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agrifood, cakes

Our success stories

We have been awarding pump priming grants to colleagues across the University since 2017 and these grants have generated some excellent research.

Explore the many success story case studies in our main areas of research focus below.

Sustainable food production

Toward an integrated approach for salt intrusion and salinization management in soil [...]

Toward an integrated approach for salt intrusion and salinization management in soil and aquifers for sustainable agriculture

Dr Nima Shokri, Department of Chemical Engineering

River deltas are among the most fertile areas on the planet, and support much of the world's fisheries, and agriculture. Salt intrusion and soil salinization have been causing land degradation and compromising food production in many deltas worldwide. Numerical models at the scale of river deltas have been used to reproduce salt distribution in these environments but they neglect processes occurring at the pore-scale and how features such as soil characteristics and water content dynamics influence salt intrusion and salinization at the large-scale.

This project aims at developing the tools for coupling of the large-scale frameworks used by ocean scientists with the pore-scale and physically-based models utilized by soil physicists and chemical engineers. Research outputs will help to inform local communities in deltas region about sustainable levels of groundwater extraction and the risk for food production under different land uses and climate scenarios.

Developing and testing sustainable horticultural growing media for food crops

Prof David Johnson, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Peat has been the main growing medium for the horticultural industry for decades because its unique properties provide optimum plant growth at minimal economic cost. However, the environmental costs of peat extraction are considerable, and there is now both a high demand and urgent need to develop new sustainable growing media mixtures based on reduced-peat and peat-free materials. There is a lack of information on the biophysical and chemical characteristics of recently developed peat-free media that prevents the optimization of mixtures. Additionally, we must identify new alternative sustainably-sourced materials to secure the supply of consistent growing media to the professional agri-food and horticultural industry. In this translational research proposal, we will establish a new industrial collaboration to generate critical data on the biophysical properties of several emerging peat-free substrates to pave the way for funding applications for the development of a predictive model to aid design of peat-free media.

Remote canopy measurement for precision agroforestry and phenotyping in orchard crops

Dr Joseph Fennel, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Apple orchards are a high value part of the UK food production network, however the industry faces increasing pressure to reduce costs while producing a higher quality, sustainable crop with fewer pesticides. Understanding the structure of the fruit trees can provide plant growers and breeding nurseries with real benefits. Knowing where blossom forms, the size and shape of the canopy and the pattern of branches can help growers make decisions about how much water to supply, which products to apply to the crop and when to harvest. Using high precision laser devices, drone cameras and satellites allows different properties to be measured at different levels of precision. We are interested in understanding how we can combine these different techniques to provide growers with the information they need to produce better crops with less environmental impact.

Real-time imaging and motion tracking of pollinating insects in field conditions

Prof Patrick Gaydecki, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Tracking the migration patterns of insects is of central importance to understanding their spatial population dynamics and in analysing such diverse effects as the impact of insecticides (such as the newer neonicotinoids) on honeybee and bumblebee populations, crop pollination activity and optimisation of hedgerows and set-aside field margins as feeding and breeding sites for pollinators. Such tracking could also play a key role in pest management strategies and infestation prediction including large-scale locust movement. The purpose of this project was to investigate the feasibility of the developing a basic system for daytime imaging and motion tracking of pollinating species in field conditions, with cameras located up to 200 m from the insects. The instrumentation system so far constructed comprises a pulsed infrared illumination source, synchronization electronics, detector filter and high-speed camera, together with analysis software.

The function of the pulsed illumination source is to out-compete the effect of the sun, so a portion of the spectrum is chosen in which daylight at ground level is deficient – approximately 750 nm upwards. By exploiting forward scattering – in which the light source is located in front of the camera, the insect wings are efficiently illuminated, much like raindrops caught in the headlights of a car at night. The video camera records the tracks of the flying bees, which appear as bright points of light moving against a dark background, and software calculates statistics of the trajectories, including speeds, accelerations and angular velocities.

