Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

New research programme set to explore the secrets of profitable crop rotations

Rothamsted Research is one of four major partners involved in new projects aiming to improve crop rotations economically and environmentally.

Looking beyond the factors affecting crop performance within a season, an ambitious new research programme aims to uncover the features of successful crop rotations. To deliver the programme, Rothamsted Research will work in partnership with NIAB CUF, Lancaster University and the James Hutton Institute, along with 14 other organisations from across the agricultural and horticultural industries. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which commissioned the research, has awarded £1.2m in funding to address challenges in soil and water management across whole rotations.

'UK soils need protecting and restoring'—Prof. Steve McGrath comments on Parliament Soil Health Report

Professor Steve McGrath, Head of Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department at Rothamsted Research responds to the Environmental Audit Committee's new report.

One of the benefits of the UN’s declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils was that the UK Parliament took notice of what is now called “Soil Health”. According to the just-released House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee first report, soil health is multi-faceted, depending on a range of biological, chemical and physical factors.  This is well known to soil scientists and to most of those who work in agriculture.

On the surface: genes identified that give wheat and barley their matte appearance

Researchers find cluster of genes responsible for the matte, bluish-grey colour of cultivated wheat and barley.

In young plants, you can sometimes distinguish cultivated wheat varieties from wild species by their colour. Wild wheat appears either glossy green or a matte bluish-grey, but cultivated varieties are almost always the latter. The bluish-grey colour comes from a waxy film thought to increase yields and protect the plant from environmental stress, particularly drought and diseases. The genes that produce the coating have long eluded researchers, but work by an international team has now revealed them.

The future of livestock farming: using long-term datasets to develop measures of sustainability

New partnership between Rothamsted Research and the INIA in Uruguay will explore ways to manage grasslands and livestock more sustainably.

Researchers from Uruguay this week met with colleagues from Rothamsted Research at the Institute’s sites in North Wyke and Harpenden. The visit marks the start of a new partnership between scientists from Rothamsted Research in the UK and the Instituto Nacional de Investigacion Agropecuaria (INIA) in Uruguay.

Leading institutes to showcase bioscience in your field at Cereals 2016

Visit Stand 702 at Cereals 2016 to discover how cutting edge bioscience research is delivering real benefits for agriculture.

Scientists from Rothamsted Research, the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) and the John Innes Centre (JIC) and will be on hand to showcase the latest in arable farming research. The three research institutes will together display their work to 25,000 arable farmers and agronomists at Stand 702 at the event on the 15th and 16th of June in Chrishall Grange, Cambridgeshire.

Scientists provide native willows for arboretum at Heartwood Forest

Willow breeders at Rothamsted Research source native species from the National Willow Collection to plant at new arboretum.

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have selected nine species of willow, native to Britain, to plant in an arboretum at the nearby Heartwood Forest. Owned by the Woodland Trust, the 350-hectare Heartwood forest includes a ten-hectare arboretum in which local volunteers have planted around 60 native species of trees and shrubs. Identifying species is notoriously hard in willows, and willows sold by plant nurseries are often hybrids rather than pure species, lacking the guarantee of UK origin that the Woodland Trust requires.

Cranfield University and Rothamsted Research establish new partnership

Cranfield University has signed a strategic co-operation agreement with Rothamsted Research, the longest running agricultural research institute in the world.  The agreement builds on the two organisations’ long-standing collaboration over the years and strengthens their working partnership. Under the agreement, Cranfield and Rothamsted will work on several new initiatives to foster science and innovation in key areas of shared expertise, in environment and agrifood.

Good news for biodiversity from the world’s oldest ecological experiment at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden

Rothamsted Research hosts event to celebrate 160th anniversary of the Park Grass Experiment in Harpenden and highlight recent findings.

Running continuously since 1856, Park Grass is the world’s oldest ecological experiment and this year marks its 160th anniversary. To celebrate the anniversary and recent findings from the experiment, Rothamsted Research hosted an event on Tuesday 18th May for the public to discuss the global importance of the Park Grass Experiment and to visit the site.

What makes the varroa parasite of honey bees resistant to chemical treatment?

Mutations discovered that enable parasitic varroa mites from south-east USA to survive previously effective treatment with the pyrethroid tau-fluvalinate.

