News

Introduction of Stapledon Innovation and Technology Interaction Fellowships

The Trust is pleased to announce a new category of awards: Stapledon Innovation and Technology Interaction Fellowships. This flexible scheme was launced at the Livestock Event at the NEC Birmingham in July 2016, and is intended to provide awards to individuals, including farmers and others involved in the grassland sector, who are resident in the UK. The aim is to support recipients to acquire new knowledge or skills that can then be applied more widely to the benefit of the grassland and forage sector. Up to 3000 is available per award. Successful applicants will be required to help communicate their newly acquired knowledge to others. The scheme is supported by the British Grassland Society.

The introduction of these Fellowships recognises that innovation not only comes from research but importantly from the industry itself. The scheme is designed to ensure that these new practices are transferred effectively to the rest of the industry. For example, the Fellowships could support studies of novel arrangements for cooperation and marketing of produce; techniques for improved management of grazing, forage crops or silage; improved integration of agricultural and environmental and animal welfare objectives and ways to improve profitability. Studies are likely to involve travel, within the UK or abroad, although they are not intended to support conference attendance.

Applications will be considered at quarterly intervals (with closing dates of 31 August, 30 November, 28 February and 31 May). The application form (SMT-Innovation-Applocationform) can be downloaded from the 'Fellowship' section of the Stapledon Memorial Trust website.

Submission Dates for Applications to the Trust

Applications for Travelling Fellowships and other awards are normally considered at the Trust’s annual meetings held in December each year and they should be received by 31 October of the same year. In some cases this timescale is inappropriate (as when opportunities for travel arise at short notice and the October deadline would be too late). In such circumstance the Trust will also consider applications in May/June of each year and these should be submitted to the Trust Secretary by 31 May

Visa Requirements

Prospective applicants (particularly from outside the EU) wishing to apply for a Stapledon Fellowship to support travel to the UK should be aware of potential problems with obtaining a visa. Since 2009 visa requirements have become more difficult for many nationalities. The website of the UK Border Agency (www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk ) is a useful source of information about which countries’ citizens require a visa. Applicants should note that in most cases they should consider themselves to be ‘academic visitors’ and to make their application for a visa on that basis. Unless they are intending to take paid employment they should definitely not be applying for a permit to work in the UK. The granting of a Travelling Fellowship by the Trust should not be considered as payment for work but it should be used an indicator that a Fellow has the financial resources to support their stay and pay for their return fare home. The Stapledon Memorial Trust will provide whatever documentation it can to support a Fellow’s visa application but it will be the responsibility of the individual and his host organization to make all the necessary applications. Fellows are advised to start their applications for visas in good time.

Award of Travelling Fellowships

At its AGM in December 2014 the committee agreed to award the following Fellowships, to be taken up in 2015.

  • Dr Juan Andres Quincke (INIA, Montevideo, Uruguay) to Rothamsted Research North Wyke UK (host: Dr Martin Blackwell), for 6 months to carry out research on effects of grazing animals on forms of nutrient losses from grasslands to surface waters.
  • Dr Veronica S. Ciganda (INIA, Montevideo, Uruguay) to Rothamsted Research North Wyke (host: Dr Laura Cardenas), for 6 months, to carry out research on nitrous oxide emissions from grasslands.
  • Dr Preeti Nandal (Dept of Microbiology, University of Delhi, India) to IBERS, Aberystwyth (host: Dr Sreenivas Rao Ravella) for 6 months to work on biorefining in which three different pre-treatment methods and enzymes will be assessed for the ability to recover the xylooligosaccharides fraction from grass samples.
  • Ms Ina Nikolaeva Stoycheva-Mavrovska (Institute of Forage Crops, Pleven, Bugaria) to IBERS Aberystwyth (host: Dr Mariecia Fraser) for 4 months. The aim of the proposed research is determine enteric methane emissions from stock consuming mixtures of different moorland plant species; specifically testing whether the inclusion of dwarf shrub species reduces emissions relative to predicted rates based on diet digestibility.
  • Dr Alison Bennet (James Hutton Institute, UK) for a 4-week visit to Australia to assess changes in plant, soil, and insect communities in a grassland associated with altered rainfall and root herbivory in the DRI-GRASS field experiment at the University of Western Sydney Hawkesbury campus.
  • In 2015 the Trust also awarded a summer vacation bursary to Ms Natalie Plummer (School of Agriculture, Policy & Development, University of Reading to support a 6-week period of research experience under the supervision of Professor Peter Gregory at East Malling Research. The aim was to measure root growth of Festulolium grasses and wheat lines with introgression from wild emmer which may increase the resilience of grass and wheat crops to abiotic stress.

