15 September 1995

Low inputs arent final answer:NIAB

THIS years successful low input strategy is unlikely to be the perfect answer next season.

That is the NIABs reaction to the launch of the latest Arable Research Centre winter wheat list (Arable, Sept 8) pinpointing big regional differences in responses to fungicides across varieties.

"Each crop needs individual management each year," says John Ramsbottom, the institutes head of combineable crops and forage department.

Disease varies greatly from year to year and over sites in any one season, he acknowledges.

Mean response of the five controls in recent Recommended List trials on 25 sites ranged from 44% in 1993 to 13% a year later. But those figures mask big differences according to site. At some there was a 62% response in 1993, at others only 4% in 1994.

Individual wheats also give different responses, he says. "Riband and Hussar are generally regarded as high and low risk varieties, respectively."

As with the ARC results, NIAB figures as given in the paid-for advanced results service, highlight such differences, he notes. "They show there are very good opportunities for managed inputs. But you have got to remember they are historical records. Weather and disease can easily come along and bowl you several googlies."