Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC)

Project Number
Lead Partner
Scientific Partners
JHI, JIC, NIAB, Rothamsted Research, SRUC, University of Bristol, University of Glasgow, University of Nottingham and University of Warwick
Industry Partners
BASF, Campden Technology Limited, Elsoms Seeds, KWS UK, Limagrain UK, Monsanto UK, nabim, RAGT Seeds, SWRI, Secobra Recherches, Syngenta Seeds, United Oilseeds Marketing and Velcourt
Governement Partners
BBSRC and the Scottish Government
Start Date
January 2010
End date
December 2015
HGCA Funding
£10,000 pa


The challenge

A rising global population combined with global climate change, the potential spread of newly emerging diseases of livestock and crops, and the volatility of oil prices threaten global food security. There is an urgent need to develop sustainable new crop varieties with greater yield potential with reduced inputs. The challenge for industry will be to achieve high yielding, cereal varieties that consistently produce high quality products that are safe, nutritious and meet end-user requirements. Therefore, BBSRC and the Scottish Government have brought together industry and the research community to support research efforts on oilseed rape, barley and wheat and their uses in food production through the development of the Crop Improvement Research Club.

The project

The project aims to:

- Strengthen the UK research community in the areas of crop breeding, production and processing through interdisciplinary research and the provision of training

- Ensure the exchange of knowledge between the science base and industry through effective networking between academic groups and companies

- Develop a greater understanding of quality and yield traits and of the complex genetic and environmental factors affecting them through:

  • increasing nutrient use efficiency and yield potential
  • combating pests and diseases
  • improving the understanding of seed structure, composition and germination properties
  • investigating grain spoilage factors

The benefits

This initiative has increased investment in research activity that would underpin the needs of the crop production and processing industry to address the challenge of maintaining food security. As no single organisation could hope to undertake the sort of research that CIRC enables, by clubbing together with the help of public funders, it is expected to make improvements across the industry. The anticipated output could help to reduce waste, improve quality and deliver cost savings benefitting wider society. To date, this programme is supporting 15 research projects and 10 four-year PhD studentships aligned with the funded projects.

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