£6.8m crop technology centre opens for business

A £6.8m project spearheading new crop technology in growing and agriculture is to make its official debut in June.

Innovation Farm is a "knowledge transfer, demonstration and networking facility," said the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).

The complex in Cambridge has 1ha of demonstration plots, a glasshouse and visitor centre and will run workshops and open days on crop traits, genetics and screening techniques.

Claire Pumfrey, NIAB events manager, said the East of England Development Agency helped with funds and a multi-million pound bid had been submitted for European funding. "The networking and knowledge transfer base is targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, she said.

"It targets more than just growers and other producers and will also bring together policy makers, researchers and end users to help them move their businesses forward and share ideas."

Field studies would focus on specialist novel crops, onions, carrots, potatoes and pulses, brassica species and tomatoes to raise the profile of "innovation providers".

These could involve universities, research institutes and small or large private businesses. Pumfrey explained that her aim was to help providers overcome market threats and increase industry co-operation.

Innovation Farm open days will bring together growers, agri-food businesses, industry stakeholders, policy-makers and research organisations.

Pilot projects for the farm were run in 2009 and 2010 to fine-tune the initiative. The farm will be launched at the Cereals 2011 show on 15 and 16 June in Lincoln.

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