The field trial facilities at John Innes Centre permit studies on genetic stocks under agricultural conditions.
There are 2.7 hectares of light free-draining soil adjacent to the Centre which are currently used for irrigated plots to assess ear disease in wheat and to grow experimental peas and multiplication plots under protective caging. Small scale trials of both crop plants and other species under study, or for use as genetic resources, can be grown here. At New Found Farm on Colney Lane there are facilities for seed processing and storage to service the field trials.
At Church Farm, Bawburgh (2 miles west of JIC) there are a further 115 hectares of good quality agricultural land which is currently used for 5-15ha of experimental cereal plots, mainly wheat, and an antirrhinum wall. During 2013 an irrigation main has been installed which allows irrigation for consistent promotion of disease, pre-harvest sprouting assessment and for plot growth during dry conditions. Experimental plots at Church Farm enable identification, and validation in near-isogenic lines, of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for agronomically important traits, including yield potential and components, under realistic agricultural practice. When combined with genomic studies in model species and crops, this knowledge can be translated into advanced plant breeding technologies.
The trial sites also enable field studies of disease epidemiology and disease reactions under realistic, but controlled, agricultural conditions, to underpin JIC's research on host-pathogen interactions. The sites are an essential part of our programmes to develop genetic and genomic tools. In particular they allow us to grow, and screen, large M2 and M3 populations from mutagenised diploid and hexaploid wheats, barley, peas, oil-seed rape, Medicago truncatula, Lotus, and Antirrhinum in order to identify new mutant phenotypes. At Church Farm we will be maintaining and multiplying the UK cereals collections, the European pea collection and the precise genetic stocks of peas and cereals that the Centre curates as national germplasm resources.