The University of Cambridge (UCAM) has unrivalled strengths in research and teaching excellence, providing a source of knowledge and skills in the region. CambPlants Hub brings together the unique concentration of research expertise in plant processes at UCAM, including the Department of Plant Sciences, the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Algal Innovation Centre, the Department of Biochemistry, and the new Crop Science Centre.
In the field of Agri-Tech, the role of sustainability on agronomy is led by the Department of Zoology; technology innovation is undertaken in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology; and the UK centre in Agricultural and Horticultural Economics is based in the Department of Land Economy.
Furthermore, UCAM places emphasis on interdisciplinary agricultural research being undertaken through Strategic Research Initiatives such as Cambridge Global Food Security, Synthetic Biology in Cambridge and the Cambridge Centre for Data-Driven Discovery. UCAM has an extensive network of industrial interactions both globally and locally, exemplified by the Cambridge cluster and supported by Cambridge Enterprise, and most recently through the collaborative agri-tech partnership, Ceres. International development in the area of food systems and sustainable agriculture is led by Cambridge Global Challenges. These are homes to dynamic communities of researchers already addressing crop-related issues, as recognized by support from research councils, government bodies and international agencies.
Broadly, there are five strategic sector themes:
Food Security – Plant pathology, crop protection towards both pathogens and environmental factors, disease resistance and yield improvement.
Climate Science and Ecosystem Conservation – Plant molecular, physiological and environmental responses.
Precision Agriculture/Automation – The development of sensors that assess maturity in plants and plant/animal health, and robotic applications for farming (e.g. crop harvesting). An example is the Agriforwards CDT that was established by the University of Lincoln in collaboration with UCAM and the University of East Anglia.
Food systems and sustainable agriculture – Working towards better use of resources (land, water, energy), more efficient supply chains, and minimising the environmental impact of the road freight sector.
Bioenergy – Understanding cell wall biosynthesis, and the use of plants and algae for biofuel and solar fuel production.
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