May 30, 2017
Making the Most of Farm Saved Seed
With standards as high as static seed plants, the best of modern mobiles offer growers valuable extra flexibility as well as economy at the least risk. But only if the whole farm-saving process is planned and managed effectively from the outset.
Farm saved seed must be more than simply saving seed from the farm,” insisted Agrii northern R&D manager, Jim Carswell. “Getting the most from farm-saving is as much about growing the right seed in the right way as it is about having it cleaned and treated correctly. Otherwise it could easily cost you more in extra inputs, poorer performance and greater risk than any seed savings you make.”
Northern seed manager, Matt Richardson recommends growers choose up-and-coming varieties with few agronomic weaknesses for their seed crops, pointing out that they’ll have to live with them for at least the next two seasons. For the best-informed variety choice, he insists that national RL data should be complemented with the latest results from Agrii’s rigorous variety testing and disease monitoring programmes across the country.
“Start off with the best quality C2 seed you can get too, especially in terms of weed and other impurities, ergot, germination and vigour,” he stressed. “With the highest standards in the industry, Master Seeds will give you a valuable edge in carrying these and other key elements of quality through to your farm-saved crop (Table 1).
“At no extra cost, it will also provide you with the highest all-round standards of seed treatment, delivery and traceability.”
“Growing the crop to the best of your abilities is equally important,” added Jim Carswell. “Go for the most weed-free fields after a cereal break; optimise yield and quality with tip-top agronomy – disease and weed control, in particular; and harvest, dry and store the grain with the greatest care and without pre-harvest glyphosate.”
Table 1: Current Certified Wheat and Barley Seed Standards
As far in advance of harvest as possible, Agrii specialists advise growers to plan likely seed processing requirements around intended drilling dates with their local farm saved seed team for the best, most-timely service. After harvesting they also suggest having a grain sample tested.
“Working to your tailored requirements with well-maintained state-of-the-art equipment, our experienced and qualified operators will always get you the best sample possible,” stressed farm saved seed business manager, Mark Taylor. “You’ll also be able to make your final seed treatment as well as processing decisions on the day for the greatest flexibility.”
“A good idea of your processing needs ahead of time, however, means we can arrive with exactly the right set-up for the most efficient job. As part of our service we can also test your grain for germination, viability and vigour so you avoid using seed that isn’t up to standard.
“In addition, we’ll provide you with thousand grain weights at the point of processing so you can drill with the greatest accuracy, together with the assurance of quality standards as good as the most modern seed plants.”
At Tillmouth Farm in the Tweed valley near Coldstream, father and son partners Cameron and Michael Binnie work with Agrii agronomist and seed specialist, Gavin Fleming to make the most of farm-saving across their 520 ha of winter wheat-based cropping with a well-tried recipe.
They grow around 40 ha of two Master Seeds wheats for seed each year after oilseed rape or peas, choosing varieties relatively new to the RL that have performed particularly well in Agrii national testing and local iFarm trials.
“Top quality seed is vital for us,” explained Cameron. “And we put as much care into growing it as we did when we grew seed commercially. We take our seed grain from the best parts of each field, avoiding the tramlines, and bring it down to around 14% in a batch drier rather than putting it through our main continuous flow plant.
“It certainly complicates the harvest but, with Gavin’s advice and the professional expertise of our Agrii mobile team, this attention to detail gives us the quality seed we want for planting from early September – on one occasion within a week of harvesting !
“We know exactly where our seed has come from. We get the boldest, most vigorous sample. We can match our seed dressings to both fields and conditions. And we save around £20/ha on seed costs at no extra risk.”