|17 December 2015|

Barley is one of Scotland’s most important crops and is a fundamental component of many key industries, but yet remains a little-known crop. This is surprising when we consider how important and influential our brewing and whisky industries are. Despite this few people outside of farming appreciate barley’s connection with not only our economic wellbeing but also its significance as a global and nutritious food crop.

The James Hutton Institute is at the forefront of scientific progress where barley is concerned. Whilst research into wheat, the UK’s number one crop, is fairly widespread the James Hutton Institute is the UK’s only centre of expertise for the UK’s second largest crop, barley – grown on about half of Scotland’s arable land.

As a result the James Hutton Institute is currently in the early stages of realising an ambition to establish a world class hub for barley research and commercialisation. Most recently the project passed gateway 1, a key milestone in determining that the business plan is both robust and deliverable.

Capital projects manager, Phillip Gane said: “Success in establishing the international barley hub would deliver the UK’s first centre for barley research. Researchers here have been working hard to not only safeguard the future of barley production but also improve the quality of current crops resulting in ongoing growth and prosperity for the Scottish food, drink and agricultural sectors.”

The state of the art centre will generate real benefits for the people and industries of Scotland and the rest of the UK. Located at the heart of the Institute’s Invergowrie campus near Dundee, the centre has already brought together researchers, scientists, SME’s, trade organisations and industrial partners. There have been a number of high level industry meetings opening up extensive dialogue and discussions to visualise the full potential and the organisation of the hub. Longer term this will provide an open platform for the development and evaluation of new barley crop solutions and will support large scale, industry-focused research and feed into the delivery of industry focused training and skills development.