International scientific alliance launched for crop improvement in sub-Saharan Africa

© John Innes CentreAn international scientific alliance to fast track-crop improvement in sub-Saharan Africa is launched today.

The Alliance to Accelerate Crop Improvements in Africa (ACACIA) supports African scientists to find solutions to local food security challenges – and maximise the impact of the John Innes Centre’s cutting-edge science in Africa.

New AHDB-funded project – SCEPTREplus

Warwick University‘s School of Life Sciences is a partner in a new £1.4M 4-year project ‘SCEPTREplus’ funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). The aim of the project is to deliver applied research on high priority disease, pest and weed problems in fresh produce and ornamental crops in order to support approval of products and devise and develop IPM programmes. The project consortium is chaired by Ed Moorhouse (Agri-Food Solutions Director) and includes RSK ADAS, NIAB EMR and Stockbridge Technology Centre.

‘Plant teams’ may help feed a rising population, researchers say

A new research initiative led by Scotland’s James Hutton Institute is set to explore innovative mixed-species crop systems, or ‘plant teams’, in a drive to tackle a global challenge: how to feed a growing population from finite resources without wrecking our planet. The €5m DIVERSify project, short for ‘Designing InnoVative plant teams for Ecosystem Resilience and agricultural Sustainability’, aims to optimise the performance of cereals grown with legumes.

TRUE food security explored from a legume-based perspective

© James Hutton InstituteLegumes are a very special type of crop; they are not only a source of highly nutritious food and feed but legumes require no inorganic nitrogen fertiliser, which means they have major advantages as a more sustainable crop. Despite their benefits, legume-based farming systems have not become common practice as they are seen as being less profitable.

This may soon change however, owing to a new research initiative led by scientists at the James Hutton Institute, working with colleagues from European organisations. The “TRansition paths to sUstainable legume-based systems in Europe” (TRUE) research project aims to identify how society may transition to sustainable legume-based farming systems and agricultural feed and food networks. 

Waitrose boosts FareShare partnership with funds and volunteers in a supermarket first

As Waitrose extends its successful FareShare trial to 25 branches in total this month, it has today announced it will make funds and Partner (employee) volunteers available to local groups using the IT platform to collect surplus food from the retailer.

In a supermarket first, as part of the tie up, groups which collect surplus food will be offered funds from the Waitrose Community Matters (green tokens) scheme which donates money to local good causes, as well as volunteers from its shops.

“Exciting biology” rewrites text books in uncovering plants’ high-fat diet for fungal benefactors

One of biology’s most charismatic relationships, credited with helping plants to colonise land more than 400 million years ago, has yielded a fundamental survival secret with implications for agriculture and biotechnology.

Plant scientists have discovered that a particular form of fungi, which invades plant roots and then helps the colonised plants to absorb nutrients from soil, receive life-sustaining carbon from their symbiotic hosts in the form of long-chain fatty acids, a building block for essential lipids.