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UJ’s revolutionary agricultural technology wins prestigious innovation award

A pioneering breakthrough in agricultural technology, championed by Professors Eduard Venter, Charles Whitehead, and Dr Joseph Walker of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), has revolutionised the brewing industry. This transformative method, known as “Rapid Screening of Barley,” provides a fast and accurate approach to assessing germination energy in harvested barley, addressing a crucial requirement in the brewing process.

This revolutionary method, akin to a disposable COVID test, secured the top spot in the Biosciences category at the Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP) Innovation Competition. Its potential to revolutionise not just brewing but broader agricultural practices has garnered significant attention.

Addressing a pressing need

With the rising demand for high-quality barley in brewing, the necessity for an efficient and precise germination energy assessment method has become paramount. Traditional techniques have proven cumbersome and time-consuming, prompting the team’s mission to develop a transformative solution for evaluating harvested barley seed throughout the barley value chain that starts on the farm and culminates at the breweries.

“In today’s booming brewing industry, the demand for top-notch barley has soared, highlighting the critical need for a rapid and precise method to gauge seed germination energy. Conventional evaluation methods have proven difficult and time-intensive, leading to inefficiencies and quality issues during malting. Acknowledging this challenge, our team embarked on a mission to transform how breweries and related industries assess the viability of harvested barley seeds. Currently, the brewing sector lacks a fast test to measure seed germination levels. 

Benefits for brewers and consumers

Typically, seed needs to be tested before storage and malting. Premature germination renders the seeds unsuitable for the brewing process,” says Prof Venter.

As a key figure driving this innovation, Prof Venter voiced his enthusiasm for the transformative potential of the invention in the brewing industry. “We are delighted to provide a solution that tackles a pivotal challenge in the brewing process. Our method not only simplifies barley seed evaluation but also elevates the efficiency of the malting process, delivering benefits to breweries and consumers alike.”

Echoing Prof Venter’s sentiments, Dr Ndivhuwo Luruli, Executive Director (Research & Innovation) at UJ, highlights the significance of collaborative endeavours in propelling technological innovation forward. “The project’s success highlights the University’s steadfast commitment to nurturing a culture of innovation and excellence, along with its firm dedication to tackling societal challenges through pioneering research initiatives.

With its potential to transform the brewing industry and streamline the malting process, Rapid Screening of Barley stands as a testament to the power of innovation in addressing pressing challenges in agriculture and related sectors.

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