Gove announces £5.3m fund to improve UK crop resilience

The new funding aims to develop scientific breakthroughs in UK crop research and innovation
The new funding aims to develop scientific breakthroughs in UK crop research and innovation

Multi-million pound funding has been announced by the government to develop scientific breakthroughs in UK crop research and innovation.

The funding aims to improve the resilience, sustainability and quality of major crops.

Universities and research centres will benefit from a funding package worth around £5.3 million over five years, Defra Secretary Michael Gove has announced.

The funding will go to four leading agricultural research centres to help develop new technologies and environmentally friendly production for farmers and growers.

They will focus on boosting productivity for pulses, wheat, leafy vegetables and oilseed rape as part of Defra’s Crop Genetic Improvement Networks (GINs).

The GINs were set up to facilitate the transfer of useful genetic variation from collections of plant genetic resources into new varieties.

Mr Gove said developing new technology is "crucial" to making sure British farmers can continue to grow "world-class produce in an environmentally friendly way".

"Through this new fund, I hope to see the creation of new and innovative growing practices and crop protections so we can truly unlock the potential of our food and farming industries," Mr Gove added.

Crop resistance

Since their creation in 2003, GINs have increased crop resistance to pests and diseases, such as orange blossom midge and turnip mosaic virus.

They have also enhanced pea crops, which are now being used to produce high-quality animal feed.

The four recipients that will undertake the research are the John Innes Centre, Rothamsted Research, University of Warwick and University of York.

Professor Ian Bancroft, who leads the agricultural research centre at the University of York, said: "We aim to support industry in long-term, sustainable rapeseed production by utilising UK expertise in plant genetics to better understand specific crop traits.

"Innovation through these networks is essential if we are to see growth in healthy crop production," Prof Bancroft added.

The government has so far invested £160 million through the Agri-Tech Strategy to harness the latest agricultural research and technologies.