A national, independent crop research and information centre has been founded this week following the merger of two key research and agronomy groups.

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany and The Arable Group joined forces to form the NIAB Group which will be based in Cambridge and will be led by NIAB’s chief executive Tina Barsby.

With a combined turnover of £12m, the company aims to strengthen the voice of independent research and will have a network of regional offices, employing about 200 staff.

NIAB’s skills in plant genetics, pathology, variety evaluation and seed testing will be complemented by TAG’s talent in applied agronomy research and farmer communication, said Dr Barsby.

“Traditionally, NIAB has been more involved with pre-commercial research, while TAG has concentrated on providing impartial agronomy information,” she said.

“Bringing these two together under one roof opens up new opportunities, both in terms of adding value to our membership services and in attracting additional sources of funding.

“We see the NIAB Group as a unique source of research expertise and technical services, which will play a key role in revitalising the research and development pipeline.”

While subscription services to TAG members and NIAB association members will initially remain separate, there are plans to expand the range as a result of greater technical expertise and increased trials coverage.