Oats are an important crop in the UK – even more so due to their increasing popularity as a healthy breakfast choice. Yet unlike other staple cereal crops, such as wheat and barley, R&D investment to improve oat agronomy has been limited. Research by ADAS has indicated that in the UK there is a yield gap between average farm yield and optimal yields.
To meet this demand, and to ensure a sustainable pipeline of high quality oats, a consortium of leading industry partners (PepsiCo, Environment Systems Ltd, James Hutton Ltd), academic partners (NIAB, Aberystwyth University, James Hutton Institute) and a major sub-contractor (ADAS), came together to form the Opti-Oat project (Innovate UK project 102128).
Under the leadership of PepsiCo and with co-funding from Innovate UK and BBSRC, this project has collected more than one million data points over four experimental seasons (harvests 2014 – 2017) from reference trials and commercial oat crops in England, Scotland and Wales to develop the first UK Oat Growth Guide for growers and agronomists, which is being launched today at Cereals 2019.
The Quaker Oat Growth Guide is designed to increase understanding of winter and spring oats through crop growth and development benchmarks with the aim of improving yield and quality to deliver a sustainable supply of high-quality oats and maximise grower returns.
Professor Derek Stewart, agri-food sector lead at the James Hutton Institute, commented: “This has been an excellent opportunity for the James Hutton Institute to collaborate with both leading industry and research organisations to deliver what was missing from the oat community: the Oat Growth Guide.
“It’s been a major but extreme useful and satisfying endeavour delivering benefit straight to the oat growing community.”