Norwich’s £1.3m science boost will give peas a chance

Norfolk-grown peas. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk-grown peas. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Norwich-based researchers have been handed a £1.3m funding boost to find new breakthroughs in the resilience and quality of peas and other pulses.

Prof Claire Domoney, who leads the pulse research projects at the John Innes Centre. Picture: ANTONY

Prof Claire Domoney, who leads the pulse research projects at the John Innes Centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The John Innes Centre, on the Norwich Research Park, is one of four of the UK's leading agricultural research centres to share the £5.3m package announced by environment secretary Michael Gove to develop new technologies and innovative production methods for growers across the country.

Since 2009, the centre's pulse crop research programmes have improved the crop's resistance to pests and diseases such as downy mildew, and enhanced pea plants to generate high-quality animal feed.

Research teams at the JIC aim to use the new funding to develop further scientific insights to boost the productivity, quality and value of the UK's pulse and wheat crops. Other crops such as oilseed rape and some vegetable species will also benefit.

Prof Claire Domoney, who leads on pulse crop research at the John Innes Centre, also leads the Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network (PCGIN), a partnership of government, industry and research bodies aiming to deliver scientific resources to help seed breeders and food producers to achieve added value for pulse crops.

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She said: 'I am delighted that Defra has made this long-term funding commitment to the Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Networks.

'This funding will see the results of fundamental science developed into practical outcomes, ensuring farmers and growers are equipped with the tools they need to produce the most resilient pulse crops.'

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The John Innes Centre will also work with one of the other funding recipients, Rothamsted Research, on wheat production research.

Defra said the government has so far invested £160m through its agri-tech strategy to harness the latest agricultural research and technologies being pioneered in world-leading scientific hubs like the Norwich Research Park.

Mr Gove said: 'Developing new technology is crucial to making sure our farmers can continue to grow world-class produce in an environmentally friendly way.

'Through this new fund, I hope to see the creation of new and innovative growing practices and crop protections so we can truly unlock the potential of our food and farming industries.'

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