Bumper yields and the offer of free soil analyses may help to attract more entries for ADAS’ YEN competition. David Jones reports.

Record-yielding wheat crops last summer and free soil tests could prompt a bigger field of entries for this year’s top yield competition run by crop science company ADAS.

A lot more interest in the contest has been seen so far by ADAS this year from arable growers encouraged by better-than-expected yields seen last year.

Of the two grower winners in 2013, Mark Means (pictured above) grew what is believed to be the highest yield of a breadmaking wheat variety, while Robert Pask (pictured below) produced a crop that yielded nearly 70% of its potential.

It was a summer when Lincolnshire Wolds grower Tim Lamyman broke the British wheat yield record with a crop of 14.31t/ha, edging slowly closer to the 15.7t/ha world record.

robert pask

This time last year, few would have believed that then bedraggled cereal crops could turn out to be record breakers, but for this season prospects are already promising.

Many early-drilled wheat crops look in good condition as growers planted a near-record area in the autumn and they could be set up to achieve bumper yields.

It is against this background that ADAS is running the second year of its Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) competition in conjunction with Farmers Weekly.

This season there is the added incentive of free soil analyses for the first to sign up from the agricultural scientific and analytical services group NRM.

Free analyses

The company is offering free standard soil analyses covering phosphate, potash, magnesium, pH, soil organic matter and textural analysis for the first 100 sites to sign up.

In addition, deep soil analysis and soil mineral nitrogen levels will be given for the first 50 sites to enter the competition.

ADAS launched the contest last year to help break through the yield barrier faced by many growers and use innovative ideas to grow better yielding crops, and it attracted more than 30 entries.

Entries this year will again cover any cereal crop, and growers can apply individually or through one of the competition’s sponsors. These include agrichemical groups Bayer, BASF and Syngenta, advisers Frontier and Hutchinsons, plant breeder Limagrain, fertiliser group Yara, crop consultants NIAB TAG and NRM (although NRM will not sponsor growers entering the competition).

Gold, silver and bronze awards will again be made across the three areas: highest field yield, closest to potential yield and yield from trial sites.

Mr Means grew the milling variety Cordiale, which yielded 13.41t/ha to win the overall category last year on his fertile silty soils near Terrington, in north-west Norfolk, close to The Wash.

Further north in Lincolnshire, Mr Pask achieved a yield of 8.21t/ha, equivalent to 69% of the crop’s potential yield of 11.9t/ha on his light limestone brash soils using the variety Viscount.

From the 30-plus entrants, Mr Means achieved the highest yield and Mr Pask the lowest, and still both were winners.

Hutchinsons won the trial plot section with a wheat crop grown near St Neots in Cambridgeshire, yielding 13.61t/ha, or equivalent to 67% of its potential yield of 20.4t/ha.

Enter the YEN competition

ADAS is running its YEN competition again this season to drive innovation and continue to encourage growers to get near to their maximum potential yield. Potential entrants should email yen@adas.co.uk for a registration pack or visit the ADAS website to find out more details about the competition.YEN logo