The Healthy Minor Cereals Project

HealthyMinorCereals is an EU-funded 7th framework research project, which aims to “diversify the genetic base, improve stress resistance, agronomic management and nutritional/processing quality of minor cereal crops for human nutrition in Europe“.

Global and European cereal production has seen significant increases through agronomic advances focussing on achieving high yields for a small number of crops (primarily common wheat and barley) through large mineral fertiliser inputs. While this approach has allowed for unprecedented harvests, relying on high-input cereals contributes to environmental degradation and reduction in crop diversity. Minor grain cereals grow well in low-input systems and are nutritionally valuable but are underutilised and typically consumed only locally. The HMC project aims to develop the potential for growing the minor cereals spelt, oat, rye, emmer and einkorn in Europe.

The project includes partners in 10 European countries and Newcastle University, with support from industry partner Gilchesters Organics, is the UK-based partner. NEFG is organising the components of the project focussing on agronomic management, including field trials at Nafferton and in the Czech Republic, Estonia and Crete. The objectives of this part of the project are to:

  • Identify the effects of and interactions between crop genotypes and fertility regimes (type and level) on the performance of minor grains in three European climatic zones.
    • Spelt grown in the UK and Czech Republic
    • Rye grown in the UK and Estonia
    • Oats grown in the Czech Republic and Estonia
  • Identify the effects of and interactions between crop genotypes, tillage and weed control protocols on the performance of minor grains in two European climatic zones.
    • Spelt grown in the UK and Czech Republic
    • Rye grown in the UK
    • Oats grown in the Czech Republic
  • Identify the effects of and interactions between variety mixtures and legume intercrops with different fertiliser input levels and foliar disease treatments on minor grain performance in three European climatic zones.
    • Variety mixture trials grown in the UK (spelt and rye), Czech Republic (spelt and oats) and Estonia (rye and oats)
    • Intercropping trials grown in Crete (spelt)
  • Organise farmer-participatory field trials to assess the performance of minor grains in different pedo-climatic and agronomic backgrounds found in commercial practice.
    • Farm-based trials in the UK (spelt and rye), Czech Republic (spelt and oats) and Estonia (rye and oats)

Contact

Project Leader: Dr Paul Bilsborrow
Email: paul.bilsborrow@newcastle.ac.uk

Project Liaison: Amelia Magistrali
Email: a.j.magistrali@newcastle.ac.uk

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