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Onion Crisis: Researchers Combatting Destructive Crop Disease Costing Farmers £10m Annually

The British Onions Producers’ Association (BOPA) leads a £1 million project, with researchers from Warwick, industry leaders, and innovators to combat Fusarium Basal Rot (FBR), a menace to the UK onion industry.

Professor John Clarkson, Plant Pathologist, said: This project is an exciting opportunity for the School of Life Sciences and School of Engineering to provide new approaches to tackling Fusarium basal rot of onion, which is increasingly devastating for UK onion growers. As well as supporting Engineering and the wider consortium with expertise on the disease, my team at the Warwick Crop Centre will develop new DNA-based molecular diagnostic approaches to detect the pathogen in soil so that growers can use this test to avoid planting onions in highly infested fields. The test may also help to assess the risk of onions developing basal rot in storage”.

Press Release (19 February 2024)


British-grown beans available for purchase

New varieties of Britain’s favourite pulse are available for purchase from 10 February 2024. These UK Registered beans (URBeans) were created by Professor Eric Holub as part of his work to diversify British cooking using home-grown ingredients.

A dry bean mix of Godiva and Capulet are on sale from Zero Store shops in Stratford-on-Avon and Leamington Spa.

Press Release (9 February 2024)


Life Sciences Research with Impact

The recently published BBSRC Impact Showcase 2023 presents a collection of impact stories arising from BBSRC investments. The showcase highlights the vital role bioscience has in addressing key strategic global challenges and features research by Professor Eric Holub to develop new varieties of beans compatible with the British Climate.
Find out more (Scroll down the homepage to find 'Homegrown production of designer dry beans').


University of Warwick's bean grower Andy Ward grapples with impacts of torrential rain

Lincolnshire farmer Andy Ward, known for cultivating the first British Baked Beans in partnership with University of Warwick scientist Eric Holub, is facing a harsh reality as standing waters inundate his farmlands.

Press Release (5 January 2023)


Webinar: Introduction to Warwick Agri-Tech - Thursday 25 January

The University of Warwick recently announced the formation of Warwick Agri-Tech to help the future of farming with automation – addressing issues such as labour shortages, food insecurity and loss of biodiversity.

On Thursday 25 January, Emilio Loo Monardez, WMG and Dave Chandler, Warwick Crop Centre will talk about some of the projects that Warwick Agri-Tech are undertaking currently and their plans for the future.

Find out more and book your place.

Fri 05 Jan 2024, 14:52 | Tags: Faculty of Science Plant & Agricultural Bioscience

Warwick Agri-Tech ploughs the future of farming and forestry with robotics

The University of Warwick announces Warwick Agri-Tech to help the future of farming with automation – addressing issues such as labour shortages, food insecurity and loss of biodiversity.

Warwick Agri-Tech, will also support the UK to meet climate targets while enabling the production of enough nutritious food for the growing population. It will combine two world class faculties at WMG at The University of Warwick and the School of Life Sciences (SLS), working with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to spearhead automation in areas such as horticulture, crops and forestry.

Press release (21 December 2023)


“We three beans”: Capulet, Godiva and Olivia beans on sale in the New Year

Godiva, Capulet and Olivia are new varieties of the nation’s favourite pulse, common beans, developed and grown in the UK. The trio are set to go plastic-free in the new year when they go on sale in local zero-waste stores.

The UK Registered beans (URBeans) mark an important milestone, kicking-off the celebrations of 75 years of horticultural research at the site of the National Vegetable Research Station, now Warwick Crop Centre, at the University of Warwick Innovation Campus, near Stratford-upon-Avon.

The URBeans are named after iconic figures from the Stratford and Coventry areas. These common beans represent the latest efforts of the University of Warwick’s Professor Eric Holub, in his work to to diversify British cooking. He’s starting close to home - in and around Warwickshire.

Press Release (7 Dec 2023)

Thu 07 Dec 2023, 16:02 | Tags: Faculty of Science Plant & Agricultural Bioscience

British grown baked beans ‘in the can’

The first ever commercial crop of British-grown baked beans have progressed to the tinning phase, a pivotal step in their journey orchestrated by Professor Eric Holub. It is hoped that the baked bean breakthrough will reduce the reliance on imports.
Press Release (29 November 2023)


Warwick Agri-Tech: Innovation for a Sustainable Future

On 29 and 30 December, Warwick Agri-Tech is showcasing its expertise at The CropTec Show 2023 at Stoneleigh. Warwick Agri-Tech is a WMG-SLS collaboration combining advanced engineering with plant science to shape the future of agriculture.

