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BBSRC-Newton Fund Call for Virtual Joint Centres with Brazil, China and India in Agricultural Nitrogen

BBSRC, NERC and partners in Brazil, China and India are delighted to announce a Newton Fund call for Virtual Joint Centres in Agricultural Nitrogen.

Applications are invited to enable bilateral research activities in the form of Virtual Joint Centres with one of Brazil, China or India for up to three years in duration.

Application deadline: 22 July 2015, 4pm GMT



The purpose of the call is to establish a number of Virtual Joint Centres to explore ways to sustain or improve current levels of crop production with lower energy inputs and reduced environmental impacts.  Virtual Joint Centres should enable innovative research which will lead to the production of high yields of crops with lower inputs of nitrogen fertiliser. 

A Virtual Joint Centre should include a core research programme supported by a range of partnering activities.  Where applicable, project partners should align existing resources and infrastructure to augment the research programme thereby building new links or strengthening existing links.  The output from the Virtual Joint Centre should be the delivery of exciting new research and strengthened bilateral strategic relationships between the UK and partner countries.

The types, and combinations, of activities which can be supported in a Virtual Joint Centre are intended to be fairly flexible to enable the most appropriate activities and ways of working to support the research programme. 


Scientific objectives

The Funders aim to support innovative basic, strategic or applied research that will enable crop production to be enhanced in ways that make appropriate use of fertilisers (or potential alternative sources of nitrogen) to optimise yields, while maintaining the quality of soil, water and air, and reducing adverse impacts on terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

New advances in bioscience, precision agriculture and phenomics, coupled with improvements in agronomy, offer the potential to optimise nitrogen application rates and develop management practices tailored to specific environmental conditions and crop species.  Such advances make more effective management of nitrogen use within farming systems a valid and timely target. 

Relevant scientific themes that could be supported by Virtual Joint Centres include:

  • Agronomic nitrogen use efficiency:  optimising farm practices and soil management to make more effective use of fertilisers and reduce losses of reactive nitrogen to the environment.
  • Biological nitrogen use efficiency:  improving the efficiency of nitrogen uptake or metabolism by plants.
  • Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF):  enhancing nitrogen-fixation in legumes or exploiting the potential of BNF in non-leguminous plants.

Integrative, multidisciplinary and multi-scale approaches are encouraged, and there is particular scope for interaction between plant, agricultural and environmental scientists, and on nitrogen use in the context of the global nitrogen cycle, at the interface between the remits of BBSRC and NERC. 



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