Es the Pioneering Work at Royal Award Recognise Reeding and Research Aberystwyth in Plant-B; Queen's Prize Identifies the Contribution of High-Sugar Grasses to Modern Agriculture
Byline: Steve Dube
THE long struggle to save an agricultural research institution from closure has been rewarded with the award to Aberystwyth University of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.
The award, which is made every two years, acknowledges the work of plant breeders at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Ibers), which was created to save the former Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research from closure after a funding crisis caused by government research cuts.
It comes as the institution at Gogerddan, Aberystwyth, celebrates the 90th anniversary this year of the start of pioneering work at Aberystwyth in plant genetics and plant-breeding aimed at developing commercially-viable varieties to tackle problems of food and water supplies, energy security and environmental sustainability.
Achievements over 90 years of work include high-sugar and more digestible forage grasses, improved white clover varieties, high-quality oats, improved turf grasses and disease-resistant pearl millet, which was developed in collaboration with breeders in India.
The award identifies high-sugar grasses such as AberDart and AberMagic for their contributions to modern agriculture. Aber High Sugar Grass varieties now feature heavily in the recommended lists for their combination of high-yield, superior quality and excellent agronomic performance. Higher water-soluble carbohydrate content results in improved nitrogen-use efficiency, with consequent environmental benefits.
Professor Noel Lloyd, Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, said the award confirmed the importance of the work carried out at Ibers.
"The university is committed to addressing the important issues in land-based science, and to do so it is necessary to assemble a wide range of expertise," he said.
"There is a seamless connection between scientific research and innovation, and the transfer of scientific and technological know-how to support land-based industry."
Ibers director, Professor Wayne Powell, said the award recognised the commitment and dedication of the plant-breeding "visionaries" at Aberystwyth over the last 20 years. …