Given that profit margins are tight and labour is in short supply, a “robot ready” orchard that yields almost twice as much Class I fruit and can be mechanically harvested would probably be a dream come true for the UK’s top fruit growers. Happily, crop production specialist Hutchinsons’ ground-breaking, ten-year project – named Hutchinsons’ Enhanced Light Interception Orchard System (Helios) – could help growers achieve this vision.
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We have not got as many apples and plums as last year, but the pears are pretty good. The rain over summer has helped the wheat and barley harvests and also the fern growth on our asparagus which is much bigger than last season.
As we've only got a small area, we're able to practice good crop hygiene and remove all the old fern and reduce the amount of inoculum on the old stems so our stem-phylium levels are very low.
Agronomy firm Hutchinsons claims the technology at the centre of its new soil scanning system offers a greater level of precision than is possible with established techniques.
When compared with traditional zone-based scanning or grid-based sample point systems, measurement of a wider range of soil quality properties and greater accuracy when measuring them are the key claims for new soil analysis technology introduced this season to the UK by agronomy company Hutchinsons.
Sugar beet has been affected by recent hot weather, with crops on lighter soils showing signs of wilting.
Hutchinsons root crop technical manager Darryl Shailes says: “This wilting is not confined to very light soils and needs some further investigation to find out what’s actually going on, as it may not be just drought.”
James Short, of crop production specialists Hutchinsons, says that growers need to look at their soil as it is the key to unlocking yields.
“It is important that we protect and nurture the soil if we are to continue producing crops in a sustainable and long-term arable rotation.” He advises growers to take up Hutchinsons Healthy Soils service and explains why. “This service provides information to growers and advisors to actively manage their soils and optimise performance and farm profitability.”
Be aware that recent wet weather could induce an early germination of black-grass - but this will only be a proportion of total numbers- so plan for early and later flushes this season, warns Dick Neale of Hutchinsons.
Black-grass has two main flushes, usually in the third week of Sept and the second week of Oct, so the aim is to drill after the black-grass has germinated and been sprayed off.
The annual Hutchinsons northern maize trials demonstration day on Wednesday, September 11, at Smalmstown Farm, Longtown, near Carlisle, provides the chance to hear from a range of industry experts on how to improve the maize production, based on local trials.
“Maize continues to be an increasingly popular crop as it becomes much more consistent to grow, so whether you are an established maize grower or looking at growing the crop for the first time, there will be much to take away from our trials day, “ said local agronomist Jim Clark.
Dr Alison Lees, a research leader for AHDB-funded research into late blight at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee speaks to Heather Briggs about this year's Fight Against Blight.
“We have currently received 576 samples from 86 blight outbreaks this season, with more arriving every day due to the weather conditions being favourable for late blight in large parts of the country through July and into August," she says.
With light leaf spot causing greater issues for brassica growers over the winter, the Syngenta Brassica Alert disease warning system is now spore trapping for the pathogen – to provide valuable notification of risks, to better manage spray timing.
Managed by the Allium & Brassica Centre, Brassica Alert forecasts pathogen risks through a combination of weather data and active spore trapping for ringspot, white blister and now light leaf spot at sites in Lincolnshire.
Hutchinsons held an early season brassica open day at Old Leake in Lincolnshire, in conjunction with the Allium & Brassica Centre.
Hosted by F Daubney & Son, trials were set up to look at insecticides, nutrition, and herbicides, in addition to demonstrations highlighting ways to achieve better soil health.
One of the aims of this work is to be able to offer growers practical solutions to address a shrinking crop protection toolbox, said Hutchinsons technical support for vegetables, Peter Waldock.