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Manchester Environmental Research Institute

Corn in a field

Food and agriculture

The population is rapidly increasing, and so too is our need for food. But, with climate change, unpredictable water supplies and declining soil health, meeting these needs is a challenge.

Key researchers

N8 AgriFood is a consortium of eight universities that combine their research expertise in agri-food resilience to tackle the challenge of food security regionally, nationally and internationally.

We have a number of N8 AgriFood colleagues based here at The University of Manchester and they work across the faculties and the agri-food sector. We work with N8 AgriFood to provide a gateway to their knowledge and expertise.  

Find out more about N8 AgriFood in Manchester on their website.

Our key areas:

Sustainable food production

The world needs to maintain or increase the current food production capacity but in a way where the ecosystem and the social services agricultural landscapes provide are preserved. As food production increases the threat of climate change and land and water degradation does too and this theme is looking at how these challenges can be met in a sustainable way.

The University of Manchester has expertise in the following areas:

  • Precision agriculture – designing technologies such as sensors, electronics, and power systems to supply water and fertilizers to improve global farming
  • Plant science – researching methods to identify and treat plant diseases at an early stage resulting in increases in food productivity and the strategies needed to combat future disease stresses
  • Soil function – work is ongoing to understand the role of interactions between plant and soil communities to improve soil health and productivity
  • Genomics – developing new generations of plants to improve agricultural productivity and plant stress tolerance
  • Crop modelling – studying crop growth and development for a variety of soil conditions, management regimes and climatic conditions

Resilient supply chains

This sub-theme looks at how food supply systems can be adapted so they’re more resilient and efficient while still delivering better nutrition and improving public health. Achieving this lies in the balance of economic growth, resource demand, environmental sustainability and public health.

The University of Manchester has expertise in the following areas:

  • Food supply networks - Understanding the networks of production and supply through to consumption and nutrition and developing innovative practices to make them more resilient and efficient
  • Food production – making food production practices more cost and energy efficient and sustainable by looking at the whole supply chain

Improved consumption and health

By looking at the individual behaviour of consumers and the social practices and cognitive, psychological and situational factors behind these behaviours, we can develop innovations to provide sufficient, safe and nutritious food while lowering the burden of food production and distribution on the natural environment.

The University of Manchester has expertise in the following areas:

  • Climate interactions – researching the interactions of the different influences on climate to gain a greater understanding of the future climate and its impact on consumption
  • Regulation and policy in food production and consumption – evaluating consumption habits and developing policies that influence consumer behaviour
  • Human diet – researching how nutrients are used and processed by the human body and developing processes to maximise nutrient extraction
  • Food safety – developing a greater understanding of how people respond to allergens, how negative reactions can be prevented and resilience developed