Restoration of ecosystem services in degraded grasslands: a global assessment

Prof Richard Bardgett, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

A quarter of the Earth’s land surface is covered with grasslands that play a major role in the provision of food and ecosystem services in developing countries, largely through traditional livestock grazing, but also as a source of biological resources critical to conventional and traditional medicine. However, grassland degradation, caused mostly by overgrazing and climate change, presents a serious threat to food security, economic development, and human wellbeing and is plunging millions into hunger and poverty. Despite this, there is much uncertainty regarding the most suitable approaches to grassland restoration and of the socio-ecological trade-offs and barriers that result from potential interventions. Here, we are carrying out a series of workshops that bring together an already established network of soil, plant and agricultural scientists, including partners from N8, to conduct the first global assessment of the extent and causes of grassland degradation, and of potential interventions for their restoration in order to deliver food and ecosystem services in a sustainable way.

GasLab - in situ quantification of grassland C and N cycling [...]

GasLab - in situ quantification of grassland C and N cycling with a new mobile isotope and trace gas laboratory

Professor David Johnson, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Greenhouse gases, such carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, are emitted to the atmosphere from soil surfaces, and contribute substantially to global climate change. We therefore need to understand the factors that affect greenhouse gas production. One major factor is the way we manage land for agriculture. Grasslands, for example, are grazed for livestock production, and sometimes fertilised and reseeded. This project will use a state-of-the-art mobile greenhouse gas laboratory to quantify how grassland management affects greenhouse gas production across a network of farms managed by the N8 Agrifood consortium. The mobile laboratory will provide data on fluxes of greenhouse gases at very fine spatial and temporal scales, and will provide valuable data to facilitate unification of the N8 network of experimental farms to facilitate additional funding applications across the consortium.


Soil biochemistry dictates the “global phosphorus use efficiency” in crop production systems

Dr Vahid Niasar, Department of Chemical Engineering

Global food security, while reconciling environmental concerns, is one of the grand challenges that civilisations will face in next few decades. Global food demand is on a trajectory to increase by 70% in 2050. However, this trajectory is much worse in SSA as stated by FAO; “Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region of the world where hunger is projected to worsen over the next two decades” due to serious yield gap. Sustainable food supply in SSA is challenged by the availability of natural resources and poor soil fertility influenced by poverty, poor agricultural management, and water and nutrient limitations, among which inorganic phosphorus is our target nutrient in this research. Recent research urge for “a more integrated and effective approach to the management of the phosphorus cycle” and agricultural policy continues to shift towards the adoption of more sustainable management practices that provide a greater degree of food security with reduced environmental impact. Clearly, it is urgently needed to develop management strategies that are more effective at using native P, especially in those soils where inorganic P limits or co-limits plant productivity. 

Our research tackles the fundamental mechanisms through which crops in SSA acquire P and addresses potential contribution of improved nutrient management to fill the yield gap in SSA using a modelling-based approach. This study employs an integrated approach that covers various aspects of the problem including soil chemistry (pH, mineralogy, ion exchange capacity, P cycle in soils), soil biology (arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi), soil-crop interaction, 2050 sustainability scenario, and modelling-based decision-making support system.

We address the complex interaction between AMF, organic and inorganic P, and indigenous SSA soils to develop a strategy to maximise crop production using optimised P use management.   

This research is carried out in collaboration with University of Manchester, University of Lancaster, Lincoln University and Wageningen University.

Biocontrol of aflatoxin production in maize

Dr Michael Bromley Division of Infection, Immunity and Respiratory Medicine

Fungal contamination leading to reduced harvest and post-harvest food spoilage accounts for the loss of between 10% and 20% of food production worldwide. As such fungi represent a major factor that undermines food supply. A major aspect is loss of food production due to contamination with mycotoxins and in particular aflatoxins, which are potent carcinogens and causes severe liver damage. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 25 percent of food crops are affected worldwide. The focus of the project is directed at combating the loss of food production due to fungal contamination and toxicity, resulting from aflatoxin producing Aspergilli. The aim is to identify natural isolates and construct genetically modified strains of Aspergillus Section Flavi that are non-toxigenic and assess their potential use as natural competitors to combat food spoilage and improve harvest.