To control levels of the parasitic mite varroa within hives, many beekeepers use the chemical tau-fluvalinate, marketed as Apistan®, but its effectiveness has been decreasing since the mid­­-1990s.

Scientists have identified two new mutations in varroa collected from Florida and Georgia, USA, that give the parasites resistance to tau-fluvalinate. The discovery of the two mutations enables testing of varroa populations to determine whether the chemical will be effective.

Improving efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser use in China: new UK-China Virtual Centre is launched

The UK-China Virtual Joint Centre for Improved Nitrogen Agronomy begins work, led by scientists at Rothamsted Research and China Agricultural University.

A new partnership between researchers in the UK and China has held its first meeting to find ways of improving nitrogen fertiliser use and reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.

The new Centre for Improved Nitrogen Agronomy (CINAg) is led by Dr Tom Misselbrook at Rothamsted Research and Professor Fusuo Zhang of China Agricultural University. With a range of partners in the UK and China, the virtual joint centre will work to improve sustainability of Chinese agriculture and long-term food security.

Professor Peter Shewry awarded the Clyde H. Bailey Medal

The International Association for Cereal Science and Technology (ICC) announces Professor Shewry as winner of the 2016 award.

Professor Peter Shewry has received the Clyde H. Bailey medal in recognition of his research into the development, structures and composition of the wheat grain. His work at Rothamsted Research focuses on improving wheat quality for human health, particularly on enhancing fibre and phenolic acid content, and performance in milling and bread-making. The medal recognises outstanding achievements in the service of cereal science and technology.

Monitoring reveals changes in biodiversity and the environment over 20 years at North Wyke, Devon

Rothamsted Research publishes a short report that highlights key changes in climate, pollution and biodiversity during the first 20 years of monitoring at its North Wyke site near Okehampton, Devon.

Scientists carrying out long-term monitoring at the North Wyke site of Rothamsted Research have detected trends in the biodiversity and the environment. Lower surface wind speeds, decreased concentrations of pollutants in rainfall and fluctuations in the abundances of butterflies and moths are among the changes recorded. The main findings from the first 20 years of monitoring at North Wyke are described in a short report written by scientists at Rothamsted Research.

Rothamsted Research is granted permission by Defra to carry out field trial with GM Camelina plants

The trial will test whether GM Camelina sativa plants are able to make significant quantities of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) and astaxanthin in the seed of the plant under field conditions.

Rothamsted Research submitted an application on February 1st 2016 to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for permission to carry out a GM field trial on the Rothamsted Farm in 2016 and 2017. The risk assessment was reviewed by the independent Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), and a 48-day public consultation was carried out by Defra. ACRE is satisfied that all scientific issues raised by the public with respect to this application have been addressed.

Rothamsted Research presents 'A day in the life...'

Rothamsted Research launches a video and blog series highlighting the work of early career Research Scientists and PhD students.

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a Research Scientist is like? With Rothamsted’s  'A day in the life of a Research Scientist’ wondered no longer! This regular blog series will give an insight into: who our scientists are; what their career journey has been so far; the type of scientific research they are involved in; why you may find their work of interest to you; their ups and downs; what drives, excites and challenges the

Towards an updated recommended list for willow varieties: a comparative yield trial begins

Rothamsted Research brings together all European willow breeders in an independent trial hosted by Easton & Otley College at their Norfolk campus.

Willows (Salix spp.) are among the fastest growing trees in temperate latitudes and many species are amenable to growth in highly productive short rotation coppice (SRC) cycles. Rothamsted Research, which receives strategic funding from BBSRC, breeds willows a perennial non-food crop, as a source of renewable woody feedstock for bioenergy and the emerging bioeconomy.

Nuffield placement student at the finals of National Science and Engineering Competition

Congratulations to Samia Maroof who is presenting her research project at the finals of the National Science and Engineering Competition.

Samia Maroof, a student from Luton 6th Form College carried out a research project at Rothamsted Research in the summer 2015 as part of the Nuffield Research Placement scheme. Samia’s project has been selected to the finals of the National Science and Engineering competition. The competition is open to all UK students age 11 to 18. Every year, thousands of students enter the competition and projects are selected at the Regional Big Bang Fair events.

Rothamsted Research and Alltech Crop Science announce strategic alliance

Rothamsted Research and Alltech Crop Science’s strategic alliance will allow for leading research opportunities to investigate on-farm applications to improve soil, crop, feed and livestock health.

