• Andrew Trump

Researchers from Organic Research Centre trial new soya strain suited to cold climate growth

Following a trip to northern Italy last summer ORC researcher Ambrogio Constanzo has revealed he has secured some seed of a unique strain of soya that will produce well at low temperatures.

Whilst on family holiday to the northern lakes in Italy, Ambro visited his former botany professor, Professor Difalsità. He had retired to the Italian Alps where he has been living for a number of years. When Ambro visited and discussed his current role Professor Difalsità revealed to him some extraordinary soya plants he is growing. A few years ago he noticed some soya plants growing on his compost heap presumably germinated from some discarded edamame beans and decided to replant them. The seeds had survived the cold winter and seemed to germinate at low temperatures and then thrived when planted out.

As a curious botanist their survival at low temperature intrigued the professor and he collected the seed and started to explore the limits of their cold tolerance. He has been amazed at their ability not only to grow and survive but to yield soya beans at low temperatures as he moved the plants higher and higher in altitude with each successive season. He was unaware of the challenges in Europe of growing soya at northern latitudes until Ambro's visit and has generously allowed his protegee to take on the small volume of seed he has amassed to undertake some rigorous trial work to explore the potential of the soya beans. This Spring the ORC team will be multiplying up the beans on several locations in the UK for evaluation purposes and to increase the volume of seed available.

"When I spoke to my colleagues about the adventure they said it reminded them of a fairytale so perhaps I am "Ambro and the Magic Beanstalk" said a smiling Ambro as he recounted the tale.

If you would like to know more about this project please email magicbeans@organicarable.co.uk

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