Data from amateur naturalists can improve quality of predicted disease distributions

A new study concludes that members of the public can accurately report disease outbreaks affecting our native trees and that by combining their findings with official survey effort better quality predictions of disease distributions can be made.

Blueberry growers advised to remain alert about recently detected pest

© James Hutton InstituteThe blueberry aphid, Ericaphis scammelli, has been detected during routine aphid surveys by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and is thought to be widespread across Scotland. It is also known to occur in other parts of the United Kingdom and Europe.

The pest can be found more on some cultivars than others with highest infestation levels between May and July.

Plants use calcium to convey internal warning of attacking aphids

Scientists at the John Innes Centre have discovered how plants send internal warning signals in response to attack by aphids.

They found that when the insect feeds on a leaf it triggers the plant to admit calcium into the damaged cells. This small flux of calcium prompts the plant to signal that an attack is underway, and a larger amount of calcium is then mobilised from within the cell.

Major funding for new crop sciences research centre at NIAB in Cambridge

© University of Cambridge

Professor Sir David Baulcombe

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has announced funding for the creation of a new Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS), developed by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with NIAB.
The new centre will provide a major boost to the University and NIAB’s existing research initiatives around global food security.

Waitrose strengthens Fairtrade commitment by extending scheme to 100% of its tea

© WaitroseWaitrose has today announced it will be extending its commitment to Fairtrade produce by making 100% of its own-label tea Fairtrade certified by October 2017.

This will mean all 46 Waitrose tea products will be Fairtrade, which clearly symbolises to customers that the tea farmers are benefiting from good working conditions, a fair deal and funds to spend on their local community. Farmers can choose how to spend the Fairtrade Premium generated – whether on developing their business or on community  projects such as schools, health clinics or leisure facilities.

New training body to support £20 bn UK food industry

A new industry-level food training body launched today will tackle key questions facing the future of farming and the food business.

The AgriFood Training Partnership will combine the complimentary skills and knowledge of six university partners who are internationally recognised leaders in agrifood research and training. The partnership will offer more than 150 courses and workshops in all areas of agricultural production, environmental protection, food manufacture, scientific research and development and associated business and transferable skills.