UK fruit consortium to deliver next generation of crop scientists

An industry consortium, led by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd and NIAB EMR, has won a BBSRC collaborative training partnership (CTP) award to provide a £1.9 million postgraduate programme for scientific research on fruit crops.


NIAB EMR, the internationally recognised perennial crop research institute, will partner with the Universities of Cambridge, Nottingham and Reading to provide research expertise and facilities to deliver a unique postgraduate training environment.


Running from October 2017 to September 2023 and based at NIAB EMR in Kent, the programme includes 16 four-year PhD studentships in core research areas such as plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, soil science, plant physiology and crop agronomy. This next generation of crop researchers will be supported in developing and integrating their research in line with the commercial objectives of leading agri-businesses, delivering science into practice.


Dr Nicola Harrison, NIAB EMR CTP science co-ordinator said: “The CTP award will help us produce an innovative and exceptional postgraduate research training programme that will engage and train the next generation of scientists to deliver strategic research that will help secure the future of UK horticulture. Researchers from Cambridge, Nottingham and Reading, and colleagues at NIAB EMR, will produce a research portfolio that ensures the translation of cutting-edge research through to the wider industry.”


The industry partners forming the consortium span the supply chain, from primary production and marketing, with Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, Worldwide Fruit Ltd, M&W Mack Ltd, Univeg UK Ltd, and the National Association of Cider Makers, through to retail with Marks & Spencer plc. The over-arching knowledge exchange capability is provided by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.


BGG’s Richard Harnden, strategic lead for the CTP programme for fruit crop research said, “This pioneering partnership between businesses, research providers and AHDB will provide a world-class horticultural and bioscience UK research training programme to address the scientific challenges faced by agri-businesses, from crop production, food quality and supply, through to consumer preference and reducing waste in the supply chain.”




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Based at East Malling in Kent, NIAB EMR is an internationally renowned plant science organisation conducting research on horticultural crops and their interactions with the environment, with particular emphasis on perennial and clonally propagated fruit crops. NIAB EMR became part of The NIAB Group in January 2016.

NIAB is the UK’s fastest growing crop science organisation, with rapidly expanding research capabilities in plant genetics, agronomy, farming systems and data science, the largest national field trials capability, and strong research links with industry, Government and academia. Employing more than 300 people across the UK, NIAB provides scientific research, technical services and practical advice to improve the yield, efficiency and resilience of crop production across the arable, forage and horticulture sectors.








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