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Protecting our planet - environmental challenges

It’s been a glorious summer but the weather is having a serious impact upon crops and livestock, and calamities such as droughts, moorland fires and flooding, have been rife. But is this a passing phase or a hint of what is to come?

If we look at food waste statistics here, the problem gets no better. Shockingly, each year in the UK, 18 million tonnes of food end up going into landfill.

Furthermore, global carbon tax in isolation could “….exacerbate food insecurity by 2050.” A new  study shows that putting in place a worldwide tax on greenhouse tax emissions could have a bigger negative impact on hunger; creating a much larger issue than one of climate change.


The media’s take on the situation

The media fuels these concerns in recent news articles published during July and August of this year:

  • The Independent reported that due to the UK heatwave, grass had stopped growing, crops were ripening too soon and animals were having to be fed winter food supplies during the summer.
  • At the same time, the Guardian took a look at the long-term trend of rising global temperatures, warning that this is just the start of what is to come so why isn’t the government taking more notice?
  • Nature Partner Journals (NPJ) published an article telling us that: “We need to feed an estimated population in excess of 9 billion by 2050 with diminishing natural resources, whilst ensuring the health of people and the planet.”
  • BBSRC went on to look at plant science and how plants, crops and trees are: “….fundamental to our food, environment, economy and social wellbeing.” Their infographic illustrates some amazing facts about the plant life on our planet.

The YES alumni are very aware of these current issues and have developed their own inventive concepts

BeEco (University of Cambridge) presented a product that safely and effectively removes the Varroa mite which plagues honey bees. The remedy utilises a novel chemoattractant compound to lure the parasites away from the host.

EnviroGrow (Rothamsted Research) developed a biodegradable scaffold matrix used to encapsulate microbial inoculum for additions to soil.

FruitFULL (University of Leeds) used an ethylene inhibitor in a fruit coating to delay senescence and in turn reduce post-harvest losses of fresh fruit products.

Hygrow (University of Nottingham) developed a chemical that is sprayed onto the crop before a drought to close the stomata early, retaining water and increasing the harvest yield.

MiraeTech (Rothamsted Research) introduced a novel delivery system that provides an efficient, sustainable and cost-effective method for the application of phosphorus fertilizer.

PhytoSystems (University of Warwick) used hyperspectral imaging to create proprietary software to identify specific diseases and nutrient deficiencies in tree crops before symptoms strike.

What’s your innovative idea for #YES18?

For the Plant, Microbial and Environmental workshop hosted at Syngenta, remember your challenges are as follows: 

  • Improving biodiversity in a farmed landscape
  • More effective disease management
  • Reducing usage of water, fertilisers, chemical inputs
  • Sustainable food production
  • More effective pest control
  • Sustainable liquid fuel production
  • Technologies transferable to smallholder farmers

Whatever amazing ideas you have for #ProtectOurPlanet, we want to hear about them.


Young Entrepreneurs Scheme

  • Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Nottingham University Business School
  • Jubilee Campus
  • Nottingham, NG8 1BB