, science, technologies, perspectives & mobilize action

Library:One-stop-shop for all reports, articles, resources and links related to sustainable P issues

Member directory:Find other sustainable P people from around the world

Feedback:Members are invited to suggest news, events, discussion topics, resources and other items



All issues of global relevance related to sustainable phosphorus use, food security and environmental protection, including:

Global phosphate reserves

Phosphorus & food security

Phosphorus use efficiency

Phosphorus recovery & reuse

Phosphorus pollution & waste

Phosphorus – general sustainability

Fencing to clean up water courses!

 Building good fences could make our water cleaner, and help us to meet European standards, according to researchers working on the UK research councils’ Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (Relu).

Relu scientists have created a computer model to investigate the problem of faecal pollution in UK rivers. The organisms come mainly from farm animals’ faeces and untreated human sewage.


As sewage treatment has improved over recent years, human sewage is less problematic, except in times of heavy rainfall, when less efficient treatment works pose a threat. But livestock, and dairy cattle in particular, continue to be a major contributor of harmful organisms. The research shows that there is a high risk of faecal pollution entering watercourses within areas with high densities of dairy cattle.

The UK has to tackle this problem, not only because of the health risks for those such as canoeists and paddlers, especially children, who are directly exposed to pollution in rivers, but also because of European legislation. At the moment, many of our watercourses do not meet the requirements of the European Water Framework Directive.

One way of reducing the numbers of faecal organisms would be to have fewer farm animals grazing in vulnerable areas near rivers. But, for some dairy farmers, a reduction in stocking densities could have serious implications for their livelihoods and there could be economic consequences for wider rural communities.

So, drawing on work from several projects across the Relu research programme, the team created a computer model to investigate different approaches to tackling the problem. These included government interventions that would directly restrict stocking levels and simpler, everyday solutions, such as erecting fences to prevent livestock depositing faeces directly into watercourses.

They found that simple farm-scale solutions are likely to be most effective at reducing the numbers of potentially dangerous organisms entering watercourses  and could work out cheaper both for farmers and consumers.

Danyel Hampson, from the University of East Anglia, who worked on the computer model, said: “We looked at several policy options available to Defra, such as designating at-risk areas as environmentally sensitive areas, direct restraints on production such as reducing the number of cattle, and taxing nitrogen fertilisers to curb their use, thereby lowering the nutritional quality of the grass, so that the land would feed fewer animals and be grazed less intensively.

“But animals having direct access to the water seems to be one of the major risks. The simple solution of fencing off cattle from rivers is probably one of the most effective ways farmers have of reducing faecal material contaminating watercourses. From the farmer’s point of view, it is a solution that they can get on and do. What is more, funding for fencing is available to farmers from the Defra Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme.”

Professor Philip Lowe, Director of the Relu programme added: “The installation and maintenance of streamside fencing is already supported to a limited extent under some agri-environment schemes, but these findings suggest that it would be beneficial to water quality if these options could be significantly extended and actively promoted to livestock farmers.”


Being Green can be rewarding!

The  Environment Agency are looking to reward those who are top of their class at their high profile annual conference in London: get your nominations for top of the class in now!



Environment 10 Conference:

We are looking for potential award winners to reward at our national conference, Environment 10, on Wednesday 24 November 2010. Environment 10 brings together regulators, government agencies, local government, business and campaign groups.  They’ll discuss the coming four years for the environment, the dilemmas and the solutions for policy makers and strategic planners.

The Environmental Pioneer Awards will recognise organisations that lead the way on environmental performance in the following categories:

  1. Best private sector organisation
  2. Best public sector organisation
  3. Pioneering technology and innovation award
  4. Cleaner water award
  5. Waste reduction award
  6. Pioneering biodiversity programme
  7. Energy performance and CO reduction
  8. Environment Agency staff award for environmental achievement. Environment Agency staff will nominate and vote for those individuals or organisations that consistently lead the way in their ambition and performance on environmental issues.
 Please encourage your contacts in the public, private and charity sectors to enter our awards, through the Environment 2010 website(the awards are free to enter). The deadline for entries is Friday 8 October.

For more information visit Easinet:


Entry form:


Speakers at Environment 10 include the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Roger Harrabin BBC Environment Analyst; Peter Kendall President, National Farmers Union; and Julia Evans Chief Executive, National Federation of Builders.  


The future of the global food system

The Government Office for Science will be publishing their Foresight report The Future of Global Food and Farming Systems next month, but ahead of this you can read the key documents in a special edition of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions, freely downloadable as pdfs at:


They offer a really authoritative review of how the future for food and farming looks until 2050 and will doubtless be the foundation for an awful lot of events that our KTN could be involved with. starting with our proposed Food Security and Sustainability joint workshop scheduled to take place in early December to co-incide with the Foresight report publication

Can science feed the world?

 A special issue of Nature recently publsihed offers a really accessible account of the challenges and opportunities facing us over the next 2 decades as we try to navigate the future facing us with  'perfect storm' of rising temperatures and numbers of mouths to feed with, cheap fuel, water and other resources becoming scarcer.


"What is needed is a second green revolution — an approach that Britain's Royal Society aptly describes as the “sustainable intensification of global agriculture”. Such a revolution will require a wholesale realignment of priorities in agricultural research. There is an urgent need for new crop varieties that offer higher yields but use less water, fertilizers or other inputs — created, for example, through long-neglected research on modifying roots — and for crops that are more resistant to drought, heat, submersion and pests. Equally crucial is lower-tech research into basics such as crop rotation, mixed farming of animals and plants on smallholder farms, soil management and curbing waste. (Between one-quarter and one-third of the food produced worldwide is lost or spoiled.)


Lots of opportunities for our researchers and businesses to innovate spectacularly here: and if you want some inspiring UK stories in this connection look no further than Syngenta's Golden Rice partnership work (incorporating extra Vitamin A into the grain by GM) or Nottingham University's work on introducing nitrogen fixation into cereal crop roots reported in this issue. 


Please let us know if you have any more good news and innovation stories from your research that we can share with a wider community


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