20 October 1995

New Suffolk trials site to offer complete packages

By Robert Harris

SEVERAL thousand East Anglian farmers will soon have access to a new trials site in Suffolk.

The main thrust of Crop Care Chemicals work will be agrochemicals. But variety management and cultivations will also be studied to provide farmers with complete agronomy packages.

"We shall select relevant research from institutes, universities and manufacturers and test it thoroughly to provide practical advice for farmers," says technical director Colin Myram.

"Customers are becoming more technically orientated and are demanding this sort of information backed up with sound, scientific fact."

The trials are being planted on 25ha (62 acres) at Jim Manns Honeyhill Farm, Saxham. Crops include cereals, oilseed rape, pulses, potatoes and sugar beet.

Novel agrochemical products will be tested for timing, rates and mixes to allow farmers to get the best from them as soon as they are available, he explains.

"Several new compounds are in the pipeline. Some of these have different modes of action, so they may need to be applied at unconventional timings."

Varieties will be screened and the best taken into further trials examining seed rates and drilling date. Different programmes using high-, medium- and low-input levels will also be tested, as will crop establishment methods.

Genetically modified crops will be included. "We already have glufosinate-resistant rape and glypho-sate-resistant sugar beet. A lot more work is being done. This has huge agronomic implications which must be addressed quickly."

Information will be available to customers at winter meetings and open days, says Mr Myram. Key results will be sent out and advisers will help put them into practice.

Mr Myram stresses the independence of the trials. "A few years ago distributors were perceived as one of the most biased sources of advice. That is changing," he says.

"We are not tied to one manufacturer. We now have access to a range of products from several sources. By trialling them we can sift out the relevant information and provide an unbiased, balanced shop window for farmers."

Trials manager David Sutton (foreground), Colin Myram and farm manager Jim Mann have started planting at the new crop management centre near Saxham. Detailed agronomy advice is their aim.