Here are some references from Maggie Pickles who’s Y3 project is exploring ideas around non-food crops.

Non-food crops add value and are successfully utilised in a variety of technically demanding markets in the UK:

Long fibres
textiles industry, paper making, insulation materials and biocompsites for the automotives industry

Short fibres
construction, biocompsites, strawboard, insulation materials or as animal bedding

renewable polymers, adhesives, paper and board

Speciality chemicals and pharmaceuticals
applications include medicinal extracts, essential oils, flavours and fragrances, dyes, cosmetics and nutraceuticals

In addition there is range of energy cropsbiofuels for transport and oils, dominated by biodiesel

The Following organizations are leading research into the cultivation, adaptation and commercial growth of some of these crops:

Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP)
The Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) is a research centre based in the Department of Biology at the University of York. CNAP specialises in gene discovery for plant and microbial-based applications, using biology to benefit society and to provide a sustainable future. CNAP works with many external companies and agencies to deliver target-led research programmes with practical applications.

National Non-Food Crops Centre www.
Located on York Science Park, the NNFCC is the UK’s single independent authority on renewable materials and technology. There are many industrial uses for a range of renewable materials obtained from non-food crops including liquid biofuels, medicines, plastics and fibres. Because these materials are renewable, the products can have strong sustainability characteristics. The Centre aims to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding and to initiate and facilitate technology uptake whilst meeting the government and society’s wider objectives for sustainable development.

NIAB – National Institute of Agricultural Botany
NIAB Innovation Farm is a demonstration and networking facility for businesses, innovators and stakeholders in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.It highlights progress in crop improvement and showcases the new plant traits and crops that could become a common sight on UK farms in the future.Based at NIABʼs Cambridge headquarters, NIAB Innovation

Farm focuses on how plant genetic innovation can address global challenges: It provides:

  1. a living, year-round showcase of new crop technology and innovation demonstrating; the contribution of advanced breeding and genetics novel agronomy and inputs development of food and specialist crops
  2. a hub for dissemination of information and training
  3. an interactive forum for networking and knowledge exchange

FERA – The Food and Environment Research Agency
FERA is an Executive Agency of the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It is the UK’s foremost public sector laboratory working to protect environmental quality, support sustainable land use, and safeguard food safety. Its main role is to provide research, technical services and risk assessments in support of government objectives. FERA also works with the international food, speciality chemicals and land-based industries. Arising from the research programmes is a wide range of analytical, diagnostic and consultancy services.

Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence for Industry
Based at the University of York, this Centre of Excellence acts as a one-stop shop for companies to access world-class R&D in an efficient individually tailored manner. The Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence for Industry can deliver competitive, tailor-made solutions.