From Smart Farms to R&D Sites
Gary Bosley, Regional Technical Advisor & Thomas Goodman, Agrii Agronomist
With the formation of Agrii earlier this year, there was a perfect opportunity in the Salisbury area to merge the excellent technical work done by both UAP with its Trials Site and Masstock with its Smart Farm.
On the UAP side of the business we used all of our trials sites to do various product testing and nutrition work; this was replicated to generate data used by the technical dept and our Agronomists, and each year we hosted a fairly low key ‘open day’ on the site. Masstock did most of their replicated trials work at major sites such as AgriiFocus (our Westren Technology Centre) and Throws Farm. This work, together with other systems, was then demonstrated on the Smart Farm network. These events took place at various times throughout the year and included speakers and contributors drawn from across the industry.
The two new Agrii teams from Larkwhistle and Salisbury met and decided to join the sites and create a hybrid of the two; this is now called an Agrii R&D Site and in 2012/13 will be located on the Wilton Estate, by kind permission of North Hill Farms Ltd. This is an exciting development, enabling our local customers and agronomy teams to access a large demonstration farm, which will generate sound, replicated technical data for us all to use. This will work in conjunction with the main Western Technology Centre and compliment the replicated trials work conducted there.
15t/Ha Wheat Challenge
At the beginning of the 2011/12 cropping year we decided to set ourselves the challenge of producing a 1 acre wheat block which was capable of yielding 15 tonne/ha. The idea being to reduce limitations of the variety’s genetic potential by using a robust fungicide program, a crop-specific tailored nutrition plan and enough plant growth regulation to keep it all standing!
At the time of writing, we are yet to harvest the plot, but have some good indications of how it is measuring-up. With a strong fungicide programme we maintained green leaf area, with all three top leaves photosynthesising when comparable plots were down to just one and a half in June. And with over 700 ears/m2 and 100 grains per ear recorded, we have certainly established a crop capable of achieving its potential. The question now, is has there been sufficient grain fill with the lack of sunshine? Watch this space!
“enabling our local customers and agronomy teams to access a large demonstration farm, which will generate sound, replicated technical data”
This year at Wilton we will have:
- Winter Wheat varieties – treated and untreated
- Nitrogen Utilisation Efficiency work – testing nitrogen uptake and its interaction with various fungicides
- The 15 tonne wheat challenge – continuing the work by Todd Jex and Tom Goodman
- Winter Oilseed Rape varieties – treated and untreated as well as continuing to investigate N,S and Mg interactions.
- We also plan to set up a long term trial looking at different forms of organic matter including compost and other waste.
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