Volatile-triggered release of crop protection agents

Dr Chris Blanford, Department of Materials

The goal of the project is to create a proof-of-principle electrochemical device to demonstrate the feasibility of a triggered-release system based on graphene that responds selectively to plant-defence volatiles. A system such as this could delay the onset of pesticide resistance by releasing crop-protection agents only as required. This project built on IP-protected technology developed by Dr Blanford and his colleagues at The University of Manchester, and research in plant signalling at the University of Sheffield. The focus of the project was a system designed for parasitoid attack on brassicas, including the economically important oilseed rape.

Mastitis Detection by Non-Contact Magnetic Induction Spectroscopy

Dr Frank Podd, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Mastitis, the infection of the cow’s udder, is one of the key diseases limiting dairy production. The cow’s udder is split into four sections, and often only one of these sections will be infected. The milk from the four sections of the udder is combined into one stream and then tested for signs of mastitis using a conductivity meter. However, at this point, it is no longer possible to detect which section of the cow’s udder is infected and all of the combined milk is wasted.

This project aims to, for the first time in agriculture, detect mastitis by measuring impedance across the mammary gland during the milking process before milk has left the gland. Automated early detection of mastitis, preferably before the milk is removed from the udder, would prevent contamination of the milking system with bacteria, allow prompt treatment or monitoring and ensure the bacterial quality of the milk.  


Wild plant cultivation for agri-environment schemes: consequences for genetic diversity and ecosystem [...]

Wild plant cultivation for agri-environment schemes: consequences for genetic diversity and ecosystem service provision

Dr Marina Semchenko, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Agri-environment schemes and conservation policies have been introduced across Europe to mitigate the negative effects of intensive agriculture on biodiversity. These involve using wildflower mixtures for sowing on field margins and grassland restoration. Such approaches require the cultivation of wild plants in monocultures, and harvesting seeds in bulk to be sold on to farmers and conservation practitioners. While such schemes clearly have some positive benefits for biodiversity, we don’t know how large-scale production of wild seed affects plant genetic resources or how it affects soil health, which underpin the long-term sustainability of restored habitat. In collaboration with one of the largest wild seed producers in the UK, this project aims to get the first insight into the effects of cultivation on wild plants. This new knowledge will help to optimize wild seed production and hopefully initiate further research into techniques used for wild seed production across the UK and Europe.


Sustainable intensification of groundwater irrigation in the Terai region of Nepal

Sustainable intensification of groundwater irrigation in the Terai region of Nepal

Dr Tim Foster, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering: Water Resources Section

Lack of reliable irrigation water supplies is a key driver of low agricultural productivity and food insecurity in Nepal, particularly in the Terai region where ~60% of Nepal’s agricultural land use is concentrated. The Nepalese government has sought to address these challenges through shallow tube well development for groundwater irrigation. However, the hydrologic and socio-economic sustainability of intensifying groundwater irrigation in the Terai remains poorly understood. This interdisciplinary project brings together researchers from Manchester and Durham universities, along with Nepalese and international partners, to generate new knowledge about the: (i) structure and distribution of groundwater availability across the Terai, and (ii) existing technical and socio-economic constraints, such as pumping costs and inefficiencies, that limit effective use of groundwater for irrigation. Findings from our pilot analyses will support high-profile funding proposals in 2018/19, and also provide policy-relevant guidance about the potential for groundwater to support sustainable improvements in smallholder livelihoods.


Mining post-mortem examination reports for farm animals to enhance and support national disease surveillance

Mining post-mortem examination reports for farm animals to enhance and support national disease surveillance

Prof Goran Nenadic, Department of Computer Science

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is responsible for disease surveillance in farm animal species in the UK. This includes targeted surveillance (eg: routine testing for bovine tuberculosis) and scanning (passive) surveillance, which includes sample and carcase submissions to laboratories for diagnostic tests and veterinary post-mortem examinations.
Much of the fine detail contained within the free-text of APHA reports cannot be readily extracted and used for surveillance and research purposes. Indeed, there are many cases where a definitive diagnosis is not reached – currently coded as ‘Diagnosis Not Reached’ by syndrome (eg: respiratory or enteric). This pump-priming project will look to identify details contained within the free text to create a foundation that will allow new and emerging disease syndromes to be identified at an earlier stage than currently possible.


