PhD students from AHDB’s £1.4 million programme witnessed the power of applied science and agriculture in action on a recent visit to Scotland.
The visit exposed young researchers to some of the ways the industry is tackling practical issues such as labour challenges and pest management, sharing innovation from research facilities and knowledge from a range of crop systems and end-users in the supply chain.
Six important locations featured, including Scotland’s first vertical indoor farm at the James Hutton Institute. Kettle Produce, managing more than 6,000 hectares of crops in the UK and Europe and one of the leading growers of soft fruit in Scotland, East Seaton Farm. Britain's largest potato breeder, Cygnet PB Ltd, was also on the trip.
However, the group could not visit Scotland without learning about one of its primary exports, whisky, learning from Lindores Abbey Distillery, home to one of Scotland’s earliest known records of whisky distillation.
Potential whisky expert of the future, PhD student Aaron Hoyle, is working on methods to improve barley grain quality and processing efficiency at SRUC/Edinburgh University.
He said: “The visit was like stepping into the future. The science in Scotland has massive economic potential for British farming and agriculture, with the added benefits of energy, water, and nutrient use efficiency; it’s going to be a very exciting time for the industry.
“The trip has motivated me to continue pursuing my passion for the industry and contribute to a revolution in crop science.”
Taking place in different regions of the UK each year, the trip allows students to see the impact scientific innovation has on the industry and inspire them to continue their valued research.
Joe Martin, AHDB Senior Crop Scientist, who manages the studentship programme, said: “Industry depends on innovation by the best and brightest minds advancing crop science and its applications
“This annual event, taking place in different regions of the UK each year, allows students to see the impact scientific innovation has on advancing the industry, and inspire and motivate them to continue their valued research.”
Grower Euan Alexander, Field Operations Manager at Kettle Produce, added: “The visits are a great opportunity for the students to see first-hand how the industry operates, the challenges it faces and opportunities there are for them to make a difference.”
To continue to develop expertise, AHDB has committed £750,000 funding for academic institutions to support up to 10 new PhD studentships. Starting in 2020 these studentships will deliver new experts and science with practical benefits across agriculture and horticulture.