News from Dr Peter Martin, of the Agronomy Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Orkney College.
PM: “Apart from our work with enlarging Bruichladdich’s Orkney Bere barley supply chain, the Agronomy Institute is involved in a number of research projects on Bere.
“One of these is a collaboration with researchers at the James Hutton Institute. We are investigating the characteristics of Bere which have made it so important to Scottish agriculture for hundreds, and probably thousands, of years. The aim is to identify the genes which are responsible for these traits so that plant breeders can utilise them to improve modern barley varieties.
“One trait of particular interest is the ability of some types of Bere to grow successfully on soils where manganese is very deficient. This year, we established a trial on our field at Burray where this will be investigated with researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Hutton.
“Another area of great interest is our work with archaeologists at the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester which is aimed at learning more about the antiquity of Bere and how long it has been grown in Scotland.
“It is gratifying to see a steady increase in interest in Bere in recent years and we are frequently approached by individuals and organisations for information about the crop. This includes breweries and distilleries, both in the UK and overseas. Recently, too, Orkney’s Barony Mill which produces a traditional flour, beremeal, from the crop has had to increase production to meet increased demand. In part, this has resulted from research carried out by the Agronomy Institute in collaboration with organisations like the British Nutrition Foundation and The Rowett Institute which has highlighted the nutritional properties of Bere.”
More about out latest bere barley release here >