Repelling the invader: turning the tide on Ascension’s Mexican thorn
Mexican thorn is the most damaging invasive species on Ascension Island. Introduced purposely, this weed has naturalised and spread rapidly, outcompeting native vegetation and negatively impacting wildlife, while encouraging other invasive rodents. This project will take a strategic and integrated approach to controlling thorn on Ascension including a rigorous assessment of further biocontrol and improved chemical and mechanical treatment. The project will ensure local capacity is built to deliver those most appropriate and cost-effective for Ascension. The outcome will be a step-change in our ability to control Mexican thorn and result in a long-term contraction of its range and restoration of habitats.
Farmers’ crops are increasingly at the mercy of climate change, pests and diseases. PlantwisePlus will work to help countries predict, prepare for and prevent potential threats and reduce crop losses. We will provide comprehensive support to countries and farmers so they meet the increasing global demand for quality food in a changing climate.
The UK Crop Microbiome CryoBank
lant microbiomes are the microbial communities essential to the whole ecological area of a plant’s ‘phytobiome’ – a term used to describe a plant’s specific ecological area. Having a healthy phytobiome is critical to crop health, improved crop yields and quality food. However, crop microbiomes are relatively under-researched. The UK Crop Microbiome Cryobank project will develop a unique, exploitable and integrated resource that will provide the biological and bioinformatic tools to enable the development of solutions to improve soil and crop health. Six of the UK’s key crops will be the focus and usable outputs will underpin UK research activity in line with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategic priorities in agriculture and food security. The project will support three of the UN’s Sustainable-Development Goals: Zero Hunger, Responsible Consumption, and Production and Life on Land.
Improving soybean production in Kenya using digital and extension approaches
In Kenya, soybean is a key crop in helping to improve livelihoods and nutrition. However, production only meets 10% of the market needs due to the effects of poor agricultural practices and pests and diseases. To address these issues, this project will provide a frontier system that integrates Earth Observation technology, pest modelling and best-practice approaches in agricultural extension to increase soybean productivity and quality. The project aims to reach 30,000 farmers, of which support will be given particularly to women farmers in helping them to engage with this high-value commodity, access local markets and improve their livelihoods.