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Dr Steve Hoad

Research Interests

My research focuses on crop responses to changes in climatic and agronomic conditions, with emphasis on plant traits for improving resource capture, crop quality and yield stability. This work underpins the development of new cereal cultivars by exploiting a wide range of genetic and phenotypic diversity.  

Research on barley includes genetic and physiological approaches to improving crop quality, nitrogen use efficiency and crop resilience in the face of climatic change. The role of crop diversity and plant traits in nitrogen capture are being explored. This work extends to traits that complement more durable disease resistance. Phenotype screening and genetic analyses are being used to underpin grain quality improvements by eliminating conditions such as grain skinning.  

Research on wheat in concerned with climatic influences on flowering biology, especially in relation to ear fertility. Understanding the genetic and physiological basis of ear development and seed set will have a significant bearing on the development of new varieties that are adapted to the changing UK climate.

Research Projects

  • Resource use efficiency and outputs in crop plants (Work Package 5.2), funded by the Scottish Government
  • Wheat Ear Sterility Project (WESP) in partnership with John Innes Centre, Limagrain UK Ltd, RAGT Seeds Ltd & KWS UK Ltd, funded by BBSRC, HGCA & Scottish Government
  • Establishing best practice for predicting soil nitrogen supply and new approaches to weed control in oilseed rape, funded by HGCA
  • The role of crop structure in controlling increased disease risk in barley (in Work Package 6.4), funded by the Scottish Government
  • Causes and control of grain skinning in malting barley: phenotyping and genetic analysis, funded by BBSRC


  • BSc Applied Biology, Coventry Polytechnic, 1984
  • MSc Crop Physiology, Reading, 1986
  • PhD Plant Physiology, Reading, 1990

Other commitments

  • Editor of the SRUC Recommended List for Cereals
  • Member of the Scottish Micro-malting Group, for the IBD Malting Barley Committee
  • Member of the Scottish Working Party and Joint Working Party, for the IBD Malting Barley Committee
  • Coordinator of the Scottish Varieties Consultative Committee for Cereals
  • Member of the Technical Experts Group for Value for Cultivation & Use

Selected Publications

  • Hoad SP, Bertholdsson N-O, Neuhoff D, Köpke U. 2012. Approaches to breed for improved weed suppression in organically grown cereals. ET Lammerts van Bueren and JR Myers (eds).  Organic Crop Breeding. Wiley-Blackwell; pp 61-76
  • Walters DR, Avrova A, Bingham IJ, Burnett FJ, Fountaine J, Havis ND, Hoad SP, Hughes G, Loosely M, Oxley JP, Renwick A, Topp CFE, Newton AC. (2012). Control of foliar diseases in barley: towards an integrated approach. European Journal of Plant Pathology 133: 33-73
  • Østergård H, Finckh MR, Fontaine L, Goldringer I, Hoad SP, Kristensen K, Lammerts van Bueren ET, Mascher F, Munk K, Wolfe MS. 2009. Time for shift in agriculture: embracing complexity through diversity at all levels. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 89: 1439-1445
  • Parish DMB, Hawes C, Hoad SP, Iannetta PPM, Squire GR. 2009. The contribution of arable weeds to biodiversity. Kingely RV (ed). Weeds: Management, Economic Impacts and Biology. Nova Science Publishers Inc, Hauppage, NY, USA;  pp 61-76
  • MacLeod M, Moran D, Eory V, Rees RM, Barnes A, Topp CFE, Ball B, Hoad SP, Wall E, Mcvittie A, Pajot G, Matthews R, Smith P, Moxey A. 2009. Developing greenhouse gas marginal abatement cost curves for agricultural emissions from crops and soils in the UK. Agricultural Systems 103: 198-209
  • Hoad SP, Topp CFE and Davies DHK. 2008. Selection of cereals for weed suppression in organic agriculture: A method based on cultivar sensitivity to weed growth. Euphytica 163: 355-366
  • Wolfe MS, Baresel JP, Desclaux D, Goldringer I, Hoad SP, Kovacs G, Löschenberger F, Miedaner T, Østergård H, Lammerts van Bueren  ET. 2008. Developments in breeding cereals for organic agriculture. Euphytica 163: 323-346
  • Hoad SP, Moran D, Spoor W. 2007. Analysis of cereal trials to evaluate market and non-market benefits of new varieties and their traits. Agricultural Field Trials – Today and Tomorrow. Eds: H. Bleiholder and H. P. Piepho, 62-65

Dr Steve Hoad

Team Leader - Agronomy, Physiology & Genetics

Address: Crop & Soils Systems, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4342

Fax: 0131 535 3070