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Understanding heritage barley for a more sustainable future

Bere barley plots (c) James Hutton Institute
“Our event aims to provide an insight into state-of-art in the research on and application of this fascinating Scottish heritage resource for future crop sustainability”

Bere barley, a type of barley thought to be the oldest cereal in continuous commercial cultivation in the far north of Britain, may hold key genetic resources to allow plant breeders to tackle issues of agricultural sustainability and environmental change.

Scientists from the James Hutton Institute, together with growers, land managers, funders, industry representatives, regulators and policy makers, will meet in venues across Orkney on 29th June to discuss how bere barley can help provide value for Scotland and solve global problems.

The event will focus on past and current uses of bere barley, plus a look at how bere got established in Orkney and how it could be used for food and drink, alternative products and as a source of genetic diversity for future barley varieties.

Tim George, a rhizosphere scientist based at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee and co-organiser of the event, said bere was an important crop in the Highlands and Islands in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

“Back then, bere provided grain for milling and malting and straw for thatching and animal bedding, and was even exported to Northern Europe. The advent of higher-yielding barley varieties led to a sharp decline in its cultivation during the 20th century; however, bere remains a primary resource for high-value products.

“Our event aims to provide an insight into state-of-art in the research on and application of this fascinating Scottish heritage resource for future crop sustainability.”

The event programme includes interactive tours of Barony Mill, a 19th century watermill which produces bere meal for use in locally-produced bread, biscuits and the traditional bere meal bannock. There will also be talks from scientific experts and commercial representatives, as well as novel product testing.

Besides researchers from the James Hutton Institute, the programme will feature the participation of experts from the University of the Highlands and Islands, University of Copenhagen (Denmark), the Rowett Institute and Manchester University.

The event is funded by the Scottish Government's Strategic Research Programme.

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/understanding-heritage-barley-more-sustainable-future on 20/05/19 02:16:34 AM

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.