Tag: agriculture

  • Small surprises and farmers in Oxford

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    The start of a year is often a time for reflection on the previous 12 months and a look forward to the year ahead.

    Shortly before the Christmas break a request came through at short notice inviting me to meet with the Minister for Science and senior colleagues from the Ugandan government. The first surprise was that diaries worked. I was not sure what to expect as while we support some projects with links to Uganda, especially in the areas of animal and plant disease, they have not traditionally been a partner. And here was the second surprise – the 5-strong delegation were keen to learn more about UKRI, more about BBSRC and particularly our interests in the bioeconomy, which, with a different focus, they see as a major opportunity for development in Uganda. They were also very interested to understand how we fund research and innovation, as they are in the early stages of establishing their new Ministry. I very much enjoyed the discussions and at the end of the meeting had a huge sense of fulfilment; if I had in any way helped shape their thinking it was a meeting well worth the time and a satisfying, if surprising, way to round off a busy year. […]

  • Envisioning Harvest 2050 and Beyond

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham
    Scientist working in the field
    Copyright: Rothamsted Research

    On Friday 22 September 2017 the UK officially bid farewell to summer and welcomed in the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ – epitomised by Keats in his poem ‘Ode to Autumn’. The arrival of the new season is signalled by changes in the environment around us – chlorophyll breaking down to reveal the gold and red hues we associate with autumn. And so, with thoughts of harvest in the air, the recent completion of the Hands Free Hectare caught my attention.  This project, a collaboration between Harper Adams University and Precision Decisions, is the first ever in the world to plant, tend and harvest a crop via autonomous vehicles and drones. It provides a glimpse of how innovative technology can transform current approaches to agriculture, including harvesting, and stimulates thoughts on what our food production systems might look like in 2050. […]

  • Plant science, oenomics and H2020 funding

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    BBSRC’s investments are key to supporting plant science research in the UK. Our plant scientists lead the world in understanding the fundamentals of plant biology – knowledge that is now being applied to key agricultural crops across the globe. Despite the importance of plant science, it tends to lack prominence in many A-level biology and UK university courses and I recall being one of only 12 students (out of ~100) who studied plant biochemistry when I was an undergraduate. Initiatives that raise the profile of, and opportunities in, plant science to undergraduate students are, therefore, very welcome and, in relation to this, I was delighted to be the closing plenary speaker at the recent Gatsby Plant Science Summer School. […]