NRI Scientists win funding in Technology Strategy Board competition for New Approaches to Crop Protection
David Hall and his team at NRI are part of a consortium that is among the winners of funding in the recent competition for New Approaches to Crop Protection run by the UK Technology Strategy Board. The consortium is lead by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd. with Eden Research PLC, BerryWorld, Sainsbury's, Tozer Seeds Ltd (Plant Solutions), K&S Fumigation Services Ltd and CPM (Retail) Ltd as industrial partners and East Malling Research as the other science partner. The project was one of only 32 selected for funding from several hundred initial applications and was praised for including partners from the whole chain between scientists, growers, marketing bodies and the consumer.
Outstanding International Strategy Award Winner 2010 — Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards
The Times Higher Leadership and Management Awards 2010 were designed to celebrate the leadership, management, financial and business skills of the Higher Education Sector whilst showcasing innovation, teamwork and commercial expertise of UK higher education institutions. This year, the University of Greenwich was awarded 'Outstanding International Strategy' award, with NRI receiving a specific mention in the submission detailing our 22 researchers working on 19 projects in India, focusing principally on agriculture and sustainable development.
NRI team in major international project to improve the forecasting and control of armyworm in Africa
A recent international scientific meeting in Nairobi "Winning the war against armyworms" on 24-25th May marked the start of a major new DFID-funded Research Into Use initiative to control African armyworm in which NRI staff are playing a key role. The African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta) is a devastating pest of crops in Sub-Saharan Africa. Dense armies of caterpillars, up to 1000 per square metre, of this pest can appear without warning and voraciously attack and consume growing crops of maize, millet, sorghum, wheat, rice and pasture causing disastrous food shortages. In most years, hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops are destroyed mainly in the poorest countries of Sub Saharan Africa where food is already lacking for many people. In severe armyworm outbreak years, farmers and governments can be overwhelmed by the unpredictability and scale of armyworm attacks, and up to 70% of farmers lose crops as they cannot afford pesticides to control the pests.
Research carried out by a team from the Natural Resources Institute has been named as one of the ten most important discoveries to be made in a UK university over the past 60 years. A poll of UK academics released yesterday recognised the Institute's work on controlling tsetse which spreads the fatal disease sleeping sickness in Africa. A team, which included Professors David Hall, Glyn Vale and Steve Torr, invented a novel artificial cow which attracts and kills tsetse. It was voted the eighth most important breakthrough in a list of innovations, theories and technologies pioneered in UK higher education. Read the full press release on the University of Greenwich website.
Few developing countries have managed to overcome the huge cost of successfully eradicating animal borne diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease. Even if they manage to meet the stringent rules for trade in meat products laid down by the World Animal Health Organisation (the OIE), countries can find that there are no buyers for the meat products because meat importers do not accept some kinds of disease controls as credible.
Malaria kills between one and two million people a year. International initiatives such as Roll Back Malaria are committed to halving the burden of malaria through the use of anti-malaria drugs and attacking the mosquitoes that spread the disease. Current efforts against mosquitoes are based largely on the use of insecticide-treated bednets and indoor application of insecticides but there is a pressing need for new strategies which will be applicable in different environments, affordable, and complementary to existing interventions.
Development for the World's Mobile Pastoralists: Understanding, Challenges and Responses — Inaugural Professorial Lecture by Professor John Morton
Pastoralists, often referred to as 'nomads', move with the livestock on which they depend, grazing on communally managed pastures. Some development agencies estimate that there are up to 200 million pastoralists in todays world. Pastoralists are among the world's poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalised people, still vulnerable to misunderstanding and stereotyping.
Fifty years of curiosity driven research on pheromone-based communication was celebrated in a recent invited review paper co-authored by Prof Alan Cork, NRI, and colleagues Prof Peter Witzgall (SLU, Sweden) and Philip Kirsch (APTIV, USA) (Sex pheromones and their impact on pest management, Journal of Chemical Ecology, 36, 80-100). The review acknowledged the achievements of chemical ecologists in identifying hundreds of pheromones and other semiochemicals that are now routinely used to monitor and protect plants and animals against insect pests. They estimated that the annual commercial production of lures for monitoring and mass trapping is in the order of tens of millions which are used to treat at least 10 million ha of crops worldwide, while other insect populations are controlled by air permeation and attract-and-kill techniques on at least 1 million ha.
NRI is part of a new horticultural research initiative set up to strengthen the future of post-harvest research in the UK
The Jim Mount Centre is a collaborative venture between NRI and East Malling Research (EMR). It combines EMR's facilities and expertise on UK horticulture with NRI's expertise on tropical crops. Neil Hipps the Business Development Manager at EMR said that the partnership between EMR and NRI would create the "widest ranging post-harvest research with the best facilities in the country". The NRI offers expertise on vegetables and tropical fruit as well as training, food science and safety, market economics and biochemistry while EMR will bring its storage and field facilities, extensive post-harvest knowledge and fresh produce links to the table. At a top fruit storage day held at EMR Neil Hipps of EMR said there was a greater need now than ever for such a venture with the loss of agrochemicals, increased focus on carbon footprinting, demand for lengthy shelf life and improved eating quality, increased focus on waste and packaging and the ever-growing issue of UK production and food security.
Global embassy representatives and international agricultural experts gathered in London today (1st April 2010) to mark the launch of a new independent journal on 'World Agriculture', www.world-agriculture.net, a peer-reviewed, completely independent, non-profit, journal, which will explore scientific, economic and social evidence concerning agriculture and its interaction with forestry, climate change, population growth, migration, disease and ecology.