19 June 1998

COPING WITH £70/t WHEAT

Sprays & Sprayers is now far more than a machinery show

for sprayer enthusiasts. Crop management, fertiliser

applications and variety choice all feature alongside the

biggest collection of spraying equipment in Europe, making

this a show not to be missed. Here we preview the event,

which runs on Tue 30 June and Wed 1 July near Cambridge.

Edited by Charles Abel and Andy Collings

A KEY change at this years Sprays and Sprayers event is the introduction of cost/benefit calculations for all Novartis products on display.

The move recognises the tighter financial climate products are now being used in and fits the events overall theme of "Crop protection inputs in the £70/t cereal market," explains event manager Andy Watt.

"It is very important for farmers to have the information to hand to help them decide whether an input will be cost-effective on their farm." Such assessments will become increasingly important as market prices become more volatile, he believes. "In future cereal prices could vary tremendously, depending on world market conditions – anything from £50 to £150/t. Growers will need to cost their inputs far more closely to make good decisions."

Also new this year is "Successful Beet" which is being staged in conjunction with British Sugar. Exhibitors focused on the beet crop will demonstrate varieties and machinery. "If it proves a success we will carry it forward into 1999," says Mr Watt.

The main demonstration ring sees a change, with a growing crop of spring barley now included, so all visitors can see Europes full range of sprayers demonstrated in a standing crop as well as over artificial obstacles. Visitors wanting a closer look at machines in operation now get the chance in a special personal demonstration area behind the main ring.

Another key change is the dropping of the Elmdon demonstration site, which had been used to show large scale field trials and variety demonstration plots. The logistics of coaching people to the site were becoming too great, says Mr Watt, so all plots will be at the main Whittlesford site this year.

Other key features include:

&#8226 Spreaders in Action organised by Hydro Fertilisers – six manufacturers demonstrate application equipment and associated services.

&#8226 Precision Farming Village – experts and equipment suppliers explain the potential of this latest technology.

&#8226 Farmland Bird Demonstration – showing how simple management changes can benefit wildlife.

KEY product messages from Sprays and Sprayers organiser Novartis include the role of fungicides in cutting production costs, tailoring pgrs to lodging pressure and combating weeds at least cost.

A special feature on cereal fungicides will show the importance of good disease control in protecting profits with cereal prices around £70-80/t. "The farmers first priority must be to raise yield so the growing cost per tonne is reduced," says product manager Neil Waddingham. "Fixed costs are important too, as are input costs. But yield is the most important factor."

Brigadier and Hussar winter wheat, and Gleam winter barley are being grown under high and low input regimes to highlight the importance of matching the right fungicide to variety and yield potential to minimise unit costs. The value of using Unix (cyprodinil) to control severe eyespot, whether W or R strain, will also be shown in inoculated plots of susceptible Soissons.

Limited lodging

After this springs difficult conditions growth regulation will be a topical issue, forecasts pgr product manager Andrew Cottrell, who is co-ordinating plots to show the role of Moddus ( trinexapac-ethyl) as a growth manipulator rather than just a stem shortener. "We want to show how Moddus can make stems stronger and promote the growth of root systems. That is very important for winter wheat."

Reaper, which is rated six for standing power by NIAB, is being used in the demo. "We know for winter wheat in general and for Reaper in particular that crop height reduction is not the best way to prevent lodging. The best approach is to stimulate root growth with an early application during tillering. We will demonstrate on the day how different Moddus programmes compare with existing standards." A soil pit will help show the effect of Moddus on root systems.

In barley height is the main lodging risk and height reduction the aim when using Moddus, Mr Cottrell explains. That demands a sequence to shorten the lower inter-nodes at stem extension and then the upper internodes at flag leaf. The demonstration crop is Halcyon, rated four for standing power by NIAB.

Herbicide savings

Lower cost approaches to blackgrass and wild oat control will also be demonstrated. Where normal blackgrass is encountered Hawk (clodinafop-propargyl + trifluralin) does the job, notes Mr Cottrell. But where tough to control blackgrass appears a sequence of Prebane (terbutryn) followed by Hawk is being evaluated as a simple to use, lower cost alternative to Avadex (tri-allate) followed by Hawk.

Controlling broad-leaved weeds in the autumn is also profiled. "Hawk contains trifluralin, which helps, but for good blw control we are looking at mixes with ipu or ipu and dff," says Mr Cottrell. Plots drilled with various broad-leaved weeds show how effective various combinations are on different weed populations.

Topik (clodinafop-propargyl) for spring clean-up of grass weeds will also be profiled, as will potato products.

New launches to watch out for

A BROAD spectrum wheat seed treatment with foliar activity, and resistance-busting products to control potato aphids and pea seedling diseases are key new launches at Sprays and Sprayers.