Exploring DNA-Nanoparticle Conjugates for Convenient Point-of-Use Detection of Plant Fungal Pathogens

Exploring DNA-Nanoparticle Conjugates for Convenient Point-of-Use Detection of Plant Fungal Pathogens

Dr Lu Shin Wong, Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, Department of Chemistry

Plant diseases caused by fungi are a universal problem with significant impact on the safety and consistency of food supply, as well as a myriad of other agricultural products. As with any disease, early and accurate detection, at the point of need, is key to effective management. Nanoparticle-based diagnostic kits are increasingly being used in healthcare, and kits that detect DNA specific to various microbes have been demonstrated. These kits are portable, cheap, require no specialist training or laboratory equipment; and are thus ideal for use in the field. This proposal thus aims to explore the use of this technology to the agri-food sector. Specifically, it will aim to test the use of these nanoparticle-based systems for the detection of DNA from fungi that infect plants, from samples of plant tissue and soil.

Characterization of soil salinization for sustainable agriculture

Characterization of soil salinization for sustainable agriculture

Dr Nima Shokri, Department of Chemical Engineering

The excess accumulation of salt in soil is a global problem and is one of the most widespread soil degradation processes. The necessity to study salt affected soil is increased by future increase in the extent and degree of irrigation and projected change in climate. It is therefore highly desirable to explore methods to characterize the salt precipitation processes which enable us to manage and, to some extent, prevent the salinization processes.
This project is focused on quantifying the effects of salt on water evaporation from soil. In this project we will utilize numerical simulations and experiments to quantify how the presence of precipitated salt influences water evaporation from land. The developed tools and knowledge will be useful for accurate description of water availability in soil, addressing the issue of soil salinization and water management which are vital components for sustainable crop production.

Increasing the value of woody crops by improving their properties for use as novel forage crops and [...]

Increasing the value of woody crops by improving their properties for use as novel forage crops and sustainable chemical production.

Dr Simon Turner, School of Biological Science

Meeting the increased demands for food and the need to mitigate the effects of climate change by finding new sustainable methods of food production with greatly reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are two of the biggest global challenges facing society. Woody plant biomass generated from commercial forestry and crop residues, such as stems, from grain crops represents an underutilised resource that can be used to meet these demands. The use of plant biomass is hampered by our inability to easily break it down that is required to release the useful sugars. Apple rubbery wood disease results in wood that is rich in sugars that are much more easily released. We now wish to better understand how symptoms develop, so we are able to make similar changes in a variety of commercial important trees and other crops species to dramatically improve their utility as a renewable source of sugars.

Building resilience capacity of smallholder coffee farmers [...]

Building resilience capacity of smallholder coffee farmers and their communities: innovation across three continents

Professor Bruce Grieve - Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

This novel project involves senior scholars collaborating as an interdisciplinary team spanning Biology, Management, Environment/Geography and Engineering across Newcastle, Manchester and York. 

Grieve and Doherty have been working on different parts of the coffee supply chain independently via respective Newton Fund projects and other team members have complementary expertise in areas such as plant genetics and rural entrepreneurship. This bid will bring together this team for the first time to map out a programme of work to add significant economic, social and environmental value to smallholder highland communities in the South who are faced with increasing pressures. Embedded in the bid are Universities in ODA-listed countries, smallholder coffee organisations, industry organisations plus government representatives.

Resilient food supply chains

3D Ultra-High Precision Agriculture: Exemplification against weed management

Professor Alexander Lanzon, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

This project builds upon a body of research from the University of York that uses permanently fixed 4- or 3-pole tethers and winches to position an environmental sensor system in 3D space over a field or aquatic system to within +/-2mm (NERC funded). This work will extend the existing concept and dynamic control systems to a buoyant UAV (unmanned air vehicle) which may be transported to, and set up as required to provide positioning with similar accuracy above a commercial agricultural, livestock or field-phenotyping facility. By removing the dependence upon expensive and difficult to manage installations, the proposed system will become applicable to investigations into automation of: seed drilling; direct application of treatments to plant, soil or animal; selective harvesting; or close-proximity monitoring. The system will be tested against precision weed control, using protocols developed at Manchester within the Innovate-UK Hyperweeding project with Syngenta & G’s-Fresh Produce (project partners).

