November 19, 2014
Brackley iFarm Rises to 15t Challenge
With careful planning and site selection, Lawrence & Anthony Bonner and their Agrii team have risen to the Best of British Wheat 15 Tonne Challenge spectacularly at the Brackley iFarm over the past season with a 2.5 ha crop of Dickens averaging 15.04 t/ha.
What’s more, this crop produced a good 4 t/ha more than the other half of the same field where JB Diego was grown to current Top 25% agronomic standard – an extra spend of just over £160/ha delivering a margin improvement of nearly £300 at a wheat price of £108/t.
Interestingly too, the team harvested fully 15.4 t/ha from the half of the early October-sown Challenge crop drilled at a variable rate average of 250 seeds/m2 to SoilQuest management zones compared with 14.7 t/ha from the other half sown at an average 350 seeds/m2.
“The land at Cold Harbour Farm, Radstone is reasonable wheat ground,” commented Agrii agronomist, Greg Taylor responsible for managing the crop. “Importantly, though, the clay loam has profited from the Bonner family’s excellent rotation management with regular additions of farmyard manure giving an organic matter content of 6%.
“Unlike many, they weren’t tempted to maul-in a winter crop under the atrocious conditions of 2012/13, opting instead to drill spring beans once the ground became fit to travel in the spring. So we had a decent soil structure and a perfect entry for the Challenge, with soil analyses last spring showing 60 kg/ha of potentially available N.
“We employed SoilQuest data to apply variable rate TSP, and fed for the full 15 t, using 320 kg N/ha from the bag in four splits, 55% after the flag leaf,” Greg Taylor explained. “Guided by the latest results from detailed agronomy research at our AgriiFocus Technology Centre near Swindon, we supported this with particular attention to PGR management at T0 and T1; robust rates of multisite inhibitor, strobilurin, SDHI and triazole fungicides in a four spray programme; and carefully tailored micro-nutrient applications on the basis of regular tissue analyses.
“Our input levels were well above current practice. But everything we did was prescriptive, driven by the particular conditions of the season and needs of the crop. And, as the results clearly show, was well justified financially, even at this season’s disappointing crop values.”
The 2014 Challenge crop success at Brackley has really underlined the value of careful variety choice and attention to agronomic detail from sowing and T(-1) treatment right through to harvest, doing everything possible to eliminate key yield limiting factors and ensure the most favourable conditions for healthy plant growth and maximum grain fill. Both Dickens crops stayed green approximately two weeks longer than the similar maturity JB Diego alongside them with the less dense stand, in particular, developing a far more efficient canopy.