Novel knowledge exchange approaches for sustainable food production

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Zoology


Not needed for this application
Description The one year NERC Knowledge Exchange Programme on Sustainable Food Production aimed to enhance the use of science in making UK food production systems more environmentally sustainable.

It was carried out by a partnership of five leading UK universities _ Cambridge, Bangor, Lancaster, Leeds and Reading - and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. These organisations are well_known for world class research on agriculture, ecosystems, conservation or aquaculture and fisheries science.

The overall approach to knowledge exchange centred on identifying priority knowledge needs in the sector and synthesizing existing knowledge. The Programme focused on three priority areas for synthesis of evidence:

• Natural pest regulation

• Soil fertility

• Sustainable aquaculture

It produced synopses of evidence for the effects of actions in each of these priority areas and completed an additional synopsis of evidence on farmland biodiversity. These are available in a searchable database of summarised evidence on the Knowledge Exchange Programme website.

The Programme established four new partnerships between large food retailers or manufacturers and universities, and published three sets of priority knowledge needs in the areas of agriculture, aquaculture and UK food security.
Exploitation Route Food suppliers, farmers, growers, manufacturers, consumer groups, policy makers and civil society organisations can all benefit from the opportunities to access synthesized evidence, and to work more closely with scientists. The priority knowledge needs are being used to develop new collaborative projects and design research programmes, in which scientists work directly with organisations from the public and private sectors. This will help to align future research with societal demands and close the 'research-implementation gap'.

For example, the Waitrose Agronomy Group has funded a project to develop clear evidence-based guidance for farmers and growers from the synopses of evidence on biodiversity, soil fertility and natural pest regulation. See
Sectors Environment

Description Informing Farm Management with Evidence 
Organisation Waitrose Agronomy Group
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Waitrose Agronomy Group has invested in on-going work at the University of Cambridge to develop guidance for on-farm management of biodiversity and ecosystem services based on evidence. Evidence assessments will be based on synopses of evidence for actions to enhance natural pest control, soil fertility and farmland biodiversity, developed under the NERC Knowledge Exchange Programme on Sustainable Food Production. Assessments will be carried out by multi-stakeholder groups, involving researchers, growers and NGOs. The resulting evidence assessments across multiple ecosystem services will be used to develop Waitrose Agronomy Group strategy and publicised to a wide network of growers and suppliers via the Waitrose Sustainable Agriculture Communications Portal (
Start Year 2014