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Gowrie Swede: a new variety


Filed 19 Oct 04

Congratulations to the Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee for establishing a new variety of swede.

Eight year old Rory Lawson of Birkhill, Dundee visited the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) on Tuesday October 12th to collect a prize from Martin Titley, Forage Crop Marketing Manager of Advanta Seeds UK Ltd.

Rory was the winner of SCRI's "Name the Swede" competition held earlier this year with his winning entry "Gowrie".

Rory Lawson (8) chooses name for new swede variety
Photograph by courtesy of SCRI
For an enlarged view Click Here

Research at SCRI

SCRI has been breeding swedes since the 1920s and its varieties command approximately 50% of the UK market. Gowrie is a dual purpose swede suitable for both table use and as a fodder crop and has improved disease resistance that will lead to a reduction in chemical usage. Advanta Seeds UK Ltd, headquartered in Lincolnshire, are part of the Advanta group, one of the largest seed breeding, production and marketing organisations in the world.

Martin Titley of Advanta Seeds said

"We are delighted with the results of our collaborative breeding programme with SCRI and expect Gowrie to be grown widely throughout the UK and beyond."

Dr John Bradshaw of SCRI who bred this latest variety said

"It is great that Advanta have chosen the name Gowrie to reflect the local area where the swede was bred and trialled."

Gowrie came from a cross made in 1993 between the SCRI cultivars Airlie and Invitation. It was bred by single seed descent, a rapid method that allowed submission to official National List trials eleven years later. Land-Care hopes to carry a short article by Dr Bradshaw describing this technique.

Commercial benefit to SCRI from its research work

Plant Breeders rights are shared between SCRI and a Commercial Company - in accordance with agreements with the then Scottish Office since 1987, and which are continued with the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD).

Mylnefield Research Services (MRS) Ltd was established in 1989 as the commercial arm of SCRI. The primary function of MRS Ltd is to market products, intellectual property and the expertise of both MRS Ltd and SCRI scientists. MRS Ltd acts as the gateway to a variety of skills unique within the UK biological, agricultural and horticultural research service. The company is situated at Invergowrie alongside SCR|.

Jonathan Snape of MRS Ltd said

"SCRI, through its commercial subsidiary Mylnefield Research Services (MRS) Ltd, is paid by commercial companies to undertake plant breeding and produce finished varieties, such as the swede variety Gowrie. This builds on core work and germplasm collections funded by SEERAD.

In addition, MRS obtains royalties on all sales of seed of SCRI-bred varieties.

Total royalty income has exceeded £200k p.a. for the last 2 years."


Clearly SCRI has forged over the years an excellent link between research and commercial benefit. Also it is heartening to see the young being encouraged to take part in celebrating the successful outcome of many years of research that have gone into developing this new variety of swede. Perhaps Rory Lawson will become on of the next generation's horticultural researchers.

However, there must be some concern over SEERAD's proposed future strategy for funding agricultural, biological and related research. Already research funding by SEERAD on agricultural related research has been cut by 25 percent: that amount being redirected to research aimed at "improving human health".

There must be further worries - as articulated by Professor John Hillman, director of the SCRI - over SEERAD's declared intention of only approving funding that meets with the Scottish Executive's policies (1).

A further hazard to the continued well being of SCRI is likely to come from the suggestion that is being aired of amalgamating the various research organisations funded by SEERAD into one.

Meanwhile SCRI is to be congratulated on its continued success in facilitating improvements in both food production and the environment - nationally and internationally.



1. Irvine, James (2004). Review. Scotland's Land: RSE conference 30th September.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 04 Oct 04, www.land-care.org.uk Click Here to View