Agriculture, Health and Environment
The team of researchers in this Group apply their experience and research capabilities to improve animal and human health and promote sustainable agriculture. Much of their work is focused on the developing world but they also undertake projects in mainland Europe and the UK.
Some of their achievements include:
- Generating more than £1 million in research, enterprise and consultancy funding, and 250,000 from teaching each year
- Helping African producers export horticultural produce to European markets.
- Finding green solutions for agricultural problems
The Group is currently developing novel techniques to control raspberry, strawberry and apple pests, in conjunction with East Malling Research. They're also working with the Horticultural Development Council to reduce the impact of flea beetles on leafy salad crops.
Promoting sustainable solutions
In addition to basic molecular and applied research - on topics as diverse as radar for tracking insects, and environmentally friendly rodent control - the Group is actively involved in promoting sustainable, technical solutions to farmer groups. Their work in this area includes community-based armyworm forecasting in East Africa and developing disease resistant tomato varieties in India.
Helping Basmati rice growers
In India, basmati rice is mainly organic so growers cannot use pesticides to protect their crop from the moths that plague the rice fields. The Group came up with a novel solution that involved treating the fields with biodegradable electrostatic powders. The powders protected the crops by sticking to the moths and changing their behaviour.
Apart from improving farmer's incomes, this organic solution also had a positive environmental impact, as it ensured farmers had no need to break their tradition of not using pesticides. All in all a great example of the Group's capacity to foster partnerships in less developed countries but also demonstrate expertise that can be used to support sustainable agriculture in the UK.
As well as conducting research and enterprise projects the group also generates funding through consultancy work. They've been highly successful in this area - securing around £1m a year - and have provided advice on the ethical use of pesticides for organisations such as Crop Life, and on research programmes for the Pesticide Safety Directorate, which is part of the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs.