Research stories

Discover how we’re taking the latest scientific knowledge and applying it in real-world settings, to ensure that the production and consumption of the world’s food is sustainable and resilient.

Professor Duncan Cameron inspecting tomatoes in a large greenhouse

Scientists develop ‘probiotics’ to help plants fight disease without pesticides

Research aims to develop plant ‘probiotics’ that help crops fight diseases and pests without the need for pesticides. The innovative approach could support farmers to grow tomatoes and soft fruits year-round and in urban areas.

People working on a city allotment in Sheffield on a sunny day. There is a car park in the background.

Diary project shows wellbeing benefits of allotment gardening

Our research demonstrates that allotments, across the country, provide their tenants with a huge spectrum of benefits beyond fruit and vegetables. Mental and physical health, community resilience, social connection, experiencing nature, and a culture of sharing knowledge and produce were just some of the co-benefits mentioned by our study participants.

Rice in a pan submerged in water with more water being poured onto it.

New way of cooking rice removes arsenic and retains mineral nutrients

This new study tested different ways to cook rice to try and reduce the arsenic content and found that by using a home-friendly way of cooking rice, the ‘parboiling with absorption method', most of the arsenic was removed, while keeping most nutrients in the cooked rice.

Two hands holding rice.

Half of UK rice breaches limits on arsenic for children

More than half of rice varieties sold in the UK contained levels of arsenic higher than regulations allow for babies and children under five. Our scientists call for labelling to warn of particular risk to infants and young children.

Overhead shot of a woman weeding raised beds in a vegetable garden with a blue handled hoe. Strawberry patch, carrots, lettuce, salad plants, beetroot, radish, onions, chive, chard and kale.

Allotment land cut by 65 per cent since mid-1900s

With waiting lists growing ever longer, this trend of declining allotment land is worrying – but our research has shown that one way councils could meet demand is by simply restoring former sites.

Picture of a box of allotment produce on the ground with green plants in the background

Urban land could grow fruit and veg for 15 percent of the population

Growing fruit and vegetables in just 10 per cent of a city’s gardens and other urban green spaces could provide 15 per cent of the local population with their ‘five a day’, according to new research.

Aerial view of a farm tractor in a yellow field during spraying and for growing food, vegetables and fruits on indian summer sunny day. Agriculture industry.

Rock dust helps soils store carbon and boosts crop yields

Simple method could help mitigate the climate crisis, improve food and soil security, and cut farmers’ costs.

A food market with fruit.

Business as usual ‘no longer an option’ for Europe’s food system

Report by an international team of experts, led by Institute for Sustainable Food co-director Professor Peter Jackson, demonstrates how the EU can transition to a sustainable food system.


Overuse of herbicides costing UK economy £400 million per year

Research by our experts alongside conservation charity the Zoological Society of London reveals the significant costs that are incurred by farmers as a consequence of herbicide resistance. The weed black-grass is decimating winter wheat farms across the UK.

Melted pieces of chocolate

High-carbon footprint households identified by sweets and restaurant meals – not higher meat consumption

Families with higher carbon footprints are likely to consume more confectionary, alcohol and restaurant food, according to a new study by our researchers.


Composer uses music and video to explore environmental realities of fish farming

Award-winning Sheffield composer and performer Ryan Taylor is set to launch an innovative multimedia performance in Tasmania this Friday uncovering the true environmental impacts of fish farming.

vegetables on a shelf

Using surplus food to empower communities

In the UK, 8.4 million people are struggling to afford to eat. Dr Megan Blake aims to improve approaches to the problems of food insecurity.


Working towards global food security, with natural, sustainable biocontrol

Our researchers are working with industry to develop a pesticide that won’t harm honeybees and other vital pollinators.

Hands holding soil

IPCC report on climate change and land use shows we don’t have time to work in silos

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on Climate Change and Land Use is a stark reminder that the way we currently grow, process and distribute our food is unsustainable.

Tractor ploughing field

Scientists turn damaging carbon dioxide into pellets to restore soils and increase crop yields

Carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere could be used to restore degraded soils, save water and boost crop yields, according to new research.

Barbecue showing vegetables

Summer BBQ releases more greenhouse gas emissions than 80-mile car journey

Our scientists reveal the environmental impact of a typical summer barbecue and explore how our food choices can help reduce global heating.


Scientists discover how plants breathe

Scientists have discovered how plants create networks of air channels – the lungs of the leaf – to transport carbon dioxide (CO2) to their cells.

Coffee Revolution

Scientists call for sustainable sandwiches to be more nutritious

After discovering that more sustainable sandwiches contain fewer vital nutrients, scientists call on the catering industry to support a shift to sustainable diets by providing more nutritionally optimal plant-based options.

Field of wheat

Scientists develop climate-ready wheat

Scientists at our Institute for Sustainable Food have found that engineering bread wheat to have fewer pores on their leaves makes more efficient use of water, potentially helping farmers facing more frequent droughts.

Rice field

Feeding the world with climate-ready rice

More than half of the world’s population rely on rice – but as climate chaos takes hold, this lynchpin of global food security is under threat.

Sustainable food asparagus

Surviving climate chaos

A combination of population growth, resource scarcity and climate change have left our food supplies vulnerable. How can we produce food in a way that can withstand these challenges?

Sustainable food events

Cereals: The Arable Event

On 12 and 13 June 2019, experts from the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield will be stepping out of the laboratory and into the fields of Lincolnshire for Cereals 2019 – the UK’s biggest arable event.

hydroponics pots vs soil

From Sheffield to Zaatari and back: feeding the world with foam

An abandoned school isn’t where you’d expect to find researchers trying to solve the problem of feeding a world of 10 billion. Then again, neither is a refugee camp. But this team of University of Sheffield researchers are nothing short of resourceful.

Small plant growing in soil

The future of our food

At the University of Sheffield we’ve spent years building our reputation as an institution of excellent research and we’re ready to champion a new approach to food sustainability. 

close up plants in hydroponics system

Solving the global food security crisis

We are set to tackle global issues of soil loss and achieve food security, starting at an urban farm in Tinsley.