Sustainable Agriculture


One of the primary challenges for the growing human population is how to create increasing amounts of high-quality food without depleting the world of its natural resources. Research in our group focuses on methods for both the enhancement of natural ecosystems within and around agricultural landscapes, and the function of those ecosystems in enhancing agricultural productivity. Key research areas include the study of the abundance, diversity and function of key insect groups, such as pollinators and biocontrol agents that provide valuable services ($220bn per year globally, in the case of pollinators) to global food production. A particular area of focus is the role of certain environmental chemicals, such as neonicotinoids, in pollinator declines. A second area of work focuses on the management of agricultural landscapes to enhance productivity through ecological restoration.

In this area of research, our academics are developing a new understanding of how water, soil, and biodiversity interact in agricultural fields to support not only the growing of staple food crops but also healthy local populations of birds and other taxa. A further area of work involves the study of the ecological interactions that take place within soils between plants and other organisms. Mutualistic relationships between plants and fungi are ancient, and EERG researchers are developing our understanding of those relationships so that fundamental knowledge can be translated into agricultural innovation.

Key researchers


Professor Tim Benton
Professor of Population Ecology; UK Champion for Global Food Security

Dr Tom Bennett
Associate Professor of Plant Signalling and Development

Dr Laura Dixon 
Lecturer in Plant Sciences

Dr Elizabeth Duncan
Associate Professor of Zoology

Professor Frank Dunshea
Professor of Animal Growth Development

Dr Henry Greathead
Lecturer in Biology

Dr Christopher Hassall
Associate Professor of Biology

Professor Stephan Kepinski

Professor Bill Kunin
Professor of Ecology

Dr Katie McDermott
Lecturer in Sustainable Livestock Production

Dr Steven Sait
Reader in Ecology

Dr Amy Taylor
Lecturer in Animal Health and Nutrition

Professor Peter Urwin
Professor of Plant Nematology

Research projects

o Helping apple growers to conserve their bees – Bill Kunin’s research focuses on the conservation of, and ecosystem services provided by, pollinating insects. A current research project, “valuing orchard and integrated crop ecosystem services” (VOICES), is helping South African apple growers to enhance their yield by protecting their local pollinators.