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Conference Highlights Need for Attention to Detail

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A recent conference hosted by agronomy firm Agrivice, at Ilketshall St Andrew near Beccles in Suffolk , highlighted the need for growers to focus on the small steps that will have a positive impact on overall crop production this season.

For the 78 farmers in attendance, the take home messages from Agrivice agronomists and industry representatives were clear; yield is still key in driving UK farm profitability.

With a focus on farm economics, Graham Redman of Andersons , urged growers to interrogate their fixed costs and identify cost savings outside of nutrition and pesticide inputs, which contribute more to yield than machinery, grain storage and rents.

Preserving organic matter in soils and using cultivation methods to achieve this was the lead topic from independent consultant Bill Basford. Mr Basford encouraged growers to minimise their cultivation techniques as an important measure in preserving soil structure and spend. He re-iterated the importance of loading and tyre pressure to reduce compaction and subsequent soil damage.

Cover crops have been very much in the headlines of late and Ron Stobart of NIAB believes that whilst the benefits may be small they are certainly not insignificant, and represent another of the small steps to take. He urged growers to ensure that the correct mix of the cover crop must suit what it has been planted to do or else it would not reap the desired benefits.

Dr Bob Bulmer of Hutchinsons spoke about the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN), a collaboration of industry partners that tackles the yield plateau in wheat. Dr Bulmer said that although the high yields seen from some growers have been talked about a lot, he stressed that the real importance of the project was for growers to look at how they can improve the yields on their own individual farms, and to tackle some of the factors that were limiting their yield potential.

An important part of the conference was the presentation from Agrivice agronomists on recent trials results and what lessons could be taken from these for the coming season. Dan Robinson stressed the importance of well balanced and well timed fungicide programmes –particularly with the high levels of disease found in forward crops at present.

“Our trials are important as they bring local results to our clients – our current focus is on fungicide activity on both first and second wheats, comprehensive programmes for black-grass control and looking at the interaction between varieties and verticillium wilt in the oilseed rape crop, “ he said.

He pointed out that the stacking of active ingredients in tackling difficult blackgrass situations was still very important. “In less severe situations, we have seen excellent results from a mix of flufenacet + pendamethalin+ DFF. We have also found that that the application of Atlantis in the autumn had a greater performance in reducing blackgrass heads per square metre than when applied in the spring.”

Tom Rouse introduced a new project to investigate cereal root health and is looking at how a new SDHI seed treatment will potentially contribute to autumn and spring health, vigour and disease control over and above currently commercially available treatments. Mr Rouse hopes to be in a position to demonstrate these benefits later in the season.

agrivice trials this season will look at fungicide activity in wheat progra
Agrivice is an independent agricultural consultancy business based around a team of highly motivated and enthusiastic independent agronomists covering both Suffolk and Norfolk.

Agrivice conduct their own in-house trials locally and will be hosting their various summer trials days on the following dates:

•    6th June 2016 Black grass demonstration
•    13th June 2016 OSR demonstration
•    27th June Wheat fungicides and variety demonstration
•    Further to this there will also be trial work involved with spring barley and the YEN project.