20 April 2011
A project showcasing new crop technology and innovation in agriculture is making its debut at Cereals 2011 with a focus on the future of UK barley varieties.
NIAB Innovation Farm is a knowledge transfer, demonstration and networking facility for the agricultural and horticultural sectors. Based in Cambridge it highlights the contribution of advanced breeding and genetics and introduces new plant traits and crops that could become a common sight on UK farms in the future.
At Cereals 2011 the NIAB Innovation Farm feature, on the NIAB TAG stand, will focus on the potential for innovation in developing new barley varieties. Visitors will see how plant breeders and researchers are looking to the past to find new sources of genetic diversity.
The exhibit includes barley varieties Pioneer and Cassata, chosen to demonstrate significant steps forward in plant breeding over the past 65 years, as well as representative wild and land race types.
NIAB Innovation Farm’s Claire Pumfrey explains that Pioneer was the first two-row winter barley to be placed on the NIAB Recommended List in 1945. “It was a barley variety with significantly better yields and disease resistance than previous cultivars and it took another 20 years before it became outclassed. We then fast-forward to 2007 and the breakthrough of resistance to barley yellow mosaic virus (BaYMV) in Cassata.
“Our examples highlight that while plant breeding has taken huge steps forward in the past 65 years it’s been a slow process in bringing new beneficial traits onto the market. New screening techniques can now identify valuable traits within wild and land race barley lines that, until now, plant breeders have been unable to access, and speed up the process. We have the potential to incorporate these genetic solutions into new varieties to ensure sustainable barley production is maintained,” says Mrs Pumfrey.
The concept has already been used in wheat. NIAB’s Smart Carbohydrate and Synthetics research projects are successful examples of the work in practice and will be featured at Cereals 2011.