Evaluation of community junk food cafés’ impact on food supply chains and public health [...]

Evaluation of community junk food cafés’ impact on food supply chains, public health, deprived communities and reducing food waste in the North West.

Arpana Verma, School of Health Sciences

The project is looking to learn what added value is provided by the Junk Food Café in Skelmersdale, West Lancashire compared to other similar café projects throughout the North West. The Skelmersdale Junk Food Café gives people in a deprived community the opportunity to have healthy meals for as much or as little as they can afford. The meals are created from produce that is going out of date and donated by supermarkets and therefore reduces food waste. The café is run by people with mental health problems who are looking to improve their mental wellbeing through work and interacting with other people. This project will find out what added impacts are gained from the Skelmersdale version of the café and look at how this work can be rolled-out in other areas. We will also be looking at the evidence behind similar projects to find out what works best.

An integrated farm retailer supply chain. A scoping study.

Professor John Gray, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

To undertake a scoping study that would identify the challenges and opportunities of developing a fully integrated digital supply chain that would link primary food production through factory processing to retailer supply. The aim will be to generate industrial interest in the concept, organise an industrial led working group to identify the challenges and opportunities, liaise with solution providers from industry and academia as well as cross sectoral support from the Northern Robotics Network and elsewhere The final objective will be to organise  an industrial led consortium which would prepare and submit  a significant funding proposal to establish a pilot scheme to demonstrate the feasibility of the concept for at least one product or commodity.

An Interdisciplinary Industry led Forum to Support the Uptake of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence [...]

An Interdisciplinary Industry led Forum to Support the Uptake of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence(RAI)Technology in Food Manufacturing

Professor John Gray, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

The aim of the proposal is to review the role and scope of the existing Food Manufacturing Engineering Group to ensure that it is well placed to address the challenges and opportunities presented by emerging Robotic and Artificial Intellegence(RAI) technology. The study will be informed bt widespread consultation with industry and academia and relevant governmental and trade associations. The project will be supported throughout by an already identified and committed group of senior non academic personnel from various companies and associations. The final objective will be the formulation of a strong industry led group that will support and fund the forums administrative resource within an academic environment for a period of at least 3 years and promote its activities widely within the sector.


Environmental sustainability of valorisation routes of spent coffee grounds: from waste to biodiesel

Environmental sustainability of valorisation routes of spent coffee grounds: from waste to biodiesel

Professor Adisa Azipagic, Department of Chemical Engineering

Environmental concerns and volatile fuel prices have led to increasing efforts to develop biofuels, with focus on waste resources. Spent coffee grounds (SCGs) have demonstrated , at a laboratory scale, to have a good potential as a low-cost feedstock for biodiesel production, as coffee is the second largest traded commodity after petroleum and the amount of coffee waste is significant. Furthermore, these innovative routes of waste valorisation are in line with the principles of circular economy, to preserve and enhance natural capital, optimise resource yields and foster system effectiveness.

Therefore, the main objectives of this project are to evaluate the environmental sustainability of using SCGs to produce biodiesel. These results will be compared with current waste treatment practices (landfilling, anaerobic digestion and incineration), to benchmark the SCG valorisation route and draw recommendation to stakeholders and policy makers.


Improving cucumber shelf-life

Improving cucumber shelf-life

Dr Patrick Gallois,  School of Biological Science

Consumer surveys have indicated that cucumbers are the second most likely item to go bad in fridges after lettuces. This is because refrigerators are typically set at 5-8˚C while cucumber prefers at least to be at a temperature above 10-12˚C.  Storage in fridges causes cold injury and dehydration and contributes to cucumber spoilage. Cucumbers are wrapped in plastic to help reduce the damage. This project is looking at the injury process in cucumber and intending to reduce spoilage and possibly reduce the need for plastic wrapping. We are developing links with UK cucumber growers to investigate together possible changes towards a more sustainable cucumber production. The Co-Op has calculated that selling unwrapped cucumbers in their stores would save eight tonnes of plastic waste every year. 

