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UK: Agri-tech centers collaborate to explore nutrient circularity

Addressing challenges associated with improving nutrient circularity in farming systems was the theme of two cross-sector workshops held recently, hosted by UK Agri-Tech Centers CHAP and CIEL.

The workshops were part of CHAP’s New Innovations Programme, a collaborative exercise bringing together specialists and experienced industry voices to design a strategic business case to combat an identified market failure.

In this case, the topic was nutrient circularity and welcomed stakeholders from academia, technology, retail, and the farming and water industries. Considering the reuse, recycling, or composting of organic wastes, and the use of any biological material with benefits to circular nutrient cycles, the workshops applied the Government-endorsed Five Case Model methodology, which included exploring a problem statement and identifying potential solutions both as a long and shortlist.

Innovation Network Lead, Dr. Harry Langford, said: “Maximising the potential of nutrient circularity is critical in ensuring we reduce losses and increase recovery from all streams across agricultural production, ultimately benefitting not just the foods that we eat, but the health of our soils.

“We enjoyed working with CIEL and the wider stakeholders in this project, utilizing the expertise of each Centre to broaden the topic understanding and make it applicable to both the crop and livestock sectors.”

Following the workshops, a rigorous Economic Impact Assessment was conducted to identify a ‘preferred way forward’ and develop the final business case. It is hoped funding will then be secured to deliver the solution.

Head of Innovation at CIEL, Dr. Mark Young, said: “Agricultural ecosystem health is critical for sustainable production of food. Agriculture has become diversified and specialized, often at the environment’s expense.

“This work has highlighted both the need and the opportunity to reintegrate farm production systems to reduce reliance on artificial inputs and to reduce nutrient losses.

“CHAP and CIEL are an ideal match in closing the nutrient circularity loop through providing evidence that will support sustainable agricultural systems for the future.”

The full business case for this round of the New Innovations Programme has now been completed and will be revealed later this year.

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