The new wheat seed treatment containing triticonazole, plus fludioxonil, offers the same bunt and fusarium control and fast establishment as Beret Gold, plus early control of foliar diseases like yellow rust, Septoria and mildew, explains product manager Mike Tait.

Foliar disease control is comparable with Baytan (fuberidazole + triadimenol), but there is less of a growth check. With none of the drilling restrictions of existing products it can be used both early and late in the season, he says.

For pea growers Novartis has a robust four-way mix of cymoxanil, metalaxyl, carbendazim and thiram. "We are hoping to have Apron Elite in the market later this year, to overcome some of the weaknesses of older products which were running into resistance problems," says Mr Tait.

A new aphicide, pymetrozine, to control all forms of aphid, including those which are resistant to existing products will be on show. It may be available commercially for next season.

How assurance helps sell crops

CROP assurance will take a key role in this years Spray and Sprayers event, with seminars staged by the Assured Combinable Scheme co-ordinators UKFQC and a focus area dedicated to the preservation of food quality throughout the food chain.

"Farmers are telling us they are pleased with how stringent the check is. They had heard that it is all rather superficial. But the verifiers went through the farm in some detail and they were heartened that it will be meaningful in the marketplace."

The aim of the crop assurance area is to pull a wide range of organisations together to talk about assurance and help growers make decisions about how they can achieve it, and also help them understand why it is so important.

Novartis believes crop assurance is essential for fresh produce already and will be essential for all farm produce in future. "It allows you to demonstrate best practise and safe use and will be important for GM crops too, to assure genetic integrity," Mr Watt notes.

"We dont consider assurance to be excess red tape merely confirming that farmers are doing things right. It is all about selling produce on its benefits."

and thats what assurance is about."

FOOD CHAIN AREA

Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, BAA, Cargill, Farmer representation, Fenmarc, FWAG, LEAF, Masstock Arable (UK), MBM Potatoes, NFU, Novartis BCM, Novartis Crop Protection, Novartis Seeds, PSD, Sainsbury,

WI (for consumers).

SUCCESSFUL BEET

New for 98, a special focus on beet husbandry with British Sugar, breeders and input suppliers on hand to provide up-to-date information and advice.

SEEDS – NEW FOR 99

Next years event will include the UKs first large scale demonstration of crop establishment techniques. A range of equipment will establish wheat, barley and rape plots this autumn, with further plots established just prior to the 1999 event. The aim is to show how seed spacing and depth can be improved.

1998 HIGHLIGHTS

&#8226 Cost:benefit analysis on inputs.

&#8226 Lodging control demo.

&#8226 New herbicide strategies.

&#8226 New cereal seed treatment.

&#8226 Improved pea seed dressing.

&#8226 Resistance-busting aphicide.

&#8226 Food chain, Successful Beet and Spreaders in Action areas.

&#8226 Personal sprayer demo area.

ARENA PROGRAMME

Day 1

Tue 30 June

9.30 Self-propelled sprayers of 2000 litres capacity and above.

10.30 Mounted sprayers and air-assisted sprayers.

11.30 Trailed sprayers.

12.30 Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year presentation.

12.45 Tractor-mounted skid units, low ground pressure self-propelled sprayers – less than 2000 litres, weedwipers, top fruit sprayers.

13.45 Self-propelled sprayers of 2000 litres capacity and above.

14.45 Mounted sprayers and air-assisted sprayers.

15.45 Trailed sprayers.

16.30 Tractor-mounted skid units, low ground pressure self-propelled sprayers –

less than 2000 litres capacity, weedwipers , top fruit sprayers.

Day 2

Wed 1 July

9.30 Self-propelled sprayers of 2000 litres capacity and above.

10.30 Mounted sprayers and air-assisted sprayers.

11.30 Trailed sprayers.

12.15 Tractor-mounted skid units, low ground pressure self-propelled sprayers –

less than 2000 capacity, weedwipers, top fruit sprayers.

13.15 Self-propelled sprayers of 2000 litres capacity and above.

14.15 Mounted sprayers and air-assisted sprayers.

15.15 Trailed sprayers.

16.00 Tractor-mounted skid units, low ground pressure self-propelled sprayers –

less than 2000 litres capacity, weedwipers, top fruit sprayers.

17.00 Finish.

1998 HIGHLIGHTS

&#8226 Cost:benefit analysis on inputs.

&#8226 Lodging control demo.

&#8226 New herbicide strategies.

&#8226 New cereal seed treatment.

&#8226 Improved pea seed dressing.

&#8226 Resistance-busting aphicide.

&#8226 Food chain, Successful Beet and Spreaders in Action areas.

&#8226 Personal sprayer demo area.