Support for other activities

In addition to funding Travelling Fellowships, the Trust considers applications for other forms of support for individuals and organizations involved in research and practice related to grassland science, including related ecological and socio-economic aspects. Applications for grants may be considered for conferences, seminars and production of publications that are relevant to the grassland-related themes of the Trust's remit.

Conferences and seminars. The Trust has continued to provide financial support for Stapledon seminars and sponsored lectures at appropriate conferences etc.

The Trust is a 'platinum' sponsor of the 25th European Grassland Federation General Meeting, held 7-11 September 2014 in Aberystwyth, UK (www.egf2014). This is a very high profile event that has been held in the UK only once previously. A substantial grant was awarded to support the attendance of young scientists, as well as production of the Conference proceedings, masterclasses and plenary papers.

Other recent conferences that have received Trust support have included the BGS-BSAS conference on Profitable and Sustainable Grazing Systems, Malvern February 2013, the Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture Conference held at University College Dublin in June 2013, and the 22nd International Grassland Congress Sydney, Sept 2013. In all cases the main aim was to support the participation in these events by young career scientists.

The Trust also sponsored the Peter Penning Memorial Lecture as part of the BGS 11th Research Meeting held at Dumfries in 2013.

Student and graduate bursaries. The Trust offers bursaries for undergraduate or pre-university students in the UK who are undertaking an unpaid supervised work experience project (typically of about 8 weeks duration) in an appropriate research environment. The objective is to provide young students with career-related experience in a research environment. A similar bursary scheme is now also available to recent graduates. Application forms for 'Recent graduates' and 'Vacation studies' can be found on the Awards section of the website.

Trust Policy

The Trust carried out a thorough review of its policies in the later part of 2004 and some changes were agreed at the AGM in December. The Trust endorsed the previous policy of its principal support being for funding Travelling Fellowships, but some major changes in eligibility and procedures were agreed, as indicated below:

  • The restriction of eligibility for fellowships to British Commonwealth countries has been removed, so that there is global eligibility.
  • For UK applicants, the Fellowship may be taken up in any other country, whilst for non-UK applicants the Fellowship must be taken up in the UK.
  • Applications must be made through a UK research institution or educational establishment, although the Trust Secretary can assist in putting candidates from other countries in touch with appropriate UK organisations.

The Trust endorsed the policy that Fellowships would normally be awarded to people from post-doctoral level through to mid-career. The length of visits should normally be in the range of 1 to 6 months.

The Trust will continue to support other activities relevant to the Trust's objectives and will consider applications from any UK organisation to fund a 'Stapledon Memorial Lecture', workshop or conference.

Archives of documents relating to Sir George Stapledon

Substantial material relating to the life and work of Sir George Stapledon is held in the National Library of Wales and in the libraries of the Institiute of Grassland and Environmental Research, the Museum of English Rural Life and the Royal Agricultural Society of England. The Trust commissioned Mr Alan Spedding to produce consistent indexes of these holdings in order to help future research on Sir George. These may be accessed through the Archives page of this website.  

Publication of research by past Stapledon Fellow

A paper entitled 'Point source ammonia emissions are having a detrimental impact on Prairie vegetation' by Carly Stevens and David Tilman was published in Water, Air and Soil Pollution (2010) Vol 211, 435-441. This is based on research by Carly Stevens while she was in receipt of a Stapledon Travelling Fellowship at the University of Minnesota in 2007. The paper records that prairie grassland species-richness declined with ammonia deposition from agricultural feedlots, with the non-native Bromus inermis increasing, while biomass also increased. The results of the study have important implications for conservation and restoration of prairie grasslands.

Agri-Food Charities Partnership

The Stapledon Memorial Trust is now a member of the Agri-Food Charities Partnership (AFCP), a body which exists to help any person or organisation involved in UK farming and food to make best use of available charitable monies. The overarching objective for AFCP is to make the most of charitable support for science and education in UK farming and food. This membership affords the Stapledon Memorial Trust with greater opportunities for cooperation with other agri-food charities (http://www.afcp.co.uk/).