Eco-friendly crop protection planned

Partnership will boost Lancaster research lab

By Sophie Barnett A Lancashire agrochemical company and the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) have forged a research partnership in a bid to develop techniques to improve crops in an environmentally friendly way. The collaboration aims to reduce damage to the planet caused by intensive agriculture. Preston-based Plant Impact develops and manufactures agrochemicals using naturally occurring substances. Working with LEC, one of the largest environmental research centres in Europe, the company will have access to some of the UK’s top scientists working in this field. According to the two companies, the research partnership has the potential to dramatically improve crop yields and crop quality in global food production systems. The first phase of the research will involve an analysis of how one of Plant Impact’s crop protection products functions. This knowledge will then be used to develop the next generation of products. LEC, based at Lancaster University, has a dedicated plant sciences team and is forging research partnerships with a range of companies from industries deemed essential to global sustainability — including the horticulture, agriculture, energy, water and chemicals industries. Plant Impact will eventually be based in the new £8.4m extension to LEC, which will include accommodation for companies wishing to benefit from Lancaster University’s expertise. The development has been paid for using £3.5m of external funds from the European Regional Development Fund and the North West Regional Development Agency, in addition to the university funding. Plant Impact chief executive Peter Blezard said: “Rapidly growing global populations will mean food production wil have to become more efficient. We can help fulfil these needs — we can boost yields with minimal environmental impact.”

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