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Consultation launched to shape new investment in agricultural research facility

26 November 2009

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has today (26 November) launched a consultation on the details of a proposed investment of over £1M in a new farm-scale research facility at North Wyke Research in Devon. North Wyke Research is part of Rothamsted Research. Rothamsted Research is an institute of BBSRC and is the oldest research station in the UK.

BBSRC has committed funding to the development of a farm-based research platform at North Wyke to enable scientists to understand how different approaches affect the productivity and sustainability of farming. This will include examining the environmental impact of agricultural activity within the farm environment. The new platform will be based on currently farmed land at the North Wyke research station and will involve the installation of new ditches, drainage and the latest instrumentation.

Knowledge gained from the work will inform ways that farmers can increase productivity and help to meet the growing food security challenge in a sustainable way.

Before finalising plans for the farm-based platform an open consultation has been launched. BBSRC is hoping that scientists, farmers and other key stakeholders take the opportunity to answer questions about scientific priorities, funding models and access to the facility. A number of questions to be answered are suggested by BBSRC, some of which deal with the specific scientific and technical aspects of the platform and others that are more generally focussed. BBSRC expects that respondents will answer some or all of these questions as appropriate and also welcomes feedback on any aspect of the proposal.

Prof Janet Allen, BBSRC Director of Research, said: “We need to grow more food sustainably in this country. Pressures on global food production from growing populations and changing consumption patterns mean we have no option. However, we can’t do this at the expense of the environment. To understand how farming and the environment interact, scientists need to be able to study the whole agriculture system and the most important part of this is at the farm level. The new investment will provide the UK with a significant tool to develop sustainable ways to deliver secure food supplies.

“It is important that BBSRC investments deliver results for their users and value-for-money for the UK public. This consultation will give everyone interested in this project, including scientists, farmers and the local community, the chance to have their views heard before final plans are made.”

The consultation is open now and will close on Friday 18 December. For full details see:



The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.