Reporter 405, 30 June 1997

The University at the Great Yorkshire Show: Harrogate 8, 9, 10 July

This year the School of Geography and the departments of Animal Physiology & Nutrition, Biology and Microbiology will be joining the Central Science Laboratory of MAFF, and departments from the universities of Hull and Newcastle upon Tyne to mount the Northern Universities exhibition of on-going research in Agriculture, Agricultural Sciences, Horticulture and Environmental Sciences at the Great Yorkshire Show to be held at the Showground, Harrogate on the 8th, 9th and 10th July. Because of the success of the exhibition since its inception three years ago the Yorkshire Agricultural Society has made available a permanent building for the exhibits at the show and this will be opened by the new Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Elliot Morley on the 8th July at about 12.05 pm. Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Watson will be representing the University and will be joined by PVCs from the Universities of Hull and Newcastle and the Chief Executive of the Central Science Laboratory. These exhibits are completely supported financially by the Society and some of the research being exhibited is partially funded by the Society. The Leeds exhibits are:

  1. The Canada goose in Yorkshire: beauty or beast?
    Matt Stevens, Prof. Tony Hardy and Prof. Bryan Shorrocks, Dept. of Biology & Central Science Laboratory.
    Canada geese were introduced to the UK in the 17th century and there is now a population of about 64,000 birds in Britain. The spread of the geese throughout the country has led to many complaints from farmers and landowners that the geese graze crops, foul amenity areas and are aggressive towards native species. The University of Leeds and the Central Science Laboratory are working together to find out how the population of Canada geese in Yorkshire is changing. The ultimate aim of the project is to develop a computer model that can predict how various management practices will affect the population of geese in Yorkshire. Information from this will then be used to propose the most effective methods of reducing or preventing problems caused by these geese. The exhibit will include video material.
  2. Reducing the pollution effects of silage effluent.
    Linda Arnold, Dr. Jeremy Knapp and Dr. Tim Johnson. Depts. of Animal Physiology & Nutrition and of Microbiology.
    Silage effluent is second only to milk as a farm pollutant. Reducing its production by wilting of the grass, or by the use of absorbents in silos, are only partly successful. There are also risks in spreading effluent on land. The problem is not simply one of reducing the oxygen levels in water if the effluent reaches waterways but also of toxicity to organisms in the water and adding acid and unsuitable minerals to the soil. This exhibit demonstrates ongoing research on the detoxification of silage effluent by growth of a naturally occurring yeast in the effluent. The yeast uses constituents of the effluent for its own growth with the result that the treated effluent can more safely be spread on land. There is also the potential to use the ensuing biomass of yeast for other purposes, such as animal feed. The exhibit will show changes in effluent composition after treatment and the biomass yield. It will also demonstrate the organisms and the effluent before and after treatment. There is considerable potential for the development of on-farm systems.
  3. Non-chemical approaches to the control of sheep ectoparasites.
    Alison Lee, Paulina Dani, Dr. David Coates & Dr. Elwyn Isaac, Dept. of Biology.
    Sheep scab and sheep strike are important ectoparasites of sheep in the UK and cause distressing, potentially fatal, diseases that can have serious economic consequences. Effective control can be achieved by dipping sheep in organophosphate or synthetic pyrethroid chemicals. This is stressful to the sheep, requires specialised equipment, is labour intensive and disposal of large quantities of sheep dip is a potential environmental hazard. There is also widespread concern over the safety of organophosphate sheep dips as it has been suggested that these cause post-treatment illnesses of agricultural workers and may lead to long-term health problems. Research being conducted at Leeds, as part of a national programme, aims to develop vaccines against these ectoparasites. Successful vaccines will give long-term protection to sheep without any health risks to farmers or danger to the environment. The research is identifying proteins in the digestive tract of the parasites towards which a vaccine could bedirected so that when the parasites feed on the sheep they will die.
  4. A generic tool for catchment management planning.
    Harriet Candy & Prof. Adrian McDonald, School of Geography.
    Catchment management planning is essential to ensure sustainable use of catchment for all uses, for the future. In general, catchment plans have been prepared on an ad hoc basis, to address specific problems as they arise. A system that is transferable to any catchment, and which uses generic data, will be exhibited. The system acts as an enormous inventory, storing data on all aspects of the catchment (water resource, water quality, and recreation and conservation), such as land cover, soils, river networks and SSSIs. This data can then be analysed to assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the catchment, primarily through the production of hazard maps for colour, metals and microbiolgical risk. The system's main strength is as a decision support tool for the long term management of a catchment, by performing "what-if" scenarios of changing land use and practices. This will be of use to the Environment Agency's Local Environmental Action Plans and to other organisations that have local development plans.
  5. Recent research on barley yellow dwarf virus.
    Prof. Tony Hardy and Dr. David Coates, Central Science Laboratory & Dept. of Biology.
    The exhibit will include data on pesticide usage, aphid resistance to insecticides and the distribution of the disease as well as recent work on the development of a rapid diagnostic method to detect the virus in aphids that transmit the disease. Rapid diagnosis will enable farmers to have a more effective approach to pesticide use.

Other exhibits are:

Natural suppression of root disease in soilless culture. University of Hull and Horticultural Research International. G.M. McPherson, D.

Pattison, F. Pomares & F. Lewis.

Evaluation of white lupins in northern England. University of Newcastle upon Tyne. E.J. Evans & D. Newton.

Population dynamics of pest slugs. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Institute for Arable Crops Research, and University of Aberdeen. Dr. Andrew Young.

For further information contact:

Professor Donald L. Lee


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