Rothamsted Research is partnering with Alltech Crop Science, a division of Alltech, for a strategic alliance in the field of agricultural research. One of the oldest agricultural research institutes in the world, Rothamsted Research, which is strategically funded by the BBSRC, has provided cutting-edge science and innovation for more than 170 years.

New agri-genomics tools, developed at Rothamsted Research, to be made available on Genestack platform

Genestack, in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, to make new tools for agri-genomics available on its platform.

Genestack, the developer of a next generation enterprise platform for genomics research and development, in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, is to make new tools for agri-genomics available on its platform. By using the tools, which are being developed at Rothamsted Research, researchers will be able to apply high-throughput bioinformatics technologies in order to accelerate the crop breeding and crop improvement research.

New Strategic Research Positions Open at Rothamsted Research

Whilst the formal application process has now closed and we are in the process of shortlisting we continue to welcome interests for suitably qualified applicants. Those applicants are invited to contact the appropriate recruitment lead directly who if appropriate will advise on the application procedures from here.

Can conservation agriculture combat climate change in tropical regions?

An analysis of 76 studies in two distinct tropical regions of the world shows that conservation agriculture leads to only marginal increases in soil carbon stocks.

Conservation agriculture (often termed CA) is often claimed to lock up (“sequester”) carbon in soil and thus contribute to the “mitigation” of climate change.

Indo-UK Centre for the improvement of Nitrogen use Efficiency in Wheat (INEW)

A new Virtual Joint Centre brings together major UK and Indian researchers with programmes on wheat improvement to determine the genetic control of nitrogen use efficiency in wheat.

The Indo-UK Centre for the improvement of Nitrogen use Efficiency in Wheat (INEW) was launched today at the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (ICAR-IIWBR, Karnal, Haryana, India). The centre will generate new types of wheat with improved use of nitrogen, which can be used in breeding programmes in both countries, carrying out a joint research programme, developing shared technologies and facilities and providing training opportunities for early career scientists.

Huge carbon stores discovered under UK grasslands

A nationwide survey by ecologists has revealed that over 2 billion US tons of carbon is stored deep under the UK’s grasslands, helping to curb climate change.

Published in the leading journal Global Change Biology, the study shows that decades of intensive grassland farming across the UK, involving high rates of fertilizer use and livestock grazing, have caused valuable soil carbon stocks to decline.

The team found that the largest soil carbon stocks to depth were beneath grasslands that have been farmed at intermediate levels of intensivity, receiving less fertilizer and with fewer grazing animals.

Professor John Lucas made an Honorary Member of the British Society for Plant Pathology

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to plant pathology, Professor John Lucas has recently been made an Honorary Member of the British Society for Plant Pathology.

John Lucas, formerly Head of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Rothamsted Research, has recently been made an Honorary Member of the British Society for Plant Pathology (1), an award “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to plant pathology”. John spent the first half of his career in the university sector, and moved to Long Ashton Research Station, Bristol in 1994 to work in a more strategic research Institute environment. He transferred to Rothamsted Research in 2000.

Rothamsted Research submits application to Defra for permission to carry out field trial with GM Camelina plants

The trial will test whether GM Camelina sativa plants are able to make significant quantities of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) and astaxanthin in the seed of the plant under field conditions. A public consultation has begun.

Rothamsted Research has submitted an application to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for permission to carry out a GM field trial on the Rothamsted Farm in 2016 and 2017. Scientists at Rothamsted Research, who receive strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), have previously trialed in the field Camelina plants that accumulate omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) in their seeds.

A study of the genetic code of bed bugs reveals that these human blood feeders are adaptive and hardy

An international study, involving Rothamsted Research, allows scientists, for the first time, to read the genetic make up of bed bugs, and begin to understand genes linked to the insect’s adaptive biology and behavior.

Much like how our eyes scan a sequence of letters to read and understand a sentence of English, scientists have, for the first time, sequenced and annotated the genetic code of the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius). This has allowed them to read the bed bug genetic makeup and make big steps in understanding the genes which are linked to evolutionary adaptations in the insect’s biology and behaviour. The research, which was carried out by a group of over 80 scientists based across the world, is today [2nd February] published in Nature Communications.