AHDB and BBRSC announce £0.5m farm sustainability partnership

AHDB and BBSRC are partnering to invest £500,000 in UK agriculture to help the industry transition to more sustainable practices, and ultimately net zero carbon by 2040.

The BBSRC funding will enable the development of up to 10 projects that directly respond to priorities identified by farmers for achieving a more sustainable agricultural system. This includes determining more ways farmers and growers can cut GHG emissions and increase storage of carbon.

The partnership will support the industry by providing funds for the UK’s world-leading bioscience researchers, based at Universities and Institutes. Enabling them to make progress on pressing issues and generate new collaborations, and scientific knowledge that will contribute to longer-term research efforts.

AHDB and BBRSC will work together to deliver world class research and innovation for food and farming, focusing on six priority areas:

1. Improving sustainability of cropping systems
2. Management of organic materials
3. Improving performance of grasslands
4. Livestock breeding and management for improved climate resilience and reduction of GHG emissions
5. Precision farming and management
6. Sustainable management of pests, weeds, and diseases

The priorities reflect challenges identified through consultation with farmers as part of the Rapid Evidence Assessment, which will help prepare for AHDB’s ‘What Works Centre’ as supported by the National Food Strategy, explains James Holmes, AHDB’s Environment Senior Scientist.

“For farmers and growers to reduce GHG emissions and store carbon they need easy access to the latest science and practical guidance – to be able to make the best decision for their business. By securing independent research funds such as this, farmers benefit from publicly funded research in addition to that funded by their own levy.”

Both AHDB and BBSRC are building partnerships for the sector, recent examples include WRAP and the Meat in a Net Zero world initiative, CIEL’s Net Zero Carbon and UK livestock report, the forthcoming Net Zero Cropping report with NFU and CHAP, the Sustainable agri-food network for net zero with BBSRC, ESPRC, ESRC, and NERC, and the Endemic Livestock Disease initiative with AHDB, BBSRC, Defra, Daera, Scottish Government and Welsh Government.

AHDB’s Head of Environment Dr Jonathan Foot, explains: “AHDB has now led several influential industry groups and time and time again it is clear we need more research in key areas, more knowledge, and more understanding. It is only then we can fully understand what the boundaries are for our industry in its ability to reduce GHG emissions, or its role in carbon storage.

“What is also clear is that research is going to be crucial – on-farm efficiencies will only take us so far, it will be technological advances and innovation that will take us the final step in achieving net zero, and that requires serious investment.”

BBSRC’s Head of Business Engagement & Intelligence, Dr Ruth Nottingham explains: “BBSRC invests to push back the frontiers of biology and deliver a healthy, prosperous, and sustainable future. Farmers and growers in the UK are changing their farming practices. We support the ambitions of the sector for net zero and are pleased to partner with AHDB to fund world-leading research and innovation for farmers and growers.”

Together these investments from AHDB and BBSRC will connect and mobilise the UK’s researchers and innovators around the net zero challenge, accelerating research through to innovation. We seek to support the continued success and progress of the agricultural industry that delivers safe and nutritious food for the UK with higher standards, increased productivity, and enhanced sustainability.

Further information on the requirements to access this research funding is available at https://ahdb.org.uk/research-and-knowledge-exchange-funding-applications.

Guidance from AHDB on protecting and improving the environment is available at AHDB Environment.

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