NIAB - National Institute of Agricultural Botany

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Trials and Evaluation

Trials and evaluation

NIAB conducts trials and evaluations on all major food and forage crops as well as vegetables, ornamentals, minor and non-food species from eight permanently staffed centres across England and Wales. This enables us to offer services across a range of environments, soil types and as part of commercial crop rotations. We have over 80 years’ experience across a wide range of crop and plant species and have the equipment and facilities to grow and record as well as collate, analyse and report the results to your specification.

Many of the trials that are currently conducted retain a significant amount of statutory variety evaluation work, such as NL (National List), VCU (Value for cultivation and use) and DUS (Distinctness Uniformity and Stability) for Defra. A major programme of advisory trials leading to RL & DL (Recommended and Descriptive listings) are also managed on behalf of levy boards and breeders.

Whilst NIAB is dedicated to this core business there is an increasing demand for our trial capabilities from other customers. These trials vary from plant breeding screening and seed multiplication, to product evaluation for chemical companies and plots for commercial demonstration to end customers and Farmers. Special facilities exist for controlled environment experiments if required.

We also offer product evaluation services and field trials services across Europe.

NIAB is committed to producing results that customers will trust and through its’ ISO 9001:2008 certification, GEP registration and application of first rate science we ensure that high quality standards are maintained

NIAB has the capacity to take on trials of any size and offers a customised and flexible service to meet your individual needs. For further information of how we can add value to your business please contact us.

Crop and Plant Growing Capability

Green tractorThe NIAB plant trialling infrastructure spans UK environments and is unique in its breadth of geographic coverage in England and Wales, the degree of integration with other NIAB capabilities and in some of the specialist facilities. It consists of about 500 hectares of NIAB owned or contracted land at our HQ and Noon Folly Farm in Cambridge and 7 Regional Trial Centres available for field experimentation. Trials facilities at NIAB HQ include extensive outdoor standing areas for specialist ornamentals work, for example hanging basket trials and disease work, for example potato cyst nematode trials.

Staff expertise in plant growth and maintenance extends to over 130 agricultural, horticultural and non-food plant and crop species and includes specialist capability such as GM trials. The facilities are supported with various specialist agricultural equipment associated with for example sugar beet harvesting and grass trials management.

The capability is associated with custodianship of historical datasets of importance. For example, the national crop evaluation dataset is unique and irreplaceable and the historic data remains of interest in relation to research relevant to contemporary challenges such as climate change and environmental impact reduction. Likewise, the UK Cereal Pathogen Virulence Survey dataset have the potential to provide unique insights into pathogen population dynamics in the farmed environment in the UK going back more than 40 years the significance of which is likely to have an international dimension. The specialist statistical and IT knowledge to access, interrogate, analyse and exploit this type of data in a research context is embedded within the capability.

NIAB operations have access to 2200m2 of general and specialist glasshouses which include all-year round, spore-proof and isolation facilities.

The plant growing facilities are supported by a further 7400m2 of buildings, glasshouse headers, laboratories, delivery areas, specialist photographic rooms, chemical stores, seed stores, seed handling areas and offices for research and sample handling in support of our operations.