Agriculture is of prime importance to the UK economy and a foundation for the UK’s £100 billion food and drink industry.
Crop losses due to pathogens are substantial, ranging from 30% to 80%. Plant Health will have societal and economic impact by generating knowledge and strategies for the detection of emerging and re-emerging plant diseases that affect our crops and other plant species, which currently threaten both food supply and biodiversity.
In less developed countries access to both fertilisers and pesticides are restricted due to the challenges of transportability and affordability. This increases vulnerability to large scale crop failures and related challenges including famine and social unrest.
In the UK we use approximately 1.5 billion tonnes of fertiliser each year and spend £500 million on insecticides and pesticides. The global market for nitrogen fertiliser was estimated at £100 billion in 2012.
Our research will generate knowledge and strategies to reduce the use of agrochemicals by developing durable resistance to pathogens and pests and by enabling a wider range of crops to fix their own nitrogen.
Outcomes from the Plant Health ISP will have a huge long-term economic impact on the UK’s bioeconomy and beyond.