Plants for Food and Feed

Crop production supports the UK food sector, which contributes £129 billion to the economy (7% of GDP) and supports 3.7 million jobs.


Future Challenges for Crop Production

  • In 2008/09, the UK produced more than 24 M tonnes of cereals representing an average value of £2.6 billion. During the same year, the UK exported 5.4 M tonnes of cereal and oilseed rape, contributing over £813 million to UK GDP.
  • The agricultural sector is underpinned by a Gross Value Added supply chain worth £1.2 billion (including pesticides, fertilisers, agricultural machinery and animal feed) . Click here for information...
  • Conflicting pressures are associated with the challenges of food supply and security in the next 40 years, where there is an urgent need to increase agricultural productivity alongside the introduction of target-based drivers to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the sector.

KTN's Plant Sector Group members have identified five main issues for the challenge of increasing agricultural production whilst reducing emissions:

  • Methane production in ruminants
  • Nitrogen use efficiency and crops
  • Phosphorus use in UK agriculture
  • Soils and Fertility
  • Water use efficiency


Non-Food Applications

Agricultural products will have increasing pressure for their use in non-food industrial applications in the coming century.

  • Biorefining is a new and expanding industry, which will provide new opportunities for developing crop varieties with improved characteristics for primary (bioethanol) and secondary (animal feed) biorefining products (e.g. wheat with high-starch content and improved performance characteristics for animal feed markets). 
  • A rapidly expanding middle-class from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries will increase demands on agriculture to provide feed to support an expanding meat and dairy industry in these emerging economies.
  • New international market opportunities will emerge with these changes to global affluence demographics and represent an area which the UK can target to build upon its strong science-base and industry capacity in agriculture and food sectors.

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KTN's Plant Sector Publications

KTN's Plant Sector has developed a series of publications to highlight the economic benefit of research and development to the agriculture and food industry. 


New forage varieties for the sustainable intensification of the livestock agriculture

April 2011


Analysis of the economic impact of plants breeding in the UK

April 2011


Analysis of the impact of crop protection chemistry on agricultural production

May 2011


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