Finding the fun in sustainability

The highest daily rainfall in 50 years didn’t stop members of the Lancaster Environment Centre’s new Sustainability Group putting their principles into practice

The launch of the Group, which aims to support staff and students at the Lancaster Environment Centre to put sustainability into action, started indoors with presentations about the environmental and social impact of American cannabis, Arctic oil and UK pensions. Some of the hardier attendees then went outdoors to the Lancaster University Ecohub to help Green Lancaster with their growing projects. This involved pruning raspberry canes in torrential rain, during a period which the University’s Hazelrigg Weather Station measured as the wettest 24 hours in more than 50 years.

Clean sweep for agriculture

The Field Scanalyzer’s digital array of cameras, laser scanners and sensors provide continuous data on performances of experimental crops

Agricultural research and development features prominently under “Clean Growth”, one of the four Grand Challenges of the government’s new “Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future”, announced today.

“We will put the UK at the forefront of the global move to high-efficiency agriculture,” says the 255-page white paper. “Over the coming years, we will increase the incentives for investment in sustainable agriculture, helping to grow the markets for innovative technologies and techniques.”

Welcome to Waitrose CTP Cohort 1

Waitrose CTP welcomed its first cohort of students at the end of October for a 3 day Induction Training Event. This was held at the scenic venue of Forrest Hills at Lancaster University.

All students attended the event and some students had the company of their academic supervisors.

Filling the intercropping info gap

Two crops or one? Sometimes, growing two crops simultaneously on the same piece of land – called intercropping – can benefit farmers. But it needs careful planning and resource management.

In some parts of Africa, farmers intercrop sorghum – a grain – and peanuts. But they face a major information gap. There hasn’t been much research on optimal levels of fertilizer use for intercropping sorghum and peanuts in these areas.

A new study has filled this information gap. Researchers from Niger, Mali, and the United States have developed a method to help farmers determine how much fertiliser to apply when intercropping.

NIAB EMR expands fruit quality and development research programme

Dr Andy Simkin

UK horticultural crop research organisation NIAB EMR has appointed Dr Andrew Simkin to lead its emerging fruit quality and development research programme.

Dr Simkin will be expanding NIAB EMR’s capabilities in fruit quality research in perennial and annual horticultural crops, tackling the challenge of improving the flavour and health benefits associated with fruit consumption. He will be joining NIAB EMR’s increasingly successful Genetics, Genomics and Breeding (GGB) Team, responsible for Malling Centenary, one of the most sought after strawberry varieties currently in the marketplace, as well as world-leading perennial genomics expertise, such as the BBSRC and industry-funded international consortium sequencing the octoploid strawberry.

The global nitrate time-bomb

Researchers have quantified for the first time the long term threat to global drinking water posed by agricultural pollution trapped in the rocks beneath our feet.

In a paper published in Nature Communications, researchers from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Lancaster University show that vast quantities of nitrate are stored in the rocky layer between our soils and the water table. Using modelling techniques they estimate that rocks contain up to 180 million tonnes of nitrate, twice the amount believed to be stored in soil.