- Study & Training
- About Us
Sustainable development can only be achieved by improving the livelihoods of people without placing additional burdens on future generations. Thus, within agrarian communities, human development, biodiversity and the environment are arguably more important than economic growth. In particular it means improving the quality of life for communities dependent on agriculture. The Agriculture, Health and Environment Department works to develop and disseminate new technologies and knowledge that will benefit agricultural producers by controlling arthropod pests, weeds, diseases and their vectors in sustainable, affordable and environmentally acceptable ways.
The department recognises that in order for farming communities to benefit from technical advances they need to be developed in partnership with stakeholders. While understanding the needs of resource-poor farming communities is paramount in order to enable them to benefit from new knowledge or packages of technologies, AHE department researchers also engage with commercial companies, government agencies and policy makers during the research process to ensure that the knowledge or technology under-development can be manufactured and promoted in an agro-ecologically sensitive and sustainable manner.
The productivity of farming communities is dependent to a large extent on the health of workers and their animals. In tropical rural areas debilitating diseases are primarily transmitted by insect and rodent vectors and their control can provide sustainable means of disease management. NRI research on vector-borne diseases of livestock and humans is led by AHE department members who work with rural communities on a wide range of species notably mosquitoes, tsetse, bed bugs and rats, to better understand their ecology and behaviour in order to develop and implement environmentally acceptable and cost-effective interventions.
AHE department members conduct research in six main areas; plant diseases; chemical ecology and plant biochemistry; agro-ecology and insect behaviour; biologically-based crop protection; vector-borne diseases of animals and humans and ecosystem services. However, depending on the needs of projects, researchers may well be drawn from other disciplines, and indeed institutes, to achieve objectives as described under the examples given in research disciplines, for example, entomology, molecular diagnostics, migrant pests and pest systems modelling. The AHE department currently comprises 28 researchers leading over 50 donor-funded projects.
The extensive research and consultancy experience of AHE department members provides a rich knowledge base from which to contribute to the University's learning programmes. The department leads the MSc in Natural Resources (further information: Dr Peter Burt) and has a vibrant postgraduate programme with over 30 PhD students and four research fellows, Dr Sarah Arnold, Dr Paul Douglas and Iñaki Tirados working on research projects funded by BBSRC, DEFRA, NRI’s RAE income and the Gates Foundation.
Our work is focussed on several key NRI programmes
Examples of our work
The department undertakes research consultancy and training in the following areas. Agriculture, entomology, crop protection, integrated pest management, plant chemistry, plant pathology, plant quarantine, weed science, pest and disease modelling, chemical ecology, plant virology, molecular biology, insect pathology, vector ecology and entomology, rodent control, training and capacity building.
- Waller, J. M., Bigger, M. and Hillocks, R. J. (2007) Coffee Pests, Diseases and their Control. CABInternational, Wallingford, UK, 430 pp.
- Hillocks, R.J., 2009. GM cotton for Africa. Outlook on AGRICULTURE, 38(4), pp.311-316.