Scaling-up key to meet food security challenge
18 January 2010
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is today (18 January) meeting with 50 leading agri-food scientists to identify coordinated ways to translate lab-based research into farm-scale projects to address the future global food security challenges.
Delegates at the two-day BBSRC Agri-Systems Strategy Workshop in Gloucestershire will look at how current research into the individual basic components of agri-systems, such as crop productivity, livestock management, soil fertility, nitrogen usage and greenhouse gas emissions can be combined and replicated on a larger scale in order to meet the challenge of maximum food production at minimum cost to the environment.
Prof Janet Allen, BBSRC Director of Research, said: “We need to grow more food, more sustainably. To do this, we need a clear vision for the best way to use systems biology approaches to scale-up exciting lab-based and small-scale field trials into workable farm-scale studies, the findings of which can then be translated into developing sustainable, high-yielding agricultural practice.
“We also need to recognise that farming exists within a wider environmental ecosystem. Developing sustainable increases in food production requires us to understand how farming and the natural environment interact at a systems level.”
BBSRC, the UK’s largest funder of agri-food research, has already committed funding to the development of a farm-based research platform at North Wyke in Devon, to enable scientists to understand how different approaches affect the productivity and sustainability of farming, the effects of environmental change on agriculture and to provide crucial farm-scale data to UK scientists.
Findings from this workshop, alongside emerging themes from the recent consultation on the role of North Wyke Research will help identify key research needs to ensure the food security challenge is met sustainably.
Notes for editors
North Wyke Research is part of Rothamsted Research, an institute of BBSRC.
Submissions are still being accepted for the North Wyke Consultation:
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 £450M 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. www.bbsrc.ac.uk
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