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iPotato: Using smart technologies to spot internal defects in potato

Lancaster Environment Centre

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Dr M McAinsh No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Damaged crops cost the UK potato industry over £200 per hectare. Although disease contributes to crop losses, internal tuber defects that are undetectable from the outside (e.g. Black Heart, Hollow Heart, etc.) also contribute significantly. The development of non-destructive methods for detecting internal defects in intact tubers is therefore essential to minimize the reduction in productivity and associated costs to the industry caused by such defects.
In this project, you will work with one of the UK’s largest potato producers, Branston Ltd, and their agritech business B-hive Innovations, to investigate the use of smart technologies for the early detection of internal defects in intact tubers. You will combine laboratory experiments with observations made at key points in the supply chain enabling you to gain valuable skills in biospectroscopy and chemometrics, plant hormone analysis and RNA sequencing. You will also learn about innovation and knowledge exchange within the potato sector.
ncluding tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, and as a tool for the repurposing of crops in order to reduce waste in the food supply chain.
This funded project forms part of a BBSRC-funded Waitrose Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) between the Waitrose Partnership, their international food production and supply companies, Lancaster University, the University of Reading, University of Warwick and Rothamsted Research. Between 2017 and 2023, the CTP will deliver studentships on the themes of sustainable crop production, sustainable soil and water, biodiversity and ecosystem services in agriculture. This project is based at Lancaster University.

Funding Notes

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in the Natural Sciences, such as Biology, Plant Science, Soil Science or Agriculture Biology.


Full studentships (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£15009 2019/2020 tax-free) for 4 years for UK/EU students subject to eligibility criteria. Unfortunately, studentships are not available to non-UK/EU applicants.
For further details please contact Dr Martin McAinsh: or for application queries contact Roz Wareing, .
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