June 9, 2017
Can novel approaches to disease management help increase on-farm yields?
Visit our South Wales iFarm event on 20th June to find out more.
In some of Richard, Lynn and David Anthony’s fields on their farm in Llampha, South Wales, trial plots extend as far as the eye can see. The Anthony’s farm is one of our iFarms, where local Agrii agronomy and R&D teams run a range of trials to look at issues relevant to local growers. As the farm’s agronomist, Stephen Earl, explains: “The data generated from the trials work at the Llampha iFarm site, provides us with information relevant to the pressures that local growers are facing, helping to inform their growing techniques. We hold regular events at the site so that our customers can apply this knowledge to their own farm businesses, to ensure they get the best outcome in terms of yield and gross margin.”
All of the trials at the iFarm are replicated to ensure that the results gained are fully representative, credible and scientifically valid. This year forty different varieties of winter wheat are being trialled on the site, including new varieties such as Bennington and KWS Zyatt. Local agronomist Tim Seymour explains: “Having the iFarm at Llampha gives us a good opportunity to look at how a whole range of varieties, including new and less well-known varieties, are faring in our very specific local soil and weather conditions.”
There are also 1500 micro plots at the site where we are screening for Septoria resistance and two separate fungicide trials looking at the use of different combinations of chemistry in controlling Septoria. In addition, Agrii R&D Manager Syed Shah has set up a selection of trials to look at the interactions between trace elements, biostimulants and fungicides on disease control.
“The iFarm site in South Wales is in a high rainfall, high Septoria disease pressure area” says Dr Shah. “What our variety trials are showing us is that in a high risk area like this, variety choice combined with a robust fungicide programme is crucial for achieving higher yields. Three consecutive years of work on this site have also demonstrated the benefits of using trace elements, including boron, zinc and copper, and in this case, in enhancing the yield of a group four variety of winter wheat (Solace).
Across the Agrii variety plots, fertiliser inputs are justified by N-Min testing and weekly tissue sampling is carried out so that trace element application can be targeted where and when it’s needed.
“What is becoming clear from our work at Llampha” stresses Stephen Earl, “is that agronomic issues and opportunities should not be viewed in isolation. All of the different yield affecting factors and the strategies used to control or mitigate them, should be regarded as part of an integrated approach to managing your crops from start to finish. “Disease management is becoming increasingly challenging” says Mr Earl. “Using a combination of trials guidance, the correct variety, local interpretation, effective planning, accurate timings and application and clever products can help you stay ahead of the threat.”
“We’re also looking at new approaches and tools to add to our disease management toolbox,” explains Tim Seymour. “We’re now starting to use meteorological data from our nationwide network of weather stations as an indicator of likely disease pressure. Alongside crop specific information such as drilling date, varietal resistance and previous fungicide applications, the extra intelligence from our weather stations at Llampha, Raglan, Castle Morris and Rosemarket, helps product mixtures and rates to be adjusted in line with anticipated Septoria risk throughout the growing season. The work is showing that targeting fungicide applications at the right time, based on this information, can help to increase yield and overall margin.”
The information covered in this article is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the results being captured from the work at the Llampha iFarm and Agrii’s network of 27 other iFarms nationwide. We’d like to invite you to come and find out more at our summer event at the Llampha site on 20th June – please contact Sarah Wilkinson on 07712 322092 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to attend. You can also view the dates for our other iFarm summer events here