Lincoln scientists to lead global agricultural research projects

Scientists at the University of Lincoln will lead three pioneering research projects as part of a new wave of government funding aimed at solving some of the world’s greatest agricultural challenges.

New agri-tech projects, which will support innovation in farming and food production, were awarded a share of £16 million in funding through the latest round of the government’s Agri-Tech Catalyst.

The university’s Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT) has secured major research grants worth more than £2 million to deliver three out of the 24 projects funded through this fifth round of awards.

Projects delivered by University of Lincoln researchers will include the development of a robot that accurately eliminates and controls weeds, significantly reducing the use of herbicides in food production.

A second study will examine and document the genome sequence of the food-borne pathogen campylobacter – the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK – with a view to dramatically reducing contamination within the food chain.

The third study will focus on the production of new essential oil crops for thousands of Kenyan smallholders, aiming to develop a new sustainable income source for these farmers.

Professor Andrew Hunter, Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Science at the University of Lincoln, said: “We are very grateful for the support the UK government has shown us with these latest research grant awards.

It is a powerful statement about the quality and relevance of the work we are undertaking here in Lincolnshire, at the very heart of the UK’s agri-food industry.

LIAT brings together the University of Lincoln’s specialisms in agri-tech and agri-food sectors, including food manufacturing, agri-robotics, agronomy and animal science.

Researchers are based across the university’s main Brayford Pool Campus, Riseholme Campus just north of the city, and the National Centre for Food Manufacturing at Holbeach.

Professor Simon Pearson, Director of LIAT, said: “Through the work of LIAT we have already made some significant advances in areas like 3D imaging and automation, and these latest research awards open possibilities for a new wave of innovations across the full spectrum of the food cycle, from farm to fork.”