Wheat agronomy and environmental schemes will take centre stage in Velcourt’s “What’s New in Arable Farming” area at next year’s event hosted by Nocton Farms, Lincolnshire, on 14/15 June.

“We looked at the popular topics at this year’s event and there was most interest in wheat agronomy and the environment,” says the firm’s technical director, Keith Norman.

The Velcourt site will be split evenly between wheat agronomy – covering the latest developments in herbicides, fungicides and seed treatments – and demonstrations of Entry Level and Higher Level Stewardship scheme options, he says.

“Last year visitors were very much focused on survival and what options are open to them.

A lot of people are now looking at the specific solutions, whether it’s reducing fixed costs, improving agronomy, biofuels or contract farming agreements.”

Herbicides

Plots will be intentionally managed to show clear differences between pre and post-emergence weed control, Mr Norman explains.

Resistant blackgrass has been sown and some plots will receive pre-em sprays only – Crystal (flufenacet + pendimethalin), Liberator (diflufenican + flufenacet) and prosulfocarb.

Others will be treated with a range of post-em products only, including Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium), Hawk (clodinafop-propargyl + trifluralin) and Lexus (flupyrsulfuron-methyl) + Stomp (pendimethalin).

Pre- and post-emergence annual meadowgrass control will also be demonstrated.

“There’s already a considerable difference where no pre-em was used – plots are choked with blackgrass and meadowgrass.

This is likely to have a significant impact on yield.”

Timing of all post-ems is going to be deliberately delayed until the spring to demonstrate the yield penalties that can be associated with late grass weed removal.

Fungicides

Fungicide trials will aim to show the differences in disease control obtained by using products at the preventative T1 timing, compared to the curative T2 flag leaf spray.

Products include Bayer’s new fungicides, Proline (prothioconazole) and Fandango (fluoxastrobin + prothioconazole), BASF’s Tracker (epoxiconazole + boscalid) and Opus (epoxiconazole), among others.

“It’s already a big year for mildew and we are also seeing a lot of brown rust in winter wheat – levels aren’t alarming yet, but they will get worse if we get an average winter,” he adds.

Seed treatments

A key feature of this demonstration will be the new Deter treatment from Bayer.

“It does look like a step forward,” notes Mr Norman.

Barley has been sown around the plots to act as a green bridge for aphids to bring BYDV into crops, allowing differences in treatment efficacy to be more visible, he says.

Environment

Mr Norman believes there are a wealth of options available regardless of your situation and those who haven’t taken up ELS are in the minority.

A variety of Entry and Higher Level Scheme options will be demonstrated, including plots showing enhanced wild bird seed mixes to provide small seed for specific species; fertiliser-free conservation headlands; grass margins; hedge management; undersown cereals; and a skylark plot.

The whole area will be enclosed by a wild flower pollen and nectar mix.

“Many farmers are now looking at trying to build on ELS scheme applications with Higher Level options and multiplying the benefits of different scheme activities,” says Paul Cartwright, Velcourt’s trials officer, who manages the site.

“We’re trying to show how to bring them together and manage them.

Some have found it quite easy by the nature of their land, but others have struggled and will have to make a more active effort [to meet the points requirement].”

Alternative forms of compost (green garden waste and fish waste mixed with shredded wood waste) will also be featured and will be combined with machinery demonstrations to highlight the practicalities of soil incorporation.

The ‘What’s new in arable farming event’ is sponsored by Bayer CropScience, Monsanto, CaseIH, Vaderstad, Househams sprayers and RSPB.

For more information on Cereals 2006, go to www.cerealsevent.org.uk