Future of farming explored at the launch of new College network


Gloved hand holding a petri dish with a small plant in it

The Agri Futures Lab (AFL) launched with an all-day conference exploring ways to get the most food, fibre and fuel out of next-generation farming.

The AFL, which is one of Imperial College London’s newest multidisciplinary Networks of Excellence, aims to tackle the challenge of providing food and fuel for a growing global population in a sustainable way.

Dr Laura Barter (R) and Dr Rudiger Woscholski (L)
Dr Laura Barter (R) and Dr Rudiger Woscholski (L)

The AFL connects researchers, commercial partners and policymakers to bring cutting-edge science and innovation to the agricultural sciences, from pest control and crop yield to tackling issues with food supply chains and spoilage.

Opening the day, Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial, said: “I think that it is very exciting and important that Imperial College London show its leadership in the highly multidisciplinary and urgent challenge of feeding the world’s population.”

The conference programme was filled with 23 talks from Imperial staff and partners, including Sainsbury’s, BASF, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Successful partnerships were showcased, such as investigations into the limits of plant production with Rothamsted Research, and producing sustainable agro-chemicals with Syngenta.

Some Imperial spin-outs also discussed or displayed their inventions, including FreshCheck, a colour-changing spray for detecting bacterial contamination; Fungi Alert, an early-warning system for plant pathogens; and AnyWhereHPLC, a handheld chemical analyser for water, soil, and more.

Man with small bottles of samples talking to a man over a table
FreshCheck show off their wares

Dr Laura Barter, Co-Director of the Agri Futures Lab with Dr Rudiger Woscholski, said of the day: “It’s been great to have such a diverse audience, from all sectors of the agri sciences. It’s wonderful that there are people here demonstrating how collaborations are already working, and there are people looking to set up new partnerships.”

As well as encouraging collaboration and innovation through meetings, partnerships and hackathons, the AFL runs training for students, with new Masters courses and a range of PhD training programmes.


Hayley Dunning

Hayley Dunning
Communications Division

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 2412
Email: h.dunning@imperial.ac.uk

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Global-challenges-Natural-world, Strategy-collaboration, Industry, Energy, Strategy-multidisciplinary-research, Food-security, 4IR
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