CEREALS AND oilseed rape have less of a negative impact on the environment than some other arable crops and grazed grass, according to a new industry study.

Pesticide use is generally lower and there are fewer problems associated with water contamination and greenhouse gas emissions, said project leader, David Turley.

The study was funded by the Home-Grown Cereals Authority and carried out by York based Central Science Laboratory – further details are available in FWi‘s new Research In Focus section.

These and other “good news” stories on the crops‘ environmental credentials are contained in an independent review, due out by the end of the year.

The HGCA hopes it will support the expansion of biofuel production in the UK.

“We expect our report to be welcomed as providing a balanced argument for domestic biofuels.

“We needn‘t lose markets to imports if we can show that it won‘t unduly burden the environment and dispel the myth that set-aside will become wall-to-wall wheat.

“That just won‘t happen for rotational and financial reasons.”

Provided the economics of industrial cropping stack up, Mr Turley foresees the development of parallel markets to the food and feed markets for both cereals and oilseed rape.

A market of up to 4m tonnes of wheat and rape could be created from “surplus” production alone, with no additional effects. That would meet about 2.5% of UK fuel demand, he noted.

FWi‘s new Research In Focus section, keeps you up to date with details of the latest and ongoing HGCA research projects.