#agronomy18 in the West

The West of the country have just had their #Agronomy18 events and they went down a storm. Over 100 people attended the events in Cowbridge (Wales) and Malvern (West Midlands) and both groups were keen to ask questions and keep the meeting going. The presentations can be found at cereals.ahdb.org.uk/agronomy18

The aim of the meetings was to use experts to share regional information to better equip local farmers with information to improve their business.

Holistic husbandry

Elizabeth Stockdale from NIAB spoke at both events about soil husbandry – taking a more holistic approach to soil by putting science and practice together.  She highlighted the importance of paying attention to the detail – get pH right and not ‘about right’, make sure drains are running and keep the soil channels open. Keeping crops on the land means roots act like little pipes, keeping the soil pores open, allowing water to flow and not cause problems above ground.

Check what you’re doing – check the land is OK to work, do a pass and get out of the cab with your spade to check you’ve done what you intended to.

Keep checking the P, don’t let it be

Attention to detail and checking your management is working was reiterated by Roger Sylvester-Bradley. Phosphorus (P) is important for plant growth so check your P levels – if they aren’t at the target Index of 2, create a plan to build up or run down the level. Roger encouraged the audience to check the progress of the ‘plan’ every 3–5 years: Keep checking the P, don’t let it be. More information on soil P levels can be found in the Nutrient management guide (RB209).

The cream of the crop – building the RL

In Wales, Dr Jenna Watts spoke about a variety of varieties which have made it onto the Recommended List (RL). With a trial site only 5 miles down the road of the venue, the results couldn’t have been more tailored to the area.

The RL process starts with 800 lines being rigorously tested for each crop, the best of these lines are then taken into the National List trials. The best of these then become Candidate Varieties before making to the Recommended List. From the 800 lines, 3–6 varieties make it to the RL. The new RL tables are online at cereals.ahdb.org.uk/varieties. The hardcopy will be available later this month.

Will your budgets budge?

Wales focused on business management with Adrian Matthews (Savills) inspiring growers to put their consultant head on – look at the gross margins of the business to check how profitable the business will be. If a management decision won’t actually make any money – should you just ‘hope for the best’ and do it anyway? Rob Fox (previous Monitor Farmer) shared his experiences with using variable rate technology on his farm. He invested in variable N, P and K technologies and regularly checks how the investment affects his accounts year on year.


Fiona Geary

Fiona Geary

AHDB Knowledge Transfer Officer

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