Global Trials Sites

Cropvale - part of a growing network of global trials sites

Cropvale - part of a growing network of global trials sites

BarForage News spoke to Piet Arts, Global Research Manager at Barenbrug in the Netherlands, to find out more about the wider importance of the work carried out at Cropvale.


As an international breeding company, the Royal Barenbrug Group needs multiple testing locations worldwide to support and evaluate our activities. Currently, we’ve got 14 locations situated around the globe – including two in the UK, one of which is Cropvale.


To create forage grass varieties for the UK, our team draws information from our forage breeding programs in the Netherlands, France and New Zealand, where the growing conditions are similar. Our breeding program with AFBI at Loughgall in Northern Ireland is also a very important part of our work in the UK. We have exclusive rights to market the varieties that come out of this program and over the years, this relationship has delivered many important forage varieties that make a real difference to UK farmers.


Having the opportunity to test all of our new grasses at Cropvale gives us the chance to assess how they will perform in practice and whether they are fit for use in the UK. All available experimental perennial ryegrass varieties from the Barenbrug and AFBI programs are tested for three years at Cropvale.


Each autumn, the breeding team from Barenbrug in the Netherlands visits Worcestershire to work with Roger Hutchings to plant the new trials at Cropvale. Our first visit was in 2007 when we took the train from Calais to Dover, in a 13.5 metre-long truck, carrying all of our planting equipment. Just a few years later, Cropvale was recognized as an excellent location for scoring the disease tolerance and susceptibility of ryegrasses – and was added to NIAB’s disease evaluation work.


The work conducted at Cropvale by Roger fits alongside the programs we run at our trial locations across Europe. From our site in Cork, in the Republic of Ireland (ROI), to Kazan, in the far east of Russia, we test grass genetics in all climates across the continent.


Because the UK’s growing environment is quite specific, the information gathered at Cropvale enables us to select exactly the right genetics to enter NIAB’s official trials. Over the years we’ve had many successes, including the development of top-performing varieties such as Fintona and Ballintoy.

These varieties work especially well in the UK and ROI, demonstrating the importance of Cropvale in our chain of sites.


Thanks to Roger for all the excellent work undertaken at Cropvale over the last decade. All the investments the Royal Barenbrug Group makes in the newest breeding technologies, such as genomic selection, would be worthless if the testing at our trials site was not done properly.


The work conducted by Roger will ensure that we can continue to develop sustainable grass products that have the right characteristics for the UK, delivering drought tolerance, better disease resistance and improved nitrogen use efficiency.


Thijs van Welie, Gerrit van de Kamp, Piet Arts and Henk Tollenaar.

Agriculture products

Discover the range of products for agriculture