Sustainable Agriculture Research & Innovation Club (SARIC)

SARIC logo

The Sustainable Agriculture Research & Innovation Club (SARIC) is a joint NERC and Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) initiative to support innovative projects that will provide solutions to key challenges affecting the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of the UK crop and livestock sectors.

Approximately £10 million of funding is available through the five year partnership between BBSRC, NERC and a consortium of leading companies to address two key challenges identified by industry:

  • Resilient and robust crop and livestock production systems.
  • Predictive capabilities for sustainable agriculture.

Funding for these areas is split into two streams:

  • Research grants, providing new knowledge and data.
  • Research translation grants developing tools and products from existing data.

The aims of SARIC are to:

  1. Support high-quality, innovative, strategic research within UK universities and institutes to address water and nutrient- related challenges in sustainable agricultural systems. SARIC will also support the translation of research data and knowledge into new tools, technologies and other outcomes that create tangible economic or societal benefits.

  2. Ensure the exchange of knowledge between the academic science base and industry through the support of effective networking between academic groups and companies involved in SARIC.

  3. Bring together and strengthen the environmental and biological sciences research communities in order to build underpinning capacity to meet the long-term needs of industry through interdisciplinary research, the provision of training, and research translation.

Sustainable Agriculture Research & Innovation Club (SARIC) Impact Summary Booklet 2019

6 Jun 2019

NERC and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council have recently published a refreshed SARIC Impact Summary for 2019.

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A rapidly increasing global population, climate change and intensified pressure upon vital resources are collectively threatening global food security. Consequently, there is an urgent need for research, and the translation of research, to support the understanding, development and management of sustainable agricultural systems. The Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and NERC, as contributors to the UK Global Food Security programme, are responding by working in collaboration with industry to bring the UK biological and environmental research base together to exploit knowledge, data and expertise to address the barriers to sustainable and increased agricultural production.

Consultations have been conducted with industry, trade associations, levy boards, policymakers and academia to inform BBSRC and NERC where investment would make a significant difference to the UK agriculture sector. These consultations identified water and nutrient-related topics as areas where there is a need for pre- competitive, innovative projects aimed at integrating research outcomes from different sectors and across relevant food production systems.

SARIC has 12 industry members who contribute to funding research and take part in directing the club's activities.

  • AHDB logoAgriculture & Horticulture Development Board
  • Anglian Water logoAnglian Water
  • Associated British Agriculture logoAssociated British Agriculture
  • Barworth logoBarworth Agriculture Ltd
  • Bayer logoBayer CropScience
  • British Beet Research Organisation logoBritish Beet Research Organisation
  • Cawood Scientific logoCawood Scientific
  • Welsh Water logoDŵr Cymru (Welsh Water)
  • Elsoms Seeds logoElsoms Seeds
  • Environment Systems logoEnvironment Systems
  • Monsanto logoMonsanto
  • Syngenta logoSyngenta

Resilient and robust crop and livestock production systems

The first challenge aims to increase resilience to changes in resource quality, quantity and availability as experienced during climatic stress. To do so requires the integration of the biological contribution of nutrient transformation and mobilisation at the plant/animal-soil-water interface with soil geochemistry, hydrology and crop biology.

A key focus within this challenge is the need to improve water and nutrient use efficiency of economically important UK crops. Research is required alongside the translation of existing and emergent knowledge to enable innovative solutions that inform land management practices and future technology development. Within this context there is a need to improve the capture, retention and recycling of water and nutrients in the farmed landscape. Systems-based approaches that inform land management options at a range of scales are encouraged.

Predictive capabilities for sustainable agriculture

The second challenge aims to provide decision makers with the ability to forecast, interpret and respond to potential threats to UK crop and livestock production systems, with a particular focus on water and nutrient related challenges. This will be achieved by harnessing the potential of observational technologies (for example earth observation, mapping, sensors) and analysis technologies (for example modelling, big data and analytics), understanding how, and under what circumstances, they can be employed, and by combining observations with models to improve predictive capability for sustainable agriculture in the UK at a range of scales.

This challenge supports the development of modelling approaches, new metrics and technologies that sustainably enhance the quality and yield of produce, lead to the development of novel or improved crop and livestock systems or facilitate the acceptance and uptake of sustainability measures in the field.

The challenge also addresses the need for tools, products and services that inform and de-risk the management of water and nutrient resources, to protect water and soil quality, and the future availability of resources. This could be achieved through adopting new learning, on-farm engagement, integration of research with real world agriculture practices and understanding drivers of behaviour.


2014 - 2019

Can I apply for a grant?

No, there are no current funding opportunities for this programme.


This programme has a budget of £10 million over five years through the partnership between BBSRC, NERC, ESRC and a consortium of leading companies.


Round 1 research grants (PDF, 261KB)

Round 1 research translation grants (PDF, 123KB)

Round 2 research grants (PDF, 124KB)

Round 2 research translation grants (PDF, 114KB)

Round 3 research translation call outcomes (PDF, 79KB)

Round 3 research call outcomes (PDF, 78KB)