Field Experimentation

The Field Experimentation team provides a bespoke service for field genetics and seed multiplication, growing a range of crop and non-crop species.

Cultivation and agronomy are tailored to the diverse plant materials used for genetic dissection, which require complex management. This provides excellent support for innovative phenotyping processes and new technologies in an agricultural environment.

The team is led by Cathy Mumford.


The Field Experimentation equipment and services available at the John Innes Centre include;

  • Access to land at three field sites: Church Farm, Bawburgh, John Innes Centre and Morley Farms
  • Range of mechanical drilling methods: Haldrup 25, Haldrup 30, Wintersteiger Monoseed Precision drill
  • Plot sizes from 1m long individual rows up to 8 row wide plots from 4m harvested length upwards.  All used with front mounted cultivation equipment
  • Zurn 150 combine harvesting with on-board weighing, moisture and specific weight measurement
  • Irrigation:  Briggs 24m hose reel boom, mist, and trickle tape.
  • Range of small scale plant threshing, seed cleaning and treatment equipment
  • Manual small scale plant cultivation
  • Advice, support and practical help with field experimentation planning and execution
  • Storage of bulk harvested seed resources
  • Small scale cultivations, pesticide and fertiliser application equipment providing the equivalent to commercial agriculture
  • Protective crop caging, netting, shading and crop covers

We own 110ha of sandy clay loam at Church Farm, Bawburgh, Norfolk. This is currently used for up to 20ha each year of experimental cereal and brassica plots, with the main focus on wheat genetics. A bore hole water supply allows irrigation for drought experimentation, consistent promotion of disease, pre-harvest sprouting assessment and for plant growth during dry conditions.

Adjacent to the centre there are 2.7ha of light free draining soil with direct access to the laboratory facilities and irrigation.  It is currently home to the Phenospex phenotyping platform providing 24-hour laser scanning of plots grown in an agricultural environment.  The area is also used for genetic studies on ear disease in cereals, experimental work and the multiplication of precise stocks of peas, and small scale work on non-crop species such as Aegilops spp, Arabidopsis and Medicago.

A collaborative arrangement with The Morley Agricultural Foundation allows access to a different environment for multi-site experimentation 10 miles from the John Innes Centre.

These sites are an essential part of our programmes to develop genetic and genomic tools and in providing resources for the plant breeding community. The unique germplasm grown may be the product of many years’ development and integrated research at the centre.

The sites form part of many international collaborations providing both a UK environment for experimental material and the expertise for appropriate cultivation.

At New Found Farm on Colney Lane there are facilities for seed processing and storage to service field experimentation.  Planning permission has been obtained for a new field trials centre at Church Farm which will allow better integration between research and the farm.

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