Throws Farm Trials Update - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

Duncan Robertson Blog

March 4, 2013

Throws Farm Trials Update

Hello and welcome to the first edition of the Throws Farm Trials Blog.  Hopefully this blog will serve to give you an idea of the work that goes on in the trials team throughout the year.

Trials Update

The weather here in Essex, as with the rest of the country, has been uncooperative to say the least.  This has resulted in a lot of trial reshuffling due to fields being unworkable for autumn drilling, and recently, made more difficult by Oilseed Rape crop failures caused by a combination of bad weather, slug and pigeon damage.  We have found some excellent new sites for our recently expanded variety screening work and for our herbicide trials, including Brome and Ryegrass work to complement the extensive Blackgrass network.

Preparation is underway for the upcoming influx of spring protocols; we’ve been doing broad spectrum and N Min soil sampling (216 90cm cores for one particular project).  The results of which are driving the fertiliser and nutrition protocols as well as the maintenance applications required for most trials.  We’ll be starting on our spring drilling in the next few weeks and then we’ll be into the very intensive spraying and spreading season.

Meet the Team

In what will be the first of a regular feature, I’d like to introduce a couple of members of the trials team.

I’m Duncan Robertson, that’s me on the right.  I’ve been with Agrii now for close to 4 years, working in the trials team as a Data Analyst.  It’s my job to help ensure that the trials run smoothly throughout the year, picking up on any assessments and applications that are needed, paperwork is in place and that the trials are reported in a timely fashion.I write trial summaries once all the results are in and I look after trials carried out by external contractors.  At the busiest times of year I can also be found outside, lending an extra pair of hands to get through the large number of assessments and product applications.

And now to Adam Lofthouse (left), a Trials Officer here at Throws Farm.

I am often on the move between our many trial sites in and around the Essex, Suffolk and Cambridge areas.  I carry out all sorts of tasks including drilling the trial plots, spraying these either with backpack sprayers or the quad bike and then harvesting plots with our small plot combines.  Other jobs include assessments such as counting plant tillers, measuring crop heights and one of the lesser desired tasks of counting black-grass ears!  I also drive the lorry at Throws, moving our various machines around our sites, this improves efficiency and reduces downtime in the ever shortening window we have at peak periods of the year.  During the autumn and spring drillings I am also responsible for the distribution of seed for the various trial and demonstration plots at the R&D centres around the country.