Putting our plant science into practice this summer

20 May 2024
NIAB staff member talking at an event in front of a poster, while holding some wheat plants

Head of NIAB Communications, Ros Lloyd outlines what you can expect at NIAB's Open Days and other events this summer.

The Cereals Event. NIAB Blackgrass Open Day. Morley Innovation Day. NIAB South Open Day. The summer events programme, of which these are just a few, is a key point in the calendar for NIAB, its customers, clients and stakeholders – have you booked your place yet?

The events are our annual opportunity to share the breadth and depth of our research work and expertise with growers and agronomists; demonstrating how they can and will be put into practice on farm and the economic and agronomic benefits in their use.

From the variety advice that NIAB is renowned for to the latest disease, weed and pest management options, via crop nutrition, soil management and a look at alternative crops.

But as NIAB CEO Professor Mario Caccamo highlights in his opening article in the Spring 2024 issue of Landmark, these trade and in-house events are also an opportunity to showcase the translation of “fundamental scientific discoveries into practical farming innovations which can boost productivity while addressing climate and biodiversity challenges.” 

With over 20 different crop species in plots, at time of writing dependent on spring drilling success and if the rain ever stops, the NIAB stand at the 2024 Cereals Event on 11 and 12 June, this year near Baldock in north Hertfordshire, is a great example of this ‘plant science into practice’.

Plots will showcase research into the genetic control of yield, yield components, disease resistance and quality traits in cereal crops, with particular focus on wheat, including contrasting lines that construct yield in different ways, for example grain size, ear size and tiller number. The theme is Septoria on our pathology plots, demonstrating NIAB re-synthesised wheat lines that showed an excellent resistance against the disease in 2023.

In our legumes area, plots of peas and beans, lentils and lupins, chickpea and soya all help visitors to uncover the benefits of protein crops by exploring the opportunities for crop diversification and lowering inputs on farm and new market prospects as a plant-derived protein source in food and animal feed.

As part of the display NIAB’s research into improving UK food legumes is showcased, from work on sequencing peas and beans for nutritional quality and the presence of anti-nutritional compounds, to field trials testing how genotype/environment interactions influence crop quality. It also includes the development of genetic resources in faba beans, exploiting natural diversity to improve disease resistance against major diseases, including chocolate spot, downy mildew and Fusarium foot-rot.

The NIAB-led, multi-partner Centre for High Carbon Capture Cropping (CHCx3) project aims to help UK farmers and growers target Net Zero and build farming resilience through diversifying their arable and forage cropping. Visitors can take a look at a wide range of the UK’s underutilised and novel crops that may become more popular over the next few years on farm, and discuss crop management options with NIAB specialists and advisors. With six herbal grazing ley mixtures alongside flax, miscanthus, buckwheat, quinoa, durum wheat, and triticale growers have the option to view some of these crops above and below ground in the 20m-long NIAB Soil Hole.

This CHCx3 work is also available to discuss on NIAB’s stand at the Groundswell Event on 26 and 27 June, just down the road from the Cereals Event, where we feature our research, advice and information within the principles of regenerative agriculture. NIAB is also the sponsor of the event’s Soil Seminar Marquee, with NIAB speakers covering the science behind regenerative agriculture.

NIAB Soil Hole at Cereals 2023

NIAB Open Days 

Our traditional and popular variety demonstration plot tours are still the main feature at many, if not all our in-house events, alongside agronomy advice and opinion from our team of crop specialists with a range of plots covering disease management, nitrogen strategies, soil and rotation management and weed control.

Two specialist events kick off proceedings with a new location for our Black-grass Open Day, the first open event covering the grassweed since before the pandemic. Both this open day on 3 June and our Diverse Weeds Event, a demonstration of sustainable
management of broad-leaved weeds, on 4 June will take place at our CambridgeHinxton trials site.

Of the regional NIAB Open Days, our southern event is back at Sutton Scotney, in Hampshire, on 18June with a range of practical variety and agronomy demonstrations. Our Cambridge Open Day is a ‘no-show’ this year due to the nearby Cereals Event, but will be back in 2025.

We are also running NIAB plot tours as part of the Morley Innovation Day in Norfolk, hosted by The Morley Agricultural Foundation on 20 June, this year in partnership with the AHDB Strategic Cereals Farm (East) Open Day, and at the Croft Arable Event in Co Durham, hosted by Croft Farms alongside event partner ArGrain, this year a little later on 2 July. Both events combine field demonstrations with exhibits with research partners, funders and industry, ensuring the latest independent information and advice from a wide range of specialists.

Book your place on a NIAB Open Day


This article originally appeared in the Winter 2024 edition of NIAB’s Landmark magazine. Landmark features in-depth technical articles on all aspects of NIAB crop research, comment and advice. You can sign up for free and get Landmark delivered to your door or inbox:

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