SENRGY staff are active in the following areas of research;
Crop and Forest Science
Crop genetics and participatory research approaches to crop breeding and agronomy are our main themes, and our research has high impact on the livelihoods of farmers.
Crop genetics and breeding. We have a long record of breeding crops tolerant of abiotic stresses and resistant to diseases. We have recently worked on the theory of marker-assisted breeding and its application to increase drought resistance in rice, salt tolerance in wheat and disease resistance in pearl millet. We have investigated the genetic control of a wide range of individual tree wood and growth traits, and the negative correlation between wood density and growth in tree populations. This is providing the basis for improvement of wood properties by selection. We have extended our genetics research to work on Phytophthora infestans and poultry.
We have pioneered 'Participatory varietal selection' and 'Highly client-oriented breeding', leading to increased on-farm varietal diversity and improved breeding programmes producing more drought-tolerant rice, maize and pearl millet varieties giving higher, more stable yields. Our research now aims to optimise the uptake of agricultural research outputs and assess the impact of participatory research on livelihoods.
Sustainable high-quality production systems. We have developed, tested and promoted on-farm seed priming. We found that it is a low-cost, low-risk intervention that resource-poor farmers in marginal environments can easily adopt, which improves establishment, nutrient-use efficiency, growth and yield in a range of crops. In temperate agriculture we have researched the impact of climate change on growth and yield of wheat and researched the nutrition of livestock.
We also have a well-established programme of research on tropical multipurpose and undomesticated tree species. This has determined the relative contribution of trees and crops to soil carbon in a parkland system, and currently focuses on improving the management and utilisation of indigenous African fruit-tree species
Our research on wood science focuses on resistance to fungal decay, using novel chemical wood-modification agents to produce decay-resistant, but biocide-free (thus recyclable), wood.