Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted is the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for nearly 170 years. Our mission is to deliver the knowledge and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production. No single approach can deliver sustainable agriculture with high productivity and value. A broad perspective that encompasses the whole plant system is needed and a careful balance of approaches is required. Rothamsted integrates biotechnology with other areas of science such as agronomy and agro-ecology so both existing and new knowledge can be implemented through agricultural practice. Our strength therefore lies in our integrated, multidisciplinary approach to research in plant and soil science.

Company details

Rothamsted Research Harpenden , Hertfordshire , England AL5 2JQ United Kingdom

Locations Served

Business Type:
Service provider
Industry Type:
Agriculture - Agriculture Science and Research
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)

Rothamsted is the largest agricultural research centre in the United Kingdom and almost certainly the oldest agricultural research station in the world. Over its 160 year history, the institute has built an international reputation as a centre of excellence in fundamental and applied plant sciences and soil research. Our internationally acclaimed work includes the discovery of synthetic pyrethroids which, forty years from their invention, remain the most important group of chemicals for controlling agricultural pests.

We now live in a world with an increasing threat of food, energy and water security and climate change. It is predicted that world food production will need to be increased by 40% by 2030 and such improvements will need to be delivered on less land, using less water, pesticides and fertilisers. Our mission to perform ‘world-class research to deliver knowledge, innovation and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality, and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for agriculture’, is more relevant than ever.

Our researchers collaborate with a range of governmental organisations, research institutes and companies to develop solutions to meet the needs of industry and society. We engage with industry on a number of different ways, including through: collaborative R&D projects, consultancy work, technology licensing, business incubation and training. This website give an overview of the scope of our impact when working with industry.

Rothamsted Research has a vision to be a world-leading research centre in plant and soil science for sustainable agriculture.

Over the next 10-30 years, it is predicted that enormous pressure will be put on the world to supply enough food, energy and clean water, as we mitigate and adapt to climate change (1,2). Agricultural holds the key to finding solutions to this grand challenge, it is globally the main producer of food and both a producer and consumer of energy. It is also the main global consumer of water, currently consuming 70% of total 'blue water' withdrawals from rivers and aquifers. What’s more it is both affected by and contributes to man-made climate change, for example agriculture is estimated to contribute to 10 to 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our Mission Statement

To perform world-class research to deliver knowledge, innovation and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production.

Clearly scientific research has an important role to play to meet this challenge and Rothamsted Research has developed a scientific strategy, based on 4 themes that will be integral to meeting this challenge.

Rothamsted is almost certainly the oldest agricultural research station in the world. Its foundation dates from 1843 when John Bennet Lawes, the owner of the Rothamsted Estate, appointed Joseph Henry Gilbert, a chemist, as his scientific collaborator.

As a young man, Lawes had been interested in the effect of fertilisers on crop growth and, in 1842, started the first factory for the manufacture of artificial fertilisers. Lawes was not only a successful entrepreneur, he was destined to become one of the great Victorian scientists.

The scientific partnership between Lawes and Gilbert lasted 57 years, and together they laid the foundations of modern scientific agriculture and established the principles of crop nutrition.

In 1843 they started the first of a series of long-term field experiments - some continue to this day. The main object of these experiments was to measure the effect on crop yields of inorganic and organic fertilisers. These so-called 'Classical Field Experiments' are an increasingly valuable experimental resource for today's scientists.

By about 1900, the vast amount of data accumulated from the 'Classical Experiments', together with the inherent variability of agricultural field experimentation, led to the need for a sound approach to statistical methods. Indeed, Rothamsted is known as the birthplace of modern statistical theory and practice.

Researchers at Rothamsted have made many other significant contributions to science over the years, including the discovery and development of the pyrethroid insecticides, as well as pioneering contribution in the fields of virology, nematology, soil science and pesticide resistance.