The presentation at Buckingham Palace
The Queen has presented an award at Buckingham Palace for Lancaster University’s world-class research into watersaving techniques for agriculture. Her Majesty presented the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education to Distinguished Professor Bill Davies, who led a team of plant biologists at the Lancaster Environment Centre in the development of the research.
It is the third time the University has received one of these prestigious awards.
The world-class research will help farmers in some of the driest regions of the world and help meet the challenge of feeding seven billion people against a background of climate change.
Researchers showed how the signals that roots in drying soil send to the shoots can help plants cope more successfully with drought and produce better yield. This new understanding of how plants react to stress has now been exploited with the agriculture industry by the group working in collaboration with researchers around the world. Water saving approaches to irrigation and to the management of crop production have resulted in significant water saving and better crop production in regions of the world which suffer water scarcity.
Lancaster science has been used to develop new systems to grow cereals in North China, grape vines and top fruit in Australia and in viticulture and vegetable production around the Mediterranean and in the USA. New water saving techniques have also been developed with the UK horticultural and agricultural industries. The Lancaster team has trained a large number of research biologists who work around the world on projects aimed at contributing to food security. The prize also recognises the team’s work with industry in passing on new knowledge through training programmes and partnerships run through the University’s specialist environmental business centre, the first of its kind in the UK.
Lancaster University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said: “The Lancaster Environment Centre is working at the forefront of science and is helping to provide real solutions to the challenges of climate change. We are absolutely delighted that this exceptional contribution has received such prestigious recognition."
This research also won the coveted Times Higher Research Project of the Year 2009.