Current Live Projects

LIAT Banner

The University of Lincoln has a proud track record of developing and delivering solutions for organisations in the farming and food manufacturing sectors and our partnerships with industry and businesses are central to our research agenda. With strong industry links and academic partnership, our multidisciplinary research and practical problem solving is expanding quickly as the list below demonstrates. 

Horizon 2020 - Senior Lecturer Isobel Wright and Research Assistant Jenny Rowbottom are working closely with ADAS and Anglian Water to improve drinking water quality across Lincolnshire.

The European Commission is investing almost 10 million euros from its research and innovation budget under the Horizon 2020 programme in two projects, FAIRWAY and WaterProtect.

These projects aim to deliver new solutions, proven good practices and innovative governance models to protect drinking water resources from nutrient and pesticide pollution. The University of Lincoln is in partnership with Anglian Water and ADAS as part of FAIRWAY’s H2020 programme to improve water quality across Lincolnshire.

Safe drinking water is vital for human health and diffuse pollution of nitrogen and pesticides from agriculture is the main obstacle to meet drinking water quality targets. FAIRWAY is looking to review approaches for protection of drinking water resources against pollution by pesticides and nitrate, and to identify and further develop innovative measures and governance approaches for a more effective drinking water protection. Under these objectives, FAIRWAY is running a series of projects.

Issues with water quality in the Anglian region predominantly relate to high nitrate concentrations and pesticide contamination of surface waters. Anglian Water, the largest of 10 treatment and water supply companies in the UK, supplying drinking water to 4.2 million customers across England and Wales, are collaborating with the University of Lincoln and ADAS to improve drinking water quality by communicating with farmers and land managers in water catchment areas.

Under the FAIRWAY projects, Anglian Water is working to improve drinking water quality using three approaches to encourage behavioural change in farmers, reducing on-farm pesticide usage, with an emphasis on metaldehyde.

  1. Network engagement by Anglian Water catchment advisors with farmers and agronomist.
  2. An Ecosystem services approach is being applied, where farmers are subsidised to use an alternative product to replace metaldehyde, which can be more easily removed in the drinking water treatment process.
  3. The third catchment has had minimal intervention from Anglian Water; the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) is developing innovative approaches for farmer engagement in this catchment, which will be monitored and compared to other modes of farmer engagement.

LIAT are using surveys and interviews with farmers in the three study areas, to gather data around farmers’ current pesticide handling behaviour and practices, business characteristics, factors influencing practices and cost-effectiveness as well as wider effects.  

The study will report on critical factors in developing an intervention programme for long-term change.

Waterprotect LogoFairway Logo 

A 24-month project which hopes to tackle the high cost of retail refrigeration has been led by a consortium comprising the University of Lincoln UK, Tesco Stores Ltd, the Grimsby Institute and Intelligent Management Systems Ltd. The full-scale project is called the Development of Dynamic Energy Control Mechanisms for Food Retailing Refrigeration Systems.

The cost of retail refrigeration totals more than 14% of the UK’s electricity usage and also represents roughly a third of a typical food and drink retailer’s energy cost. Supermarkets across the nation currently utilise thousands of refrigeration units, not only to keep our food and drink chilled, but also to prolong the shelf life of produce and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

The research demonstrates the largest Demand Side Response (DSR) project to food retailing networks using the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. In the video below, Director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT), Professor Simon Pearson, discusses how the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) helped identify funding through an Innovate UK competition.


Agriculture in the coastal regions of Northern Europe is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels, saline intrusion of groundwater and greater pressures on our freshwater supplies have led to concerns about the impact of salt deposition on farmland soils.

SalFar (saline farming), is a project which aims to mitigate the potential threats of salinization through a collaboration of climate experts, researchers, educators, farmers, entrepreneurs and policy makers. In order to accomplish this, the project will conduct research on the salt tolerance of crops, demonstrating alternative methods of farming under saline conditions and creating new business opportunities for farmers, food producers and entrepreneurs.

The project is co-funded by the European Union Interreg programme for the North Sea Region and involves partners from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the UK.

The University of Lincoln, SalFar’s UK partner, is taking a multidisciplinary approach to the project. The Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) have joined forces with the School of Geography and Lincoln International Business School to model the current and future agricultural risks of salinisation, trial salt tolerant crops, and explore the business case for saline agriculture.

More information can be found online.

Contact: Dr Iain Gould

All other live projects at the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology

  • Innovate UK - Development of autonomous mushroom picking robot
  • The Horticultural Development Council – Genetic and environmental interaction poinsettia production and shelf life.
  • IT as a Utility Network – Feasibility of the IoT for domestic refrigerators, food safety and waste
  • Innovate UK – Autonomous robots to support fruit picking
  • Berry Gardens Ltd – The potential for automation in the soft fruit industry
  • BOC Ltd – Rapid surface chilling of chickens to reduce campylobacter
  • Innovate UK / Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council – Third generation polyethylene greenhouse cladding materials
  • Sharp Laboratories of Europe Ltd – Beta testing of novel optical nitrate sensor for use in hydroponic cultivation systems
  • Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board – Optimised greenhouse light environments, modelling whole plant responses to spectral quality
  • Innovate UK – The development of dynamic energy control mechanisms for food retailing refrigeration systems
  • Science and Technologies Facilities Council – Synthesis of remote sensing and novel ground truth sensors to develop high resolution soil moisture forecasts in China and UK.
  • Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board – Development and demonstration of an automated selective broccoli harvester
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council/ Innovate UK – 3D vision assisted robotic harvesting of broccoli
  • Innovate UK – Small holder supply chain development, using UK science and technology to improve rural livelihoods.
  • Innovate UK – Whole supply chain hurdle approach to control Campylobacter
  • Innovate UK – 3D vision based crop- weed discrimination for automated weeding operations.
  • James Findlay Ltd – Automation system in production and quality control for cut flowers presentation packs
  • Innovate UK – The development of a dynamic energy control system for food retailing refrigeration systems
  • Innovate UK/ Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Spark Award – Laser based sensing technology for improved control of spraying booms for agricultural spraying vehicles
  • Technology Strategy Board - Creating new multi-purpose imaging technology to automate quality inspection tasks in food processing and packaging
  • Environment Agency - The Impact of field drainage in Lincolnshire
  • University of Lincoln – Saline RIF project. The Impact of flood events on coastal economies.
  • Environment Agency - Collaboration on diffuse of rural pollution, flood attenuation measures
  • Soil Health Project in Kenya - Soil Health Research Partnership
tel: +44 (0)1522 886644