BBC Gardeners' World Magazine features Crop Centre PhD student Andy Gladman
As part of a monthly series featuring the eight finalists in the 2020 BBC Gardeners World Magazine Gardens of the Year competition, Andy Gladman, a Crop Centre PhD student and his Leamington Spa ornamental allotment are the subject of March's edition.
The six page article plots his journey,' driven from a lifelong passion for plants', especially kniphofia, echinops, verbena and buddleas and the set back of living in a top floor north facing flat, in transforming an overgrown allotment plot in 2018 from 'a field of couch grass and bindweed' to an 'astonishingly vibrant and drought tolerant garden'. With his interest in plant diversity there are 'around 100 cultivars of kniphofia (red hot poker') that he has been trying to accumulate and is planning on applying for a National Collection status for these and his echinops (globe thistle).
Working on a tight budget and with using materials that otherwise would go to waste as a very important aspect to him,' seed sowing and recycling have been key'. 'The entire path is made up of pavers from a fellow allotmenteer's old driveway' and both greenhouses, furniture in the summer house and one of the greenhouses and water trough are either secondhand or from charity shops.
Many of the plants are a haven for insects and the bees are everywhere. He noted a lot of butterfly diversity when taking part in the Big Butterfly Count 2020 and believes the allotment holders are pleased with the amount of pollinators his garden attracts to the allotments.
More information - Gardeners' World Magazine, March 2021, pages 72-77.
Andy Gladman is a PhD student with Dr Dave Chandler.
University of Warwick signs agreement with agronomy specialist to bring UK beans to market
The University of Warwick’s research commercialisation wing, Warwick Innovations, has signed a contract with agronomy specialist Agrii to promote the commercial production of UK haricot beans developed by Professor Eric Holub from Warwick’s Crop Centre, part of the School of Life Sciences. Professor Holub has bred three haricot bean varieties which are adapted for growing in the UK climate and are more suited to standard farm machinery.
“Self-sufficiency in food production is important for reducing human impact on global climate. British-grown beans can help us shift our diets to a healthier future, adding to other UK ingredients to supply the growing trend of flexitarian diets with new markets like Brit-Mediterranean and Brex-Mexican style food.” Professor Holub.
Press Release (9 February 2021)
UK Vegetable Genebank celebrates 40 year anniversary today
UK Vegetable Genebank 40th Anniversary event 5-9 October
On 8 October 1980, the UK Vegetable Genebank was officially opened on what is now the Wellesbourne Campus of the University. Since then, a collection of ~14,000 seed samples has been amassed, becoming a hugely important resource for plant breeding and research. We send seed out on request to plant scientists, breeders and even farmers both in the UK and around the world. Changes in the environment, and increase in the number of people on the planet and a need to reduce irrigation, pesticide and fertilizer inputs in farming mean that plant breeders and researchers need develop new varieties constantly so that vegetables can continue to provide vital nutrition in our diets.
Forty Years of Seeds for the Future
To celebrate our anniversary, we are holding an online event from 5-9 October. Take a virtual tour of the genebank and register for our public webinar to hear about genebank collections from a plant breeding, research and international perspective. We’ll also be featuring research by groups within SLS, showing the diverse ways in which our seed is being used and how innovation and technology is opening up new approaches. See you there!
Lockdown staff and students at University of Warwick to help with wildlife surveys
Members of the Warwick community who are living on campus during lockdown have the opportunity to help survey wildlife for a biodiversity project.
The Joy of Seeds
'Seeds are little bundles of future potential'. Find out about the wonders of seeds from Dr Charlotte Allender.
Read the Knowledge Centre article.
Arctic's Global Seed Vault to receive 1000 types of seeds from Warwick's Vegetable Genebank
Just under 1000 seed samples from different crop species including kale, carrots and cauliflower are to be deposited at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Arctic Norway on Tuesday 25 February 2020, from the UK Vegetable Genebank (UKVGB) at the University of Warwick Wellesbourne campus.
Seventy years of crop research at Warwick’s Wellesbourne campus celebrated at industry event
The Vegetables of Christmas Future
If you think about a traditional Christmas dinner, there’s turkey with pigs in blankets, or maybe you prefer a nut roast. But the rest is vegetables. A large proportion of our plate should be covered in vegetables, and the standard winter varieties, like carrots and sprouts, are grown very successfully in the UK.
But will this always be the case? Climate change is bringing with it new challenges as well as making known pests and diseases more difficult to tackle. Scientists at Warwick's Crop Centre, are working to understand the pests and diseases of the some of the UK’s major crops and developing, using traditional plant breeding and genetic expertise, new resistant varieties.
Seed collection conserves genetic diversity of vegetables
Listen to Dr Charlotte Allender discuss the need to conserve the genetic diversity of vegetables, and how this is being done at the University of Warwick's seed bank facility.
Radio discussion (28 Sept 2019)
The Warwick Genetic Resources Unit houses the UK Vegetable Genebank, a globally significant collection of around 14,000 seed samples of a range of vegetable crops.
New awards target breakthrough technologies to enhance food security
A recent collaboration between the BBSRC, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is helping researchers potentially advance technology that brings more security to crop agriculture of the future. Dr Stephen Jackson and Dr Jose Gutierrez-Marcos are amongst those receiving funding.
Phenom UK 2019
On Monday 22 July, researchers from the University of Sheffield, Rothamsted Research and the University of Nottingham attended a networking event at the University of Warwick Wellesbourne campus. The event was organised by Dr Beatriz Lagunas and sponsored by Phenom UK (‘Technology Touching Life programme funded jointly by BBSRC/EPSRC/MRC). In the morning, visitors enjoyed a guided tour around the field research facility including the pathogen quarantine fields, insect pest trial area, the low nutrient field, and the main rotation fields for irrigated trials. In the afternoon, a round table discussion focused on the challenges of field-based phenotyping.
The breadth of expertise amongst participants allowed discussion of ideas for relating aerial spectral imaging of the crop canopy with below-ground differences in soil nutrient/root/microbe interactions. The consensus was that pilot data is needed in a specific crop from small-scale controlled experiments to identify disease signature wavelengths and then move to field phenotyping based, for example using drone-based imaging in collaboration with both the University of Sheffield and Rothamsted Research. The PhenomUK website will provide a useful forum for further discussions. All Warwick people interested in following up the discussions are encouraged to do it through the Plant & Crop Science Theme and to register at the Phenom UK website.
Phenom UK networking visit attendants standing in a field of haricot beans (from left to right):
Craig Sturrock (U. of Nottingham), Patrick Schäfer (U. of Warwick), Rob Lillywhite (U. of Warwick), Stephen A. Rolfe (U. of Sheffield), Graham Teakle (U. of Warwick), Gabriel Castrillo (U. of Nottingham), John Clarkson (U. of Warwick), Beatriz Lagunas (U. of Warwick), Guilhem Reyt (U. of Nottingham), Sally Mann (U. of Warwick), Malcolm Hawkesford (Rothamsted Research), Alexander McCormack (U. of Warwick), Tim Mauchline (Rothamsted Research), Rosemary Collier (U. of Warwick), Joost H.M. Stassen (U. of Sheffield), Rory Hayden (U. of Nottingham) and Eric Holub (U. of Warwick).
Work is underway on an innovative new greenhouse research facility at the University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne Campus. The project is a partnership between Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), one of the four UK Agritech Centres funded by Innovate UK, the innovator and developer, RIPE Building Services, and the University of Warwick, which will coordinate research through its School of Life Sciences.
It is the first major construction at Wellesbourne Campus since Warwick acquired the site in 2004. The new greenhouse will also be built in the year the site celebrates 70 years as a national centre of excellence for crop research.
The new structure, named the Natural Light Growing (NLG) Centre, is being built by RIPE using patented materials and construction technology and will allow the full spectrum of natural light through into the protective growing environment. This is expected to increase crop yield and speed of growth as well as improve qualities like taste, plant health and vigour. The beneficial effects of the full spectrum growing conditions on crop plants are not yet fully understood and the greenhouse will act as a demonstration facility and experimental hub to study several crop characteristics.
Professor Richard Napier, Director of Research at the University’s School of Life Sciences, said: “We are delighted that Wellesbourne Campus has been chosen as the location for such an innovative facility.
“Our academic crop researchers are looking forward to trialling this next generation growing environment to extend our research into crop improvement, the results of which will benefit farmers and growers and ultimately consumers.”
The new structure will be completed this month and officially opened in summer 2019.
Arctic's Global Seed Vault to receive 101 samples from Warwick's Vegetable Genebank
101 seed samples from 18 different types of crop species including onions, carrots and cauliflower are to be deposited at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Arctic Norway on the 31 October 2018, from the UK Vegetable Genebank (UKVGB) at the University of Warwick.
On Monday 18 December, Dr Guy Barker spoke on BBC Midlands Today on how Warwick Crop Centre are improving sprouts through traditional plant breeding. Watch www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09jg8fl/midlands-today-evening-news-18122017 (from 23 minutes)
Dr Barker also spoke with Phil Upton on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, describing how researchers are utilising genetic diversity from the UK Vegetable Genebank to enhance the appearance, quality and resistance of sprouts. Listen at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05nlj64 (1:41-1:45)
SLS Researchers on Television
Two of our researchers recently featured on television programmes showcasing their expertise:
On 12 June, Virologist Professor Andrew Easton appeared on Channel 4’s ‘How to Stay Well’ programme, ‘Sneezes, Mobiles & Lyme Disease’, investigating how far a sneeze travels.
On 19 June, Experiment Manager Andy Jukes, from Warwick Crop Centre, was on BBC One’s ‘Supermarket Secrets’ discussing the testing of chilli heat with Greg Wallace.
Countering the Courgette Crisis
It seems we are facing a Courgette Crisis. Although it’s really just a bit of a run on green vegetables, it does remind us that actually, courgettes – and now iceberg lettuce – shouldn’t be ‘February vegetables’. This raises some important issues about what we as consumers have learned to expect when it comes to food.
Researchers at Warwick Crop Centre are looking at ways of improving existing UK vegetable and fruit crops as well as looking for completely new ones.
BRAVO: making Brassica crops more resilient
Protecting the UK’s most valuable crops by making them more resilient is at the heart of a new five-year project, in which the School of Life Sciences will play a key role.
The Brassica, Rapeseed and Vegetable Optimisation (BRAVO) project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), aims to combat losses of Oilseed rape and Brassica vegetable crops by unravelling the processes that control key aspects of plant development.
Read Press Release
Warwick Crop Centre Joins Historic Tractor Parade
Staff and students from Warwick Crop Centre took part in the ‘70 tractors for 70 years’ Massey Ferguson procession organised by Coventry Transport Museum on Saturday 30 July.
The School of Life Sciences welcomes Professor Murray Grant, who recently took up the position of Elizabeth Creak Chair in Food Security and, thanks to a generous donation from the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust, researchers teach children about soil at the Kenilworth Show.