Today’s research is tomorrow’s crop protection

CHAP’s Scientific Support Coordinator, Dr Alex McCormack, shared how the research of today can inspire the crop protection of tomorrow, during a webinar for up and coming agriculturalists.

Dr McCormack joined three other presenters during the online session, which was part of the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) Scholars’ Programme, sponsored by McDonald’s UK.

Scholars are young professionals in the early stages of their career, and the programme aims to provide them with peer-to-peer networking and access to key skills development training.

Dr McCormack said: “It’s important to champion how science and agriculture really do work hand-in-hand, to help drive a sustainable future for crop production and the global food chain.

“An example being one of our projects, which is working to develop a novel biofungicide to control Septoria in wheat, collaborating with biotechnology company Bactobio.

“Through this work, we hope to identify up to 10 active natural compounds with control activity for Septoria leaf blotch. Such research increases the options for disease control, reducing the likelihood of future resistance, while of course offering lower environmental impact and safeguarding the wheat crops of the future.

“Being able to discuss projects such as this with the OFC scholars was an excellent opportunity to illustrate how research can have a meaningful impact on on-farm practices.”

Dr McCormack also discussed two other CHAP projects, one that is working to develop a biopesticide to control cabbage stem flea beetle in oilseed rape, and another, known as ‘SprayBot’, that aims to devise a precision fungicide application method.

He concluded with his thoughts on the future of crop production and how integrating sensors and data with modelling and risk detection will help to enhance arable farming systems.

Also presenting at the webinar were representatives from the three other UK Agri-Tech Innovation Centres: Eliot Dixon, Head of Data and Automation at Agri-EPI, Phil Bicknell, Head of Business Development at CIEL, and Rebecca Geraghty, Chief Commercial Officer for Agrimetrics .

Chairing the webinar was Dr Jenna Ross, an OFC Director who is also CHAP’s International Business Development Manager. Dr Ross said: “Together, the centres have been involved with more than 400 innovative projects worth around £85 million to the agri-food sector, delivering a major programme of collaborative opportunities.

“Showcasing these positive stories through a webinar for the OFC scholars, is an excellent way to demonstrate the potential of agriculture’s innovation landscape to those who’ll be driving it – the next generation.”

For more information about the programme, visit OFC Scholars. See also Industry Report.


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