2015 – 2013

Reports from recipients of Fellowships and Studentships


Improvement of ruminant feedstock quality by sequential fermentation with white-rot and anaerobic rumen fungi
Dr. Bhuvnesh Shrivastava (Department of Microbiology, University of Delhi South Campus, New Delhi, India)
The award of a Travelling Fellowship was to support a 6-month period based at IBERS, Aberystwyth University, in 2014-15, supervised by Dr. Gareth Wyn Griffith. Experiments were conducted using wheat straw fermented using wood-rotting fungi, and results reported in detail. Additional experience was also gained in other related areas and research techniques.

Comparative root growth of Festulolium and Lolium grasses and wheat lines with introgression from wild emmer
Natalie Plummer (School of Agriculture, Policy & Development, University of Reading)
The award of a student vacation bursary was made to support a 6-week period of research experience in summer 2015 under the supervision of Professor Peter Gregory at East Malling Research. The aim was to measure root growth of Festulolium grasses and wheat lines with introgression from wild emmer which may increase the resilience of grass and wheat crops to abiotic stress. Although results of both the grass and wheat experiments were not significant at p > 0.05, the study found evidence that new Festulolium grasses and wheat lines with introgression from wild emmer have more root length at depth.


Adapting smallholder dairy production to climate change: findings from Orissa, India
Luke York (Australia)
The award of a Travelling Fellowship was to support the costs of travel to the UK to work during 6 months in 2014 under Dr. C. Heffernan (University of Reading) on developing a simple deterministic model capable of investigating the impacts of climate change on smallholder dairy production within the resource-constrained environment of Orissa, India. The study considered a number of climate-adaptation strategies and reported that high levels of exotic animal genetics can benefit farmers when adaptation strategies are applied.

Testing the feasibility of predicting individual parasite intensities in sheep using GPS tracking and automated analysis of variations in their flocking behaviours
Kester Ratcliff (University of Bristol, UK)
The award of a graduate vacation bursary was made to support a 6-week period of supervised research in summer 2014 with Dr Eric Morgan and Christos Ioannou. The project involved the use of automatic tracking and analysis of behavioural indicators of parasite intensity, which could potentially be a cost-effective and more feasible method for frequent, widespread and ongoing use. This was a technically challenging project, outcomes of which have led to changes in the methodology.

The function of rumen microorganisms in terms of their effects on meat and milk production
Dr Lucy A. Akinmosin (Italy)
The award of a 4-month Fellowship in spring 2014 was made to build on an existing link and support the recipient’s research experience aimed at developing skills and furthering understanding of rumen bacteria in terms of sustainability of meat and milk production. The work was under the supervision of Dr Sharon Huws (IBERS, Aberystwyth University). Outcomes included contributions to two studies: (i) Perturbation of the forage attached rumen microbiome through addition of rumen protozoa increases plant fermentation, and (ii) Homoserine lactone based bacterial cell-cell communication within the rumen.

Understanding of how the rhizosphere fungus Trichoderma interacts with other soil organisms to generate a range of beneficial outcomes
Professor Murray Grant (University of Exeter, UK)
The award of a short-term (1 month) Travelling Fellowship in 2014 was to enable development of research collaborations with New Zealand in analytical approaches around unravelling the molecular basis of the legume-Lolium-Trichoderma-Rhizobium interaction in the roots of clover which results in enhanced clover nodulation and increased pasture productivity. This fellowship was linked to a reciprocal award to Dr Donald Otter, AgResearch New Zealand, to spend a month at the University of Exeter.


In-vitro methodology to predict methane emissions from ruminant livestock ingesting green forages
Dr Babita Bohra (World Agroforestry Centre, New Delhi, India)
The award of a Travelling Fellowship was to support a 6-month period based at The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen in 2013. The work undertaken on developing in-vitro methodology on methane emissions from forages contributed to improved skills in animal research problems and in developing recommendations for working with communities.

Strengthening Anglo-Australian collaboration in landscape management and food security research
Professor Simon Potts (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, UK)
The award of a Travelling Fellowship was to support a 3-month period in Australia, based at the University of Queensland and CSIRO, in late 2013. Outcomes included the development of a novel framework for managing landscapes for improved food security.

The effect of dietary factors on nitrogen-use efficiency and the relationship with feed utilisation with dairy productions systems
Dr David Barber (Agri-Science, Queensland, Australia)
The award of a Travelling Fellowship was to support a 2-month period with Prof C. Reynolds at the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, UK, in 2013. Outcomes included regression analyses based on a study database compiled from 14 long-term experiments.

Ensiling characteristics and aerobic stability of temperate grasses containing different concentrations of water-soluble carbohydrates
Dr Abner A. Rodríguez-Carías (Department of Animal Science, University of Puerto Rico)
This was a short-term Travelling Fellowship to support a period at IBERS, Aberystwyth University, UK, in 2013, to enable the applicant to carry out experiments and learn new experimental techniques on degradability of ensiled grasses.

Responses of foliage arthropod fauna to different management strategies
Dr Rocío Rosa García (Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario, Asturias, Spain)
The award of a Travelling Fellowship was to support a 2-month period at IBERS, Aberystwyth University, UK, in 2013, working with Dr Mariecia Fraser on biodiversity in upland grassland. The study included assessments on arthropod fauna and made use of existing long-term plots set up to test effects of management on botanical diversity and vegetation dynamics.

A GIS assessment of pasture species and their relationships with soil physical, chemical and management factors on the North Wyke Farm Platform
Dr Katherine Tozer (AgResearch, Ruakura New Zealand)
The award of Travelling Fellowship was to provide partial support (co-funded by the Trimble Foundation) for a short-term research project at Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, UK, with Mr Robert Orr and colleagues in 2013. Outcomes included learning new research approaches and methods; in particular, a method to assess botanical composition in pastures and an approach for assessing long-term changes in pasture botanical composition and other factors, using a GIS grid-based sampling.

The selenium status of Welsh sheep: spatial distribution and associations with stream sediments and soil geochemical data
Ms Alice Court (Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University)
The award of a Student Bursary (under the Trust’s undergraduate / recent graduate awards scheme) was to provide support for a research project carried out in summer 2013, prior to commencing a Master’s degree. The main aim was to build an effective model that would (a) predict the Se status of sheep-grazing pastures in Wales, and (b) identify field sites for future research where the soil-plant-animal and soil-animal pathways of Se can be investigated. Outcomes included gaining new research skills, the use of ArcGIS software and new statistics techniques.