THE HOME-GROWN Cereals Authority has already made great strides into the interactive arena, and its new-look website is no exception.

The first thing that will hit you when you enter the new site is how well it has been laid out.

There are new navigation buttons along the top that give access to the main HGCA areas of activity – Crop Research, Varieties, Markets, Research, etc.

These are colour-coded, as are the sections themselves, which really helps navigation.

The lay-out in each section has also been well thought through, which makes the wealth of information the HGCA now offers very easy to find.

Another first for the site is registration, and it‘s worth spending the time doing so if you‘re a levy-payer because access to some of the most useful sections are restricted.

It also means you can add frequently-visited pages to the My HGCA section.

Brand new on the site is Market Data Centre, which is really sound, in theory, at least.

You can query all the HGCA‘s current and past market prices to bring out a data set specific to your own particular needs.

But I was really disappointed by this development that I‘ve been quite looking forward to – the query choices are confusing, and the presentation of the data is dismal.

The HGCA ought to take a look at CSL‘s Crop Monitor site to see how it‘s really done.

Also brand new is the Interactive Cereals Map, which shows the locations of the main cereal users in the UK for those looking for local outlets.

Now this is smart, and definitely work a look – it‘s an absolute synch to use and quite informative.

A number of features have been re-organised on the site, which makes them much easier to access.

The HGCA has clearly done some good groundwork on clicks to information which has paid off – you may be surprised quite how much information it has gathered on your behalf.

A good example of this are the Tools, which can be accessed either through the relevant section or through the central Tools menu.

These include a set of rather useful agronomy calculators and tools which drill down through data such as the HGCA quality survey – again well worth a look.

The HGCA site has always been one well worth a visit, but its information has been hard to find in the past.

This new site scores top marks for its presentation and lay-out and does justice to most of the very useful data and essential interactive tools the organisation has developed.

It just needs to work on that Market Data Centre.