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									                                    PhD Project Outline

         Project title:     Effects of soil type and agricultural inputs on plant growth,
                            grain quality and economic returns of Bere barley (Hordeum
                            vulgare) in Orkney
         Research           Crop agronomy and physiology
         theme(s)
         Supervisors        Dr. Peter Martin (Agronomy Institute, Orkney College)
         (affiliations)
                            Dr. Xianmin Chang (Agronomy Institute, Orkney College)
                            Dr. Barry Thornton (Macaulay Land Use)
                            Prof. David Robinson (Department of Plant and Soil Science, University
                            of Aberdeen)
                            Bere is probably the only barley landrace still grown commercially in the
         Project
                            UK. Although its origins are uncertain, it has been suggested that its
         background
                            ancestry may go back to a Viking introduction in the 9th Century. It is well-
                            adapted to growing conditions in the north of Britain and prior to the 20th
                            century, it was widely grown in this area. Characteristics which suit it to
                            this area include a rapid growth rate and a reputed tolerance to acidic
                            soils. In most areas, however, Bere was progressively replaced by higher
                            yielding modern varieties and by the 1990s only about 10 ha were still in
                            cultivation – mostly in Orkney, Sutherland and Shetland. Survival in
                            Orkney has been linked closely to a local Mill, which still produces Bere
                            flour, which is mainly used locally in a range of food products (bannocks,
                            bread and biscuits).

                            Analyses of Bere flour has shown it to be a source of magnesium, zinc
                            and iodine and to contain significant amounts of folate, thiamine and
                            pantothenic acid. It is therefore thought to have potential as a functional
                            food (Theobald et al., 2006) and the Agronomy Institute is investigating
                            new bakery markets for Bere flour.

                            Historical accounts show that Bere was previously used widely for
                            producing malt which would have been used for making both beer and
                            whisky. Today, it is not favoured for this because of the high nitrogen
                            content of the grain. Nevertheless, a market appears to exist for Bere
                            malt for the production of specialist beers and whiskies and the Institute
                            is developing collaborative projects in this area.

                            Since the Agronomy Institute opened in 2002, it has allocated
                            considerable resources to R&D activities with Bere which have included:
                                Agronomic trials aimed at increasing yields and making it easier
                                   for farmers to grow
                                Research into the nutritional properties of Bere in collaboration
                                   with the British Nutrition Foundation
Principal Dr William Ross                 Kirkwall Orkney KW15 1LX
                                               www.orkney.uhi.ac.uk
                                   Main Office: 01856 569000 Fax: 01856 569001
                                        Principal’s Office: Fax 01856 569004
                            Short Course Enquiries: Tel 01856 569206 Fax: 01856 569206
                                     Open Learning Centre: Tel 01856 569270
                                    PhD Project Outline

                                   Research and development of new markets for Bere (beer,
                                    whisky and flavoured Bere water)

                            Since 2002, the AI has run a field trials programme with Bere
                            investigating production constraints which were identified with farmers.
                            This has included research into the time of planting, seed rate, the use of
                            inputs like growth regulator and fungicide and the response to different
                            levels of mineral fertiliser. So far, results indicate that Bere is a crop
                            which responds only moderately to inputs and might therefore be more
                            suited to low-input growing conditions.

                            If current attempts to find new markets for Bere are successful and more
                            farmers become interested in growing the crop, it will be very important to
                            be able to give practical agronomic recommendations for the crop which
                            take into account how it differs from modern barley varieties.

         Project
         description        Hypothesis
                            This project aims to test the hypothesis that Bere is most suited to low-
         (Hypothesis,       input agricultural systems and that, under these conditions in Orkney,
         objectives)        economic returns from Bere compare favourably with modern barley
                            varieties.

                            Objectives

                               To identify strategies for improving the yield and quality of Bere and
                                to investigate some of the mechanisms within the plant which bring
                                these effects about.
                               To compare the growth, yield and economic returns of Bere with that
                                of a modern spring barley variety under different soil conditions and
                                with different levels of input
                               To develop Best Practice Guidelines for growing Bere.

                            Strategy

                               Over at least two seasons, Bere and at least one modern spring
                                barley variety will be grown in field trials with different types and
                                levels of input on different soil types in Orkney.
                               Growth analysis data, yield data and grain samples will be collected
                                from the field trials to investigate the effect of treatments and soil
                                types on growth and grain quality.
                               An economic analysis will be performed to compare the costs of
                                growing Bere with other farm enterprises.

Principal Dr William Ross                 Kirkwall Orkney KW15 1LX
                                               www.orkney.uhi.ac.uk
                                   Main Office: 01856 569000 Fax: 01856 569001
                                        Principal’s Office: Fax 01856 569004
                            Short Course Enquiries: Tel 01856 569206 Fax: 01856 569206
                                     Open Learning Centre: Tel 01856 569270
                                    PhD Project Outline

                               Results from the field trials and economic analysis will be used to
                                develop Best Practice Guidelines for growing Bere.

                            References
                            Theobald, H. E., Wishart, J. E., Martin, P.J., Buttriss, J. L and French, J.
                            H. 2006. The nutritional properties of flours derived from Orkney grown
                            bere barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Nutrition Foundation Bulletin, 31, 8-14.



         Other
                            Closing date for applications is 27th April 2007 with interviews likely to be
         information
                            held in Mid of May 2007.

         Further
                            For informal enquires please contact:
         information:
                            Dr Xianmin Chang
                            on +44 (0)1856 569294 / xianmin.chang@orkney.uhi.ac.uk




Principal Dr William Ross                 Kirkwall Orkney KW15 1LX
                                               www.orkney.uhi.ac.uk
                                   Main Office: 01856 569000 Fax: 01856 569001
                                        Principal’s Office: Fax 01856 569004
                            Short Course Enquiries: Tel 01856 569206 Fax: 01856 569206
                                     Open Learning Centre: Tel 01856 569270

								
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