N8 AgriFood hosts collaborative workshop for farming and scientific leaders

N8 AgriFood has partnered with research and consultancy company ADAS to co-host a workshop for the farming sector and academic scientists to discuss the challenge of increasing crop productivity whilst maintaining soil health.


Farmers, agronomists, farming industries and academics attended the event at the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus.

The workshop, ‘Increasing crop productivity through understanding and improving soil health’, was co-hosted by N8’s chair in soil microbiology Professor Tim Daniell from the University of Sheffield and Dr Pete Berry, Head of Crop Physiology and Principal Scientist at ADAS.

The free-to-attend event, organised by N8 AgriFood, targeted four challenges highlighted by the ADAS-led Yield Enhancement Network (YEN).

YEN, which is a network of farmers, farm industries and applied scientists, has identified several possible bottlenecks in the development of sustainable agriculture. These include manipulating soil biology, improving applied nutrient use efficiency, reducing crop damage and improving soil health.

Professor Tim Daniell from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences said: “This was a valuable opportunity for members of the farming and academic communities to discuss some of the most pressing issues currently facing the UK’s crop industry and develop projects to fill knowledge gaps restricting sustainable agriculture.

“N8’s AgriFood programme is ideally placed as it combines world-leading crop and soil research and has the capability to contribute towards creating innovative solutions to overcome the challenges posed by YEN.”

Attendees were also provided with updates on current scientific knowledge, practical implications and funding schemes, as the workshop aimed to lead to a number of collaborative grant applications between industrial and academic partners.

Dr Pete Berry of ADAS said: “The UK has plentiful resources for crop production, with potential yields much higher than current levels, yet only modest progress has been made for over 20 years.

“There are several possible mechanisms by which improving soil health could increase crop productivity including increasing water acquisition by crops and increasing the availability of nutrients for crop uptake.

“It is likely that there are other mechanisms yet to be identified and it will be important to test ideas for improving crop production at the field scale.” 

Additional information

N8 Research Partnership

The N8 Research Partnership is a collaboration of the eight most research intensive Universities in the North of England: Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York. It is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the member universities, to promote efficiency, collaboration and innovation.


The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Maddy Wainwright
Media & PR Apprentice
University of Sheffield
0114 222 1047