Lancaster University has announced that the Lancaster Environment Centre has appointed a co-ordinator to its new Waitrose Centre, Neil Bragg, product development manager and director of Bulrush Horticulture Ltd.

The centre is part of the LEC's Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. It provides academic research and training to professionals working in the food industry.

Bragg will work with Waitrose's suppliers to identify key problems that would benefit from further scientific research. He will then work with LEC scientists to devise a research programme to tackle those problems and come up with appropriate recommendations.

The research areas will include, working to produce zero pesticide residues on all food products, reducing water waste and improving efficiency, improving quality and consistency of organic food and food safety training as well as research into how the use of plastic in growing crops impacts upon the visual landscape.

Launched by a partnership between supermarket chain Waitrose and the Lancaster Environment Centre, the Waitrose Centre focuses on issues such as improving food quality as well as reducing the impact of food production on the environment. It will also seek to develop new ways of integrating agriculture with regional development.

The centre is one of five key areas identified by LEC as in need of academic research ranging from sustainable energy to water and chemical management. This unique development has been enabled by the generous support of both Waitrose and its supply chain companies.

"I am delighted to have taken up this post at the Waitrose Centre," he said. "The centre offers a great opportunity to bring top researchers and food suppliers together to solve some of the challenges facing modern food production processes."

"This is a really exciting development for the university," said Professor Bill Davies. "The Waitrose Centre will take forward the need to refine food production in harmony with the environment."