Rapid Evidence Synthesis Training

The N8 AgriFood Food Systems Policy Hub delivered a programme of Rapid Evidence Synthesis Training, inviting early career researchers and doctoral students from across the N8 Universities to apply for a place on this new model of training to learn how to synthesis their research for policy engagement.

The training was tailored to match research needs raised by key contacts in food related Government departments and industry. Below are the outputs from the Rapid Evidence Synthesis Training including policy briefs and papers which have been published to date. The outputs are categorised into the subject areas put forward by our contacts; Gene Editing, Food Insecurity, Carbon Storage, Net Zero implications on Biodiversity, Water Quality and Flooding, Global Environmental Footprinting, Consumer Behaviour, Innovative Technology.

The training was delivered through a collaboration between the University of Leeds, Newcastle University and the N8 AgriFood Programme, and was supported by Research England QR-SPF funds from the University of Leeds and the University of York.

Gene editing

Towards greater transparency: Digital opportunities to promote traceability in genetic engineering

Natalie Partridge from Newcastle University answers the question – Do public perceptions of novel genetic engineering techniques differ from perceptions of GM? In this Policy Brief she sets out recommendations for policy to improve transparency and traceability in genetic engineering.

Download the Policy Brief

Genetically engineered food crop resistance to pests
typically enhances yields in sub-Saharan Africa

David Rapley from The University of Sheffield produced a Policy Brief based on his research investigating the yield implications of genetically engineered (GE) food crop resistance to pests and diseases under infestation in confined field trial and farm settings across sub Saharan Africa.

Download the Policy Brief

Food Insecurity

Inadequate data hampers attempts to understand and tackle food insecurity in the UK

Dr Neil Boyle from the University of Leeds and Dr Maddy Power from the University of York set out to answer the question – Have UK households become more or less food insecure since 2005? They produced a Policy Brief with policy recommendations focusing on data collection. Their paper has been published in the N8 AgriFood collection on Emerald Open Research.

Download the Policy Brief
Read the Paper

Urban agriculture has potential to
provide food security benefits in the UK

Bethan Mead from the University of Liverpool conducted a rapid evidence review to assess urban agriculture’s contribution to food security. Her subsequent Policy Brief outlines a number of recommendations to support urban agriculture initiatives at community and national levels.

Download the Policy Brief

Carbon Storage

Solar parks could become significant carbon stores

Fabio Carvalho from Lancaster University investigates the question – Which grassland management practices have the greatest potential to ensure UK solar parks can sequester as much carbon as possible? His Policy Brief outlines a number of recommendations for post-Brexit agricultural policy.

Download the Policy Brief

Implication of Net Zero on Biodiversity

Hedgerow planting to reach net zero targets could
enhance farmland biodiversity

Megan Tresise from the University of Leeds generated a Policy Brief following a rapid review of arable farmland literature that analysed the impacts of hedgerow planting and enhancement (i.e. management) on biodiversity abundance and richness measures. She also published her paper in the N8 AgriFood collection on Emerald Open Research.

Download the Policy Brief
Read the Paper

Water Quality and Flooding

Frame communication about Natural Flood Management around its multiple benefits, not just flood risk mitigation

Marie Ferre from the University of Leeds produced a Policy Brief reporting the evidence synthesis she carried out which confirms Natural Food Management delivers a range of other ecosystem services including carbon storage, water quality and amenities.

Download the Policy Brief

Global Environmental Footprinting

Which commodities imported to the UK have the
highest risk of overseas deforestation impacts?

Amy Molotoks from the University of York produced a Policy Brief,  generated from a rapid review of both peer-reviewed and grey literature, which analysed forest-risk commodities with a high deforestation risk and their impact on the environment. She also wrote a paper based on her work which has been published in the N8 AgriFood collection on Emerald Open Research.

Download the Policy Brief
Read the Paper

Consumer Behaviour

Overcoming psychological barriers to reducing meat consumption

Catherine Graves from the University of Leeds conducted a rapid evidence synthesis of published literature and found that habits were the biggest barrier to change and had the strongest influence on willingness to reduce meat consumption. Her resulting Policy Brief includes a number of actionable and tangible recommendations for policy based on this evidence. Catherine also wrote a paper based on her work which was published in Sustainability.

Download the Policy Brief
Read the Paper

Innovative Technology

Remote sensing could enable more evidence-based policy to monitor and manage tropical dryland forests

Ruusa-Magano David from Durham University produced a Policy Brief of her findings around the greater use of a wider range of Earth Observation products which could enable more evidence-based policy to prioritise sustainable use of forests, enabling the policy community to learn what works to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, to improve livelihoods in a changing climate.

Download the Policy Brief
Read the Paper


Understanding the role of phosphatase enzyme activity in phosphorous acquisition in agricultural settings

Victoria Janes-Barrett from the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University carried out a systematic review and subsequent meta-analysis of phosphatase activity in agricultural settings in response to phosphorus deficiency.

Read the Paper