26 October 2001

Skip those headlands to boost yields

BRITISH Sugar wants growers to leave turning headlands undrilled to boost crop output, as part of its 20:20 Vision Independent research shows it makes good sense.

"We know turning headlands yield poorly and do not give the return on inputs they should, so why not put them into set-aside," says Keith Jaggard of IACR Brooms Barn.

A survey of farmer fields shows beet typically yielding 14t/ha lower on headlands, representing a 27% yield loss. Compaction and pest damage are mainly to blame. In one case yield dropped from 63t/ha mid-field to 36t/ha on the headland.

Putting all headlands into set-aside that meets the 20m minimum width and total area requirements makes good sense, Dr Jaggard maintains. Modelling shows average gross margin benefits from the change across a typical farm.

Leave headlands undrilled to cut costs and boost average yield by 14t/ha, says IACR Brooms Barn scientist Keith Jaggard.