Watch the Agri-Tech video

Wed 29 Nov 2023, 09:44 | Tags: Faculty of Science Plant & Agricultural Bioscience

SLS researchers contribute to UK Parliament report on horticulture

On 6 November, the House of Lords published a report entitled ‘Sowing the seeds: A blooming English horticultural sector’. The report looks at the development of the horticultural sector in England and includes citations from Professor Richard Napier and contributions from Professor Rosemary Collier and Alex Kelly.

Read the report

Tue 07 Nov 2023, 13:29 | Tags: Faculty of Science Plant & Agricultural Bioscience

Farming and Environment Award

Professor Rosemary Collier has been Highly Commended by the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists in the first Caroline Drummond Award, Celebrating and Communicating Farming Excellence. Rosemary will be presented with a trophy later in the year.
Find out about the awardLink opens in a new window.

Wed 01 Nov 2023, 10:31 | Tags: Faculty of Science Plant & Agricultural Bioscience

The University of Warwick celebrates the successful harvest of "GODIVA" and ‘OLIVIA’ – two novel dry beans inspired by local cultural history.

Researchers at Warwick Crop Centre have celebrated the successful harvest of a homegrown bean developed to thrive in a British summer.

Press Release (9 September 2023)

Professor Eric Holub and research fellow Rosanne Maguire discuss the novel bean varieties on BBC CWR.

Radio interview 


National Organic Month: Warwick Crop Centre's pioneering research into low-input farming

During National Organic Month, the University of Warwick's Crop Centre takes a pioneering stance in the realm of low-input farming, shedding light on the concept of 'organic farming.'

Press Release (1 September 2023)


Robocrop: The robot assistants helping farmers to increase productivity

The future of farming could involve robots– as farmers seek to address labour shortages and increase crop yields.

Warwick Crop Centre and WMG are working in close collaboration to combine their robotics expertise and plant science expertise to investigate how they can apply autonomous robotics to greenhouses and croppable fields.

Press Release (25 August 2023)


ENABLE workshop: Are the university learning environments as inclusive as we think?

Lecture theatre with studentsOn Friday 29 September 2023, the School of Life Sciences will be hosting a free workshop: "Are the university learning environments as inclusive as we think? An investigation from the awarding perspective".

Based on a thorough data analysis from recent years and first-hand practical experience, the workshop will identify existing reasons for lack of inclusivity and unbiased awarding in biological science and related degree streams.

The workshop participants, comprising academic leaders, teaching professionals and a diverse student community, will also provide on consensus recommendations on how to close existing awarding gaps for a more inclusive learning and teaching environment throughout the UK.

Consensus recommendations will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Find out more and register


Helping plants and bacteria work together reduces fertiliser need

Today, published in Microbiome, Dr Beatriz Lagunas and colleagues at the Universities of Warwick and Justus Liebig (Germany) have shown a new way to boost plant nutrient uptake and growth. This could reduce the need for fertilisers, an input to agriculture which can be harmful for the environment. Fertilisers can run into waterways, or get broken down by microbes in the soil, releasing the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.

Press release (3 July 2023)


The first British Baked Beans could be on the breakfast menu thanks to University of Warwick research

Professor Eric Holub, a plant scientist at Warwick Crop Centre, has developed Haricot bean varieties which can be sown in early May and harvested as a dry grain before mid-September, matching the UK's warmer months. Until now, it has been impossible for farmers to grow the haricot variety used for baked beans in the UK because they are incompatible with the climate.

Press Release (16 June 2023)

The story was also on BBC Breakfast. Watch it on iPlayer (from 22m 30s)


Honorary Fellow

MurrayProfessor Murray Grant has been re-elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Fellows have made contributions to knowledge at the highest levels in their different fields and across disciplinary boundaries. Find out more


Can super-speedy plant cells feed a growing population?

Joe McKennaDr Joe Mckenna has been awarded a BBSRC Discovery Fellowship of £535,000 to investigate actin – a natural molecule contained in plant cells – to see whether it can be engineered to move faster and so grow bigger plants with more biomass.

Press release (21 March 2023)

Thu 23 Mar 2023, 10:40 | Tags: Plant & Agricultural Bioscience Cells & Development

Two domestications for grapes

Professor Robin Allaby gives his perspective in Science, on the evolutionary events that led to grape domestication. The article made the front cover.
Read the paper (3 March 2023)


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