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Latest research on arable crops showcased at Arable Scotland

AS
Arable Scotland
“Whilst plant breeders have previously tried to add spring quality attributes into winter barley, they have relied on chance events to assemble the right genes, which is like searching for a needle in a haystack when the crops differ at thousands of genetic loci. But we now have the knowledge and tools to introduce key spring malting quality attributes into winter barley in a highly targeted manner and improve winter malting quality"

Scientists of the James Hutton Institute have discussed the latest research on arable crops as part of the launch of new event Arable Scotland, including renewed breeding efforts aimed at developing quality crops for defined markets, innovative crop management techniques and ways to create sustainable and healthy production systems.

Dr Bill Thomas, a barley geneticist within the Institute’s Cell and Molecular Sciences, told delegates about work to improve the quality of winter barley for malting purposes, in a bid to address the concerns of maltsters, brewers and distillers about the long-term sustainability of the barley crop.

The £2 million, six-year IMPROMALT project has carried out a ‘targeted improvement’ of winter barley in order to incorporate the better malting quality characteristics of the spring crop. The project has the potential to be the single biggest achievement in winter malting barley genetics since the breeding of the Maris Otter variety in the 1960s.

Dr Thomas said: “Whilst plant breeders have previously tried to add spring quality attributes into winter barley, they have relied on chance events to assemble the right genes, which is like searching for a needle in a haystack when the crops differ at thousands of genetic loci. But we now have the knowledge and tools to introduce key spring malting quality attributes into winter barley in a highly targeted manner and improve winter malting quality. IMPROMALT lines have been tested in micro-malting by MAGB member companies and the results show a significant malting quality improvement.”

Similarly, Dr Pete Iannetta, an agroecologist with the Institute’s Ecological Sciences, argued the merits of planting peas and other legumes alongside cereal crops to make farming greener. Intercropping, as it's known, could cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing dependence on fertiliser, as well as boosting biodiversity, food security and opening up new markets for local food and drinks businesses.

“In pea-barley crop trials, despite sowing the intercropped barley and peas each at a 50% rate and using no artificial nitrogen, total yield has exceeded that of barley grown alone. Nitrogen is essential for good crop yields, and cereals are usually grown with added man-made nitrogen at around 110 kg N per hectare. But artificial nitrogen comes from fossil fuels, so has a high carbon footprint,” Dr Iannetta said.

Arable Scotland is organised and hosted by the James Hutton Institute in partnership with Scotland's Rural College and AHDB, is supported by the Farm Advisory Service, SEFARI and the Scottish Farmer, and sponsored by HL Hutchinson Ltd and the Scottish Society for Crop Research. See more information at www.arablescotland.org.uk.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/latest-research-arable-crops-showcased-arable-scotland?page=1 on 17/07/19 11:39:57 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.