Cereals Arable Event 2024

Cereals is the UK’s premier arable event. Its aim is to equip the arable supply chain with the latest knowledge, ideas, and technology to help them embrace all the challenges and opportunities which will arise in the coming years.

Malcolm Macaulay (IBH and CMS)

Therefore, members of the barley group (Joanne Russell, Kelly Houston, Luke Ramsay, Ruth Hamiliton, Malcolm Macaulay, & George Lawrie) along with colleagues from JHL (Lewis Evans & Dan Langford) and Communications (Nadia McGregor & Sharon Simpson), headed to Bygrave Woods last month to make our contribution.

The James Hutton Institute and Limited have attended Cereals for eight years, however this in only the second year our stand included plot displays. This year we showcased some of our work on winter barley. Planning for this event started in July 2023, sourcing lines, checking seed germination rates and numbers before sending seed to the organisers for sowing in autumn 2023. We arrived onsite on Monday for stand set up, eager to see our plots for the first time and they did not disappoint. All the planning and work was worth it as our plots were very eye-catching and stood out from the crowd with variation in plot heights, colours, row type. 8 plots contained landraces (locally adapted cultivars) crossed into elite winter lines. These landraces contain important traits for human health including high levels of grain beta-glucan & anthocyanins which have been shown to reduce the chances of developing several types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties and appear as blue / purple pigmentation which created a huge talking point for our stand. Several contacts were made regarding the use of barley as a superfood also farmers keen to grow a few of our lines as demonstration plots.

We also showcased Maris Otter, a two-row, winter barley variety bred in 1966 which was Britain’s first commercial winter habit malting barley. It’s exceptional malting characteristics and unique rich malty flavour profile ensured it became a symbol of tradition and heritage in brewing. Our plots displayed Maris Otter’s influence on the UK winter barley malting recommended list over the last 60 years. Despite its heritage status, we spoke to many farmers who grow Maris Otter for craft malting and brewing. Enjoyable Maris Otter related chats were accompanied by delicious Maris Otter Golden Ale brewed by ex-colleague Danny Cullen from Law Brewery in Dundee. International Barley Hub beer is always a crowd pleaser at this event! Visitors to stand 502 were also treated to Bere Barley Shortbread, Maltesers, Barley Water and Barley biscuits.

Cereals provides a unique platform to communicate our science to the wider farming community and 2024 was both successful and enjoyable for all involved. Planning for Cereals 2025 is underway already.