01 March 2015 | Online since 2003



Rothamsted to change operations at Broom Barn site


Rothamsted Research is to change operations at their Broom’s Barn site. Previously a centre exclusively for sugar beet research, the site near Bury St Edmunds will be now be used as an additional field site for the increasing range of arable experiments at Rothamsted Research complementing their other field sites that are critical to its work. Rothamsted Research is continuing sugar beet research with its scientific expertise being moved and integrated into the teams at the Rothamsted main centre in Hertfordshire.

Opened in 1962 as a specialist sugar beet centre, Broom’s Barn has enjoyed a rich history of investigating the science of crop weeds, pests and diseases and their control as well as agronomy and yield studies.

More recently, working with the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO), it confirmed its place as the UK centre of excellence for sugar beet research. Although BBRO has now made management decisions to operate a different model in Norwich, Rothamsted will continue to work with them as opportunities arise and we will continue to grow sugar beet at Broom’s Barn.

Acting Director at Rothamsted Research Professor Martin Parry said “whist a chapter in Broom’s Barn history ends, another one will now open”. He continued, “the facility at Broom’s Barn provides us with the valuable opportunity to compare arable crops and experimental farming systems in different part of the country with different environmental conditions. This site, in the arable part of East Anglia, will complement the experimental arable farms we have in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. These are particularly valuable to us and the farming community that we serve”.

Sugar beet has unique biological mechanisms that allows it to produce significant quantities of readily available carbohydrate with limited sunlight. Sugar beet scientists at Rothamsted Research have a deep understanding of these mechanisms and they will play a vital role in developing this knowledge to support other BBSRC-funded research programmes at Rothamsted Research.

Professor Parry paid tribute to those who had already played a significant part in Broom’s Barn’s history. He said “we are fortunate to have had many great staff at Broom’s Barn, people such as in Philip Draycott, Mike Asher,Mike May and more recently Mark Stevens, as well as many others. I would like to thank all those who have contributed to Broom’s Barn’s success”.

Rothamsted Research are considering options to develop the Broom’s Barn site into an arable Farm Platform, much like the grassland Farm Platform at their site at North Wyke in Devon.

For now, Brooms Barn will continue to play an important role in contributing to agricultural research for the UK and at Rothamsted Research, which receives strategic funding from BBSRC, and in supporting the Government’s Agri-Tech Strategy.

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