‘Vital’ crop trials under threat from funding cut

Scottish farm leaders have reacted angrily after cuts in government funding have left crop trials under threat.

Trials by the Scottish Agricultural College designed to determine the most suitable varieties of cereals, oilseeds and grass to grow in Scotland face funding cuts of £100,000.

The cut meant about a third of the college’s work was in jeopardy.

John Picken, NFU Scotland‘s combinable crops committee chairman, said he was furious the useful, near-market research that farmers really valued was under threat.

“The recommended variety lists play a hugely important role in influencing planting decisions and ensuring that, year in, year out, Scottish growers are able to grow crops suitable for our growing conditions and which meet the requirements of the marketplace,” he said.

“The information provided by such trials has allowed Scottish growers to remain competitive against other major arable growing areas by identifying at an early stage those new varieties that can deliver in Scotland – some of which go on to be grown commercially for many years to come.

Mr Picken said it was “appalling” the research was under threat, especially at a time when the country’s arable sector was under pressure.

“There is a stronger case for the Scottish government actually putting more resources into this kind of work rather than contemplating pulling the plug.”

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