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Dr Lydia Smith

Head of NIAB Innovation Farm and the Eastern Agri-Tech Innovation Hub


Phone: +44 (0)1223 342242
Email: Dr Lydia Smith
Twitter: @Lydiamjsmith / @innovationfarm1

Dr Lydia Smith joined NIAB in 1997 and initially had a broad remit to expand research across NIAB. She then established and ran the Novel and Non Food Crops area, which remains an important part of NIAB’s work. A plant ecologist by training, with a particular interest in reclamation of damaged or contaminated land to agricultural or amenity use, Dr Smith has extensive experience in plant microbial interactions and in the application of ecological principles to the farming environment. Her experience naturally spans academic and commercial research in the agricultural crop sector, Lydia has a particular interest in diversification of farm species and has sought to foster interaction with both academics and business within the East of England. Soil quality structure and function is a major part of activity within current non-food crop research.

Collaborative work at NIAB across many project led to the clear need by farmers and stakeholders for a source of information relating to the genetics botany and agronomy of new crop species. The many innovative research programmes in main-stream agricultural food production similarly lacked an easy pipeline for information transfer and efficient discussion with potential users and customers. In answer to this need, Lydia set up a showcasing facility, NIAB Innovation Farm to provide a forum for research and innovation providers to interact more directly with such groups; especially small and recent start-up businesses - and to engage with undergraduates and postgraduates. See NIAB Innovation Farm pages (www.innovationfarm.co.uk). Recently this has led to the initiation of a second facility north of Cambridge where industry has the opportunity to work closely with NIAB on pilot work and new product development, especially the utilisation or re-valorisation of waste products and co-products. This Eastern Agri-tech Innovation Hub was set up with support from the local GCGP LEP and is currently supporting several SMEs in the early stage of their development. See Innovation Hub pages (www.innovationhubuk.co.uk).

Her first degree is in Botany from the University of Sheffield, her MSc, at Reading University and finally a PhD from the University of East London. She spent postdoctoral periods at UEA and Luton University. She lectured in soil and environmental science at the University of Luton and in reclamation science on M.Sc. courses at the University of East London.