New Knowledge and Innovation Facilitator bringing technology into the field

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Laura Bouvet, Knowledge and Innovation FacilitatorLaura Bouvet has been appointed Knowledge and Innovation Facilitator for Agri-Tech East and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB); the first time the two organisations have collaborated in this way.

As part of the new jointly funded role, Laura will support a number of innovation projects with growers – drawing on her extensive knowledge of plant pathology, genomics and advanced breeding.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, comments: “We have seen significant appetite from farmers and growers to be involved in the direction and implementation of trials of new technologies. We are looking to expand our involvement in this area.

“Laura brings the latest knowledge of plant pathology, genomics and advanced breeding with a hands-on enthusiasm for working in the field. We think this combination will be appreciated by our members and allow us to take forward a number of projects we have been discussing.”

Richard Laverick, Chief Technical Officer of AHDB, agrees: “Laura Bouvet’s appointment is a significant partnership for AHDB. We are working closely with Agri-Tech East to co-fund this post. It represents a very practical example of the two organisations working together to deliver more effective support for the industry and to ensure innovation and new practice is communicated effectively to a wide audience. With this aim in mind Laura will also support our new national Arable knowledge exchange team.”

Laura is currently finalising her PhD at the Genetics & Breeding Department of NIAB and is affiliated to the University of Cambridge.

Her PhD project focused on the genetics of wheat yellow rust resistance. She worked with the UK wheat MAGIC population, one of the latest tools available in crop breeding for the precise dissection of complex traits of interest, such as disease resistance. Her work on plant pathology has involved significant networking with growers and seed breeders.

She says: “I have a strong interest in plant science and how it can contribute practically to tackling challenges faced by agriculture. During my postgraduate training, I have had the opportunity to work on different research and technology transfer projects where interactions with end-users have been crucial.

“In this new role, I am looking forward to facilitating the implementation of agricultural innovations and establish strong connections with farmers and growers.”

For Agri-Tech East, Laura will be supporting and directing a number of farmer-led research projects. The organisation is currently coordinating an Innovative Farmer Field Lab looking at the best way to use digestate (a product of anaerobic digestion) as a fertiliser.

Her knowledge will be highly beneficial for her work with AHDB, which will focus on its Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR) facility, which provides controlled environment facilities for research into optimum crop storage conditions.

Sprout suppression in potatoes is an area of particular interest for growers.

Dr Rob Clayton, AHDB Strategy Director for Potatoes, says: “This is a crucial time for Laura Bouvet to join the SBCSR team to help address the immediate challenges facing our growers and store managers.

“We already know some of our stores use three times more energy than others and it’s compromising productivity and an individual’s bottom line.

“With industry introducing higher yielding thinner skinned varieties, it means that attention to detail on storage issues needs to be cranked up. And finally, keeping the sector tuned into alternative sprout suppression choices for the future is vital.”

In June the Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility will play host to an Agri-Tech East Pollinator event to explore a number of new innovations being used to help maintain the quality and integrity of the crop post-harvest, for short and long-term storage. ‘Post-Harvest Technologies – Innovations For Keeping Crops Clean, Cool and (High) Quality’ will take place on 20 June 2018 at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, East Bank, Sutton Bridge, Spalding, PE12 9YD. Find out more on our events page.

If you are interested in getting involved in farm trials do get in touch.

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