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Non-Food Crops

Novel and Non-Food Crops Projects

Contact Dr Lydia Smith

NIAB novel and non-food crops research specialises in the improvement and development of plant genetic resources using classic and molecular plant breeding approaches, allied to optimisation of agronomy and harvesting techniques. With expertise in genetics, genomics, statistical genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, plant pathology and agronomy we are concentrating on:

  • Development of agronomic solutions for field and glasshouse systems
  • Plant platform development for improved bio-factories, oils, fuel pharmaceuticals, food products and plastics
  • Plant breeding for specific traits in agronomically acceptable plant types
  • Evaluation of present germplasm and characterisation for plant breeding Improved seed production
  • Proven track record in project design and management
  • Expertise in identifying funding sources and attracting funding



  • Laboratory and crop specialists in a wide range of species
  • Experienced technical and management teams
  • Trialing and testing locations in the UK and in Europe
  • Standard and specialist equipment


Crop Capability

Arable Crops

  • Sugar Beet - ethanol, animal feed
  • Cereals - Building materials, ethanol
  • Oilseeds - plastics, lubricants, other industrial applications
  • Legumes – animal feed


Livestock Crops

  • Clover - pharmaceuticals
  • Maize - packaging material
  • Grass - various


Ornamental crops new to horticulture

Pharmaceutical Crops

  • Several projects - Privately funded (confidential)


Service support

  • Trials are supported by NIAB’s scientific laboratory and research services
  • Total confidentiality or assistance with planned press and publications
  • Chemical/NIR analysis for fast screening techniques
  • Plant Breeders rights
  • Intellectual Property protection
  • Transfer of UK developed technology to developing countries


Research Projects ongoing include:

  • Control of diffuse phosphate pollution from pig and poultry production units using a low–Phytate wheat based feed. Supported by LINK Sustainable Arable
  • Healthy Hay; Development of Sainfoin as a forage crop for sustainable agriculture and animal welfare. Supported by the European Union FP6
  • Field cultivation of Artemisia annua in the UK and enhanced extraction of Artemisinin used in novel anti malarial treatments. Supported by Defra
  • Developing an alternative UK industrial crop Artemisia annua, for the extraction of Artemisinin to treat multi-drug resistant malaria. Supported by LINK Renewable Resources
  • To assess and quantify the utility of uncut grass silage as a winter food resource for priority farmland birds and to quantify associated agronomic costs. Supported by Defra
  • The effects of food-plant, cultivar and ecotype on farmland butterfly populations Supported by The Chadacre Trust and RSPB


(Selected projects are not included due to commercial sensitivity)