SIR, – I read with interest the article by Brian Henderson 'Quickening the pulse of an old has-bean' in your March 13 edition.

In it, Brian recognised the multitudinous benefits of pulses in the arable rotation and went on to give a very straight and honest appraisal of the situation with regard to their production in Scotland. We frequently encounter growers quoting the experiences of their forebears as the reason pulses have been grown on their farm for decades.

The difficulties imposed by weather can be significant, yet things do change. Relatively starved of investment, pulse breeders have, nonetheless, made progress in variety improvement and the PGRO – in conjunction with other partnering organisations – has made significant strides in better understanding the agronomics of pulse production.

The PGRO is based in the middle of England but works across the UK and is available to any pulse grower seeking advice on their best course of action. We aim to take the similar honest approach to that shown by Brian and recognise that not everything is possible all of the time.

Interested growers may also be keen to learn from other farmers and are invited to participate in either the pea, or bean Yield Enhancement Network (YEN), which is a benchmarking programme for crop improvement.

It is clear that right across Europe there is momentum behind the enthusiasm for locally produced alternatives to imported soya and with a hugely positive environmental story behind UK pulses. There is no reason for Scotland to be left behind.

Roger Vickers

Chief executive officer,

Processors and Growers Research Organisation.