School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Agricultural Production Systems

Agricultural Production Systems

Our research

We are harnessing natural sciences, data analytics and socio-economic sciences for agriculture, food security and rural development.

Food security and sustainability concerns

There is increasing concern about food security and the sustainability of current agricultural production globally. The statistics make for alarming reading.

  • To meet global food demands by 2050, agricultural production needs to increase by 60%.
  • Feeding 9 billion people requires more food in the next 40 years than produced in the past 10,000 years.
  • We are losing species at unprecedented rates. This reflects the pressures current farming practices place on the natural environment.

We desperately need a sustainable system of producing food. We have to address the food needs of the growing human population while:

  • limiting pressure on resources (energy, minerals and water)
  • minimising negative impacts on the environment
  • not bringing more land under cultivation

Our group aims to find solutions to these challenges. We do this through strategic and translational research into sustainable agriculture and food systems linked to healthy rural communities.

Our facilities

We perform research at a range of scales from the molecule to the farm, accessing first-class facilities including:

  • two commercial farms equipped to conduct cutting-edge science under real-world conditions in Northumberland
  • world class facilities on the university campus, for:
    • molecular biology
    • diagnostics
    • soil science
    • proteomics
    • analytical chemistry
We have fantastic facilities for the farming of beef and dairy cows at Cockle Park Farm.


We conduct our research into Agricultural Production Systems under three main themes.

Our partnerships

The research challenges in this area are significant. To address them, we developed partnerships to widen our research capacity and better realise impacts from research we undertake.

Institute for Agri-Food Research Innovations (IAFRI)

The Institute for Agri-Food Research Innovations (IAFRI) is a partnership with Fera Science Limited.

Fera is a translational science company working in the agri-food space, itself part of a joint ownership with UK Defra.

This partnership provides an interface which allows Fera to access pure and strategic research undertaken within the University.

It gives the University access to translate innovations to front line uses, for commercial and government customers.

Agritech centres

We are a founding partner in two of the four UK agritech centres. They resulted from a £90m investment by the UK government to meet challenges of sustainable agriculture in the UK.

As a result, Newcastle University leads on the several capital assets owned by the Centre for Crop Health and Production (CHAP) and the Centre for Innovation in Livestock (CIEL)


Our staff working within Agricultural Production Systems research are listed on this page.

Group Leader

Group Leader

Professor Neil Boonham
Chair of Applied Crop Science

Telephone: 07780825544


Group Staff

Dr Andrew Beard
DELT and Lecturer in Animal Production Science

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6923

Dr Ankush Prashar
Lecturer in Crop Science

Telephone: +44(0)191 208 5103

Gillian Butler
Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0) 166 183 0222 or (0)191 208 6656

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7428

Dr Paul Bilsborrow
Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6868

Professor Robert Edwards
Head of School - Institute Director, IAFRI

Telephone: 0191 208 6869

Simon Parker

Telephone: +44 191 2086928


Research Associates

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3792

Dr Leo Rempelos
Researcher in Crop Science and Agronomy

Telephone: +44 (0) 19120 86932

Dr Nawaporn Onkokesung
Research Associate

Telephone: 01912085391

PhD Students

Our PhD candidates work on a wide range of projects.

Stewart Brown
Exploring how selective herbicides reach target sites

Filipe de Jesus Colwell
Differences in potato varieties in various management practices

Caio Fernandes Zani
Soil quality response to agricultural land management practices

Yaiza Gutierrez Vazquez
Fungicide resistance in wheat crops

Gabriela Pingarron Cardenas
Safening and metabolic resistance in dicot crops and weeds

Jone Santín Azcona
Effect of cryptic viruses on abiotic stress in black-grass

Inés Vázquez-Iglesias
Rose viruses in the UK and rose cultivation