Agronomy Institute Research On Cereals



The Agronomy Institute (AI) cereals research programme is aimed at developing new commercial opportunities for cereals in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands (H&I) area and includes research on both old and modern cereal varieties. Apart from creating new markets for growers and food and drink companies, the programme also aims to increase self-sufficiency in rural areas and reduce the carbon footprint of the H&I food and drink industry.



AI research on old varieties focuses primarily on Bere, a very old type (landrace) of barley which has been grown in the north of Scotland, especially Orkney, for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. AI research and development activities with Bere have concentrated on identifying best practices for growing it and on developing new commercial markets and supply chains for it.


Modern Varieties 

With modern cereal varieties, the AI is involved in identifying early maturing UK and north European varieties suitable for growing in the north of Scotland to help develop niche markets.


Supply Chains

The AI strives to achieve early commercial outputs from its research and has developed several supply chains for end-users in the food and drink sector enabling them to develop new products.



Below are listed some of the cereal projects and commercial companies with which the AI has recently been involved



Identification of modern malting barley varieties suitable for growing in Orkney and the development of an Orkney supply chain (Highland Park Distillery, Orkney).

Highland Park Hi Links + Highland Park
Highland park + Russell Anderson



Development of a supply chain for Bere to produce specialist whiskies (Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay).

Bruichladdich distillery
sydney Gauld Hi Links + Bruichladdich


Development of a Bere whisky (Isle of Arran Distillers).


 Development of a Bere beer (Valhalla Brewery, Shetland).

Leader + logo


Identification of north European cereal varieties suitable for growing in Orkney (W. Shearer Seed Merchant, Orkney).

William Shearer Hi Links William Shearer
Northern Varieties of cereals- Pilvi Northern varieties



Development of the market for Orkney flours produced from locally grown cereals

Barony mill

Argos Bakery Birsay tea rooms Birsay heritage trust Donaldsons ButcherE.R & T Craigie

Foveran Restaurant

Orkney College

tasting-  Orkney flours


Nutritional and baking properties of Bere meal (British Nutrition Foundation, RHM Technology). 

Beremeal Flour BNF