Rothamsted Research

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Rothamsted wins Silver at the Chelsea Flower Show

Drs Sam Cook and Jason Baverstock receive RHS Silver Medal

Our display on using flowers to minimise pesticide use and enhance biodiversity wins RHS award

Rothamsted scientists, Dr Sam Cook and Dr Jason Baverstock, have been awarded a Silver Flora Award by the Royal Horticultural society for their display on using flowers to minimise pesticide use and enhance biodiversity, in the Discovery category at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The display designed by Rothamsted’s in-house creative arts director, Nicky Seymour, demonstrates how flowers can be used to manage insects on crops and in gardens to help reduce our reliance on pesticides and promote biodiversity. This exhibit of scientific research shows how flowering plants can regulate insect pest populations. Altering petal colour can reduce pest numbers on plants and certain wild flowers can provide resources for their natural enemies. The exhibit has been inspired by agricultural research led by Dr Sam Cook with Dr Jason Baverstock at Rothamsted. The stand includes examples of oilseed rape with different petal colours, flowering field margins displayed in large planters as well as live insects.

The construction of this exhibit would not have been possible without the assistance of Julian Franklin and his team of Glasshouse experts, as well as Head Gardener Graeme Overfield and his team, not to mention the host of other Rothamsted staff who have supported this project.

The work, supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Biotechnology and the Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), shows how these complimentary techniques can be used within sustainable integrated pest management schemes.

The exhibit draws on the long established research and cutting edge science and innovation at Rothamsted Research. It forms part of the strong core of work being done within the Department of AgroEcology which strives to understand the ecological mechanisms that deliver sustainable crop production. We have expertise in Soil Microbial Ecology, Weed Ecology, Pollination, Insect Migration, Spatial Ecology, Integrated Pest Management and Perennial Biomass Crops.

The new Director of Rothamsted Research, Prof Achim Dobermann  said "This is a fine example for how high-quality, interdisciplinary ecological engineering can contribute to finding new solutions for sustainable agriculture. We need agricultural systems with a higher degree of biodiversity, thus also resulting in greater resilience to many pests."

This science is supported by a unique combination of facilities including the Rothamsted Insect Survey (a National Capability), eight ‘Classical’ experiments that have been continuously running for over 150 years, as well as a 330 ha research farm, unique Vertical Looking and Harmonic Radars and insect behaviour and, state-of-the-art glasshouses and field labs.

Whilst the focus of Rothamsted’s work is agricultural science, its pioneering work has proved equally applicable to horticulturalists and gardeners alike to help manage pests. This project work, funded by Defra, will develop approaches that are potentially transferable from arable to horticulture.


Notes to Editors

Download Petals and Pests Leaflet (1.7mb PDF)

About the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Defra is the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues. Defra’s priorities are to grow the rural economy, improve the environment and safeguard animal and plant health.

Questioning the feasibility of the “4 per 1000” goal to sequester carbon in soil and slow climate change

International group of leading scientists suggest goal is unattainable in many situations, but still good for improving soil quality.

Wood pellets enhance ecosystems and raise renewable energy prospects, says international report

Study marks a controversial stand in a lively, ongoing debate about the sustainability of biomass derived from forests.

The BBSRC invest in Rothamsted Research’s science strategy

BBSRC invests £50.9M in support of excellent agricultural science at Rothamsted Research to address grand challenges faced by farmers and society for the sustainability of food production and the environment.

How to deliver an improved UK agriscience sector outside of the EU

Rothamsted Research and the NFU convened a workshop identifying the key areas of focus in order to have a world leading agriscience sector in the UK after Brexit.


Rothamsted Press Office

For further information, please contact:
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About Rothamsted Research

We are the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for over 170 years. Our mission is to deliver the knowledge and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production.

Our strength lies in the integrated, multidisciplinary approach to research in plant, insect and soil science.
Rothamsted Research is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested £473M in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.