A passion for sustainable supply chains and the desire to do something useful, brought Becky Swinn to Lancaster University.
Now her research project comparing the carbon footprint of British, Dutch and Kenyan cut flowers has won the prize for the Best Collaborative Project at the Lancaster Environment Centre. But, like many others, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she finished her first degree. After spending two years doing a series of jobs she got asked to work on a project encouraging people to reduce the amount of food they throw away.
Three years ago, biotechnologists demonstrated in field trials that they could increase the productivity of maize by introducing a rice gene into the plant that regulated the accumulation of sucrose in kernels and led to more kernels per maize plant.
They knew that the rice gene affected the performance of a natural chemical in maize, trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P), which influences the distribution of sucrose in the plant. But they were keen to discover more intimate details of the relationships governing the increased productivity.
Millions of dollars are due to be paid out to small-scale farmers in Zambia affected by a recent severe dry spell, following the introduction of a new government insurance scheme powered by University of Reading science.
Satellite-based rainfall estimates for Africa produced by the University’s TAMSAT research group have allowed around US$2.8m to be triggered for farmers in 370 locations in Zambia between December 1 2017 and 20 January 2018.
China’s North Plain is one of the country’s most important – and densely populated – agricultural regions, producing crops such as corn, cereals, vegetables and cotton. A research project led by the James Hutton Institute and China Agriculture University aims to support smallholder farmers in the area through precision agriculture techniques.