Meet Our Members

Hello, I’m Danni and I am a 3rd year PhD researcher at Cranfield University. My background lies in an MSc Climate Change degree where I investigated consumer perceptions of meat consumption and before that a BSc Environmental Science degree where I researched climate change impacts on the North Atlantic sea surface temperatures and fish distributions.

My PhD focuses on measuring the efficacy of biostimulants (products such as seaweed extracts, humic substances and protein hydrolysates) in improving soil health (including physical, chemical and biological factors) and fresh produce quality. My project is part of the FoodBioSystems Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and as such is part-funded by an industrial partner, in my case this is with Sainsbury’s. I have been working closely with my Sainsbury’s supervisor throughout my PhD project to bridge the gap between my academic research and application to the wider industry. As well as industrial supervision, part of being in the DTP means that I am able to complete a 3-month internship with my industry sponsor which is what I want to explore with you today. 

I joined the Agriculture team at Sainsbury’s in February 2023 where I embarked on an individual project on potato supply chains. This work contributed to the Sainsbury’s ‘Plan for Better’ strategy which sets out their sustainability goals across the entire business. Within that strategy is an area called ‘Better for the planet’ which focuses on environmental pillars relating to carbon, water, plastic, recycling, food waste and nature. My project was related to the carbon pillar which aims to reduce scope 3 carbon emissions (i.e. on-farm related emissions) by 50% by 2030. Specifically, my project focused on the impact of potato variety choice and production system on aspects of yield, greenhouse gas footprints and cost of production. Within the timeframe of my internship I was able to produce scenario calculations and comparisons of potato varieties supplied to Sainsbury’s with an improved cost of production and reduced greenhouse gas footprint. This was calculated by focusing on nitrogen fertiliser inputs but as I highlighted to Sainsbury’s, there was scope to expand this to other inputs/ management practices and indeed other crop systems! This piece of work promoted fruitful discussions about the wider application to other crops particularly which I think provides huge scope to support Sainsbury’s environmental targets.

 

In addition to my individual project, I supported the Crops team with various documents for internal briefings such as crop condition reports, future supply risks in the food chain, trends in agricultural inputs and I even worked a day in store at Easter! I also had the opportunity to shadow on several supplier visits such as a tomato variety day, potato drilling and packhouse, dairy farmer business meeting, various field trials and a crisp factory…queue interesting fact…It was in the crisp factory where I saw that the purple stripe on bacon rasher-type crisps are made from beetroot juice!

This internship has provided me with a great opportunity to see where my PhD work fits into the wider scope of the food system challenges that we face today. Moreover, it gave me the exciting  opportunity to visit different supply chains which has been an invaluable insight to be able to see it all with my own eyes. Not to mention the great networking opportunities!

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