Improved consumption and health

So you think you can cook? [...]

So you think you can cook? Unpacking the personal and political potential of cookery classes in low-income communities, Manchester

Dr Sarah Hall, Geography, School of Environment, Education and Development; Manchester Urban Institute

Being taught cookery skills can empower individuals to be imaginative, resourceful and healthy in their food creations, although limited research explores the material, social and relational benefits. Taking the case of community cooking classes, this project unpacks the impacts and potential of social cooking for those from low-income backgrounds. Partnered with Cracking Good Food (CGF) Manchester, and a novel interdisciplinary team across three N8 institutions (Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield), the project is based in two of Manchester's most deprived areas – Moston and Old Moat.

Piloting methods of ethnographic cook-alongs and food-for-thoughts, alongside analysis of existing CGF data, we develop rich mixed-methods to measure the social, financial, nutritional, and environmental potential of cookery classes, for participants, their families and wider communities. Exploring food stuffs, stories and sociality, the project shifts the focus from stigmatising discourses of (un)healthiness, (in)convenience and (mis)education, towards exploring long-term personal and political capacities of community cooking and collaboration. 

The physiological effects of non-nutritive sweeteners in humans: a pilot randomized trial

Professor John Mclaughlin, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Gastroenterology, School of Social Sciences

On-going debate concerns non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) and their effects on metabolism. Although NNS contain zero calories, their use has been associated with being overweight. However these observational studies are largely retrospective and cannot show whether their use leads to weight gain, or whether people with elevated weights subsequently become more likely to use NNS. It is possible that overcompensation occurs at the next meal and more food is consumed, perhaps because sweetness without calories ‘fools’ the metabolic processes. Few studies have studied the long-term effect on NNS consumption on metabolism, in particular on glucose response. In this project we aim to study the chronic effects of NNS consumption on glucose tolerance in healthy volunteers. Pump-priming funding is required for the conduction of a pilot randomized controlled clinical trial which will help us evaluate any long-term effects of NNS consumption on glucose homeostasis and control of food intake in general.

Greenhouse gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GDOT) Hack Nights

Greenhouse gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GDOT) Hack Nights

Professor Sarah Bridle, Department of Physics and Astronomy

There is currently a lack of engagement and interdisciplinary innovation between data science and healthy sustainable food systems. There are many dietary and sustainability datasets available for research, but little innovation and investigation is carried out. We aim to host a series of “hackathon” or “hack nights” where computer literate tech experts will engage with agrifood academics from across the N8 in order to create new tools and visualizations based on dietary and sustainability datasets. These hack nights are part networking and part applied problem solving event.


Novel approaches to developing viscoelastic proteins for use in food

Novel approaches to developing viscoelastic proteins for use in food

Professor Clare Mills, School of Biological Sciences, Division of Infection, Immunity and Respiratory Medicine

The diversity of wheat-based products, from foamy light structures of bread to the denser structure of pasta, is enabled by a protein fraction called gluten which has unique elastic properties. Unfortunately this same protein fraction causes an intolerance syndrome called coeliac disease, which affects around 1% of the UK population. They have to consume a gluten-free diet but many gluten-free alternatives have poorer nutritional quality.  An effective alternative to gluten is required which could be produced using a new technology called “synthetic biology” where organisms (bacteria, plants) can be adapted to produce new proteins.  Shot pieces of protein (peptides) will be identified which could form building blocks needed to build a new gluten-protein alternative which takes account of nutritional requirements. Consumer attitudes to the potential benefits of the use of synthetic biology in food will be explored with patient organisations representing the gluten intolerant and allergic community. 


Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GGDOT) – Citizen Platform

Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GGDOT) – Citizen Platform

Professor Sarah Bridle,  Department of Physics and Astronomy

Currently there is no easy way for researchers to engage and educate citizens about food greenhouse gas emissions, and gather knowledge and preferences about their diet. This pump priming project will create and pilot an interface for the citizen platform of the Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GGDOT). This will allow for citizen science to be conducted with the GGDOT - specifically the ability for citizens to enter their diets via a web base platform into GGDOT and visualise the environmental impact of their dietary choices, and changes they could make. This visualisation of diet is needed as it will allow for tailored health and sustainability dietary advice and education and to provide more evidence for policy makers based on citizen interaction.

