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£3M awarded to boost sustainable agriculture

Ten new interdisciplinary projects have today received a share of £3M to improve the sustainability of UK farming. The funding was awarded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) alongside 12 industry partners.

The grants totalling £3.2M were funded in the second round of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club (SARIC), which supports interdisciplinary projects to provide solutions to key challenges affecting the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of the UK crop and livestock sectors. SARIC is coordinated by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

Among the funded research studies is work to improve the weather resilience of crops, sensing soil nitrogen, and advanced technologies for crop management. The translational studies include work to establish decision tools for slurry usage and potato cyst nematode management, devices to assess and improve the use of animal nutrients, and an assessment of the risks of pesticide run-off.

Speaking on behalf of the collaborating UK Research Councils, Dr Karen Lewis, BBSRC Interim Executive Director, Innovation and Skills, said: “The projects recommended for funding through this round of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club will contribute to addressing issues relevant both to sustainable intensification of farming and the agricultural industry.

“We are pleased that the projects will investigate a diverse range of topics that explore biological, environmental and social issues in agriculture. The SARIC community is well placed to ensure the results of these studies can be translated into benefits for society.”

SARIC was formed following consultation with trade associations, levy boards, policy makers and academia. The discussions identified a need to bring together researchers from the environmental, biological and social sciences with industry, to translate knowledge for the purpose of progressing towards more sustainable agricultural systems.

Industry partners pay a subscription fee to be part of SARIC and benefit from improved connectivity with the UK research base and early access to research and translation outcomes. This five year public-private partnership will result in approximately £10M being invested to address key challenges identified by industry.

For more information about SARIC visit:


SARIC funded research projects

  • Increasing the resilience of cereal and oilseed rape production to weather damage Lancaster University

  • Real-time in situ sensing of soil nitrogen status to promote enhanced nitrogen use efficiency in agricultural systems University of Bangor

  • Advanced technologies for efficient crop management: A participatory approach with application at farm scale University of Edinburgh


SARIC funded translational research projects

  • Real-time predictions of pesticide run-off risk multi-scale visualisations of water quality risks and costs University of Leeds

  • Low-cost fibre optic matting for direct live-mapping of livestock weight to improve feed efficiency. Development, demonstration & imaging integration University of Manchester

  • Hand Held Technologies for Assessment of Nutrient Digestibility Aberystwyth University

  • Novel animal-mounted sensor technology to improve efficiency and sustainability SRUC

  • Delivering a decision-support framework – Newcastle University

  • Development of a PCN population advisory tool that provides robust advice and management University of Leeds

  • Holistic decision-support system for organic slurry storage and treatment techniques for maximum nutrient use efficiencies (SLURRY-MAX) Lancaster University


Story source: BBSRC press release, 25 Aug 2016

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