At the heart of our research lies the need to feed a growing world population in a more sustainable manner and, in the process, make British farming both more sustainable and successful. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations define a long-term vision and strategy that we support; the goals seek transformative changes in the way food is produced, processed and consumed. Taking this global view, Rothamsted’s science will focus on the sustainable intensification of arable and grazing-livestock systems in the UK and worldwide. Building on our unique ability to work across different scales and disciplines, we aim to do the following:
- deliver know-how, data, better practices and new technologies to improve performance, resilience and value;
- raise the productivity of crop and livestock systems;
- tackle weed, disease and insect resistance to agrochemicals and improve soil health;
- enhance natural capital and reduce agriculture’s carbon and nutrient footprint;
- add novel nutritional, health and bioeconomical value to crops and other products.
SIX GRAND CHALLENGES FOR AGRICULTURE
We have identified six Grand Challenges for agriculture, which we address through three major Science Portfolios: Superior Crops, Securing Productivity, and Future Agri-Food Systems.
Accelerate improvements in yield, quality and the efficiency of using resources for wheat and other cereal crops.
Discover or design novel traits that improve the nutritional or industrial value of plants.
Monitor and forecast the spread of pests, weeds and diseases in real time.
Combine genetic, chemical, ecological and agronomic strategies for smart crop protection.
Implementing the strategy
These three portfolios cover our five Institute Strategic Programmes (ISPs) for the next five years to 2022:
- Designing Future Wheat
- Tailoring Plant Metabolism
- Smart Crop Protection
- Soil to Nutrition
- Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Special initiatives, or Flagship Projects, will complement these strategic programmes, enabling us to focus on exciting opportunities that arise as the work progresses:
We implement our science strategy by fostering an interdisciplinary culture. Four central departments supported by a highly skilled operations team provide the physical home for our scientists and support staff as well as for our National Capabilities, laboratories and other facilities. Our work is supported by strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and by grants from many other sources, including industry.