Developing a research collaboration network on sustainable agriculture between the UK and S/SE Asia

Developing a research collaboration network on sustainable agriculture between the UK and S/SE Asia

Dr Catherine Walton, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ecology and Evolution Group

Agriculture and food security are centrally linked to many of the Sustainable Development Goals and are intrinsically related to health and economic well-being across the world. Undertaking research in broad areas such as sustainable food production, resilient food supply chains and improved behaviours is critical to developing and implementing best practice and sustainability in the agrifood arena. S/SE Asian countries are important global producers and consumers of rice and other crops, but the regional diversity in both environmental and socioeconomic/ political context is challenging for developing a sustainable agriculture system. This proposal aims to create networks of researchers based in the UK in N8 Institutions and in S/SE Asia (particularly in Myanmar plus Cambodia, India, Vietnam and Thailand), in order to proactively identify critical research gaps and teams of people with relevant expertise, to develop research capacity and allow researchers to maximize efficiency and impact when a potential opportunity arises.

Take a bite out of climate change – communicating agrifood science

Take a bite out of climate change – communicating agrifood science

Dr Helen Downie, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering 

The way we produce and consume food affects the world’s climate through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on farms and through the way food is produced and transported. We need to reduce GHG emissions to avoid dangerous consequences of climate change. We are finding out ways of reducing GHG emissions in farming, food processing and in the food choices people make. We would like to share our findings with farmers, policymakers and members of the public and find out what they think.

Healthy Eating And Lifestyle: After Bowel Cancer (HEAL:ABC)

Healthy Eating And Lifestyle: After Bowel Cancer (HEAL:ABC)

Debra Jones and Dr Sorrel Burden, Division of Nursing and Midwifery

A dietary advice resource pack for survivors of bowel cancer, produced in consultation with survivors.  The resource pack, known as Healthy Eating And Lifestyles: After Bowel Cancer (HEAL:ABC) will help support survivors in achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle, by providing advice, setting goals and allowing users to record their experience. The booklet will be supported by either group sessions, face to face meetings, over the phone, or by email

Reward and Food Addiction in First Episode Psychosis

Reward and Food Addiction in First Episode Psychosis

Dr Adrian Heald, School of Medical Sciences

Weight gain occurs in many patients with schizophrenia, a diagnosis often subsequently made in individuals who first present with psychosis (strange ideas and voices). Frequently weight gain occurs in the weeks and months after diagnosis and is related to an increase in appetite and food intake, with often double portions consumed and high calorie snacks taken between meals. Many of the drugs that are effective in treating psychosis are associated with changes in the way that people experience reward when they eat.  The purpose of this project is to increase our understanding of exactly why this happens in terms of an individual’s experience of food reward and reduced satiety – and therefore how we can help people with schizophrenia to keep their weight down. At this stage we are looking at the feasibility of applying currently available evaluation tools to people in this situation.

Improved tools for investigating the intestinal uptake [...]

Improved tools for investigating the intestinal uptake and subsequent immune and endocrine responses to novel dietary proteins

Professor Clare Mills - Division of Infection, Immunity and Respiratory Medicine, Manchester Institute of Biotechnology

There is an urgent need to identify alternative sustainable sources of dietary protein in order to meet the demands of the world’s growing population. Such new protein sources may modulate gut hormonal and mucosal functioning in an unpredictable manner, and have unintended metabolic and immunological effects, such as introducing novel food allergens into the diet. Effective in vitro gut models are lacking but would facilitate mechanistic studies on these effects and provide much needed tools to allow screening for beneficial/adverse effects of novel proteins. Pump-priming funding is required to undertake feasibility studies to obtain the preliminary data required to make credible joint multidisciplinary multi-centre applications for funding which will meet the emerging research and innovation priorities of UKRI. Industry collaboration is embedded from the outset, demonstrating the capacity of the consortium as a whole to work together and ensure effective and rapid adoption of new technology as set out in the Green paper on industrial strategy.