AFCP Student Forum 2017:

From soils to sheep: charities working together to support new research 

The 12 PhD students showcasing their research at this year’s AFCP Student Forum hosted by the University of Hertfordshire epitomise the crucial role that their science plays in building a competitive and world-leading UK food and farming sector, said AFCP patron Lord Curry of Kirkhale: “Research and new science is essential to deliver the increases in productivity necessary for this industry to be world competitive.”

He praised the work that the PhD students had done across a range of important challenges facing farmers today; from tackling ticks, nematodes and oilseed rape diseases to cobalt deficiency in sheep, soil filter socks to reduce erosion, cultivation techniques and finely targeted herbicide usage. Posters from students in their first or second year of research, or completing Masters degrees, were displayed alongside the 12 oral presentations from students who were in their final year, or had recently completed, their PhD research projects, showcasing the pipeline of exciting science coming through.

Most of the research projects are being funded by AFCP members including the Perry Foundation, Douglas Bomford Trust, Chadacre Trust, Felix Cobbold Trust and NFU Mutual Charitable Trust.  Funding from the charities, alongside the AHDB, BBSRC and Environment Agency and others enables this vital science to take place at Universities across the country.

Showcasing the important role that AFCP members play in conducting research to answer the most pressing challenges facing farmers today is crucial.

If you, or your charity, are supporting research projects please let the AFCP know by completing this short survey or email [email protected]. A more detailed insight on where charities invest gives AFCP an opportunity to work more collaboratively, deliver greater impacts and raise the profile of the great work that this sector does for the industry.


Student Annual Forum presentations at the University of Hertfordshire

  • Lauren Perrin – understanding tick-borne infections in the uplands
  • Alexandra Cooke– compost filter socks to control sediment and phosphorous losses
  • Shona Strachen – pyramiding nematode resistance to produce potatoes with durable and broad-spectrum resistance
  • Nikos Koukiasis – highly targeted droplet weed control using an autonomous robot for field vegetables
  • Amey Brassington – cobalt deficiency in sheep
  • Georgia Mitrousia – understanding the durability of stem canker resistance
  • Karen Rial-Lovera – soil cultivation influences on wheat performance in a changing climate
  • Joanne Atkinson – mapping and targeting acaracide resistance in the poultry red mite
  • Iain Dummett – can strip tillage improve oilseed rape profitability and reduce agrochemical run-off and leachate
  • Dorota Dobrzanza – stabilising anaerobic digestors using bio-adhesive and bio-inert surfaces
  • Coretta Kloppel – understanding light leaf spot to improve its control 
  • Harika Gajula – understanding phoma stem canker gene resistance