5 key areas not to miss at Cereals 2016

With this year’s Cereals event set to be bigger and better with two brand-new features. The first is the Drone Zone, where farmers can get behind the controls of a drone, capture data and see how the information is interpreted.

Then there’s the Soil Pit, a 4m wide, 8m long, 1.2m deep trench which lets visitors get right down to the roots of cover crop benefits.

Farmers Weekly looks at these and the other must-visit areas for growers to gather tips for improving their business.

1. Drone Zone

The first new area is the Drone Zone, where farmers can discover how to operate a drone, work the video camera, programme a flight and use the data to create variable-rate applications.


© Witt/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

Book tickets now

Tickets are available to buy online for the two-day event on 15 and 16 June, near Duxford, Cambridgeshire. Go to the Cereals website.

By pre-registering or collecting a voucher on the day, visitors will not only be able to have a go, but will also receive a follow-up presentation on how to use the information the drone collected on their flight.

Keith Geary of G2Way explains: “After the trial flights we will take visitors through the information and data they have gathered and explain how this can support business decisions about weed control, reducing input costs and drainage decisions, for example.”

See also: New sprayer technology making its debut at Cereals

To register interest email keith@g2way.com specifying the day (15 or 16 June), morning or afternoon, saying whether you are an agronomist or farmer; how many hectares you are responsible for and whether you already use precision farming techniques.

2. The Soil Pit

The second novel feature at this year’s event is the Soil Pit – a trench farmers can step down into to see first-hand how cover crops can improve soil structure.

Black medick

Black medick

Sponsored by Niab Tag and Rothamsted Research, the Soil Pit is 4m wide, 1.2m deep and 8m long – giving visitors a great chance to examine below-ground benefits of four cover crops specifically selected for their strong root growth.

Winter and spring rye, winter wheat and spring barley have been sown on the other side of the Soil Pit for comparison, and a sub-soiler will be used to provide a backdrop for the latest advice.

The four cover crops are:

  • Tillage radish A brassica that can grow rapidly in the autumn, producing deep roots to help rectify structural issues and “mop up” nitrogen to reduce input costs.
  • Radish and spring oat mix Deep-rooting brassica (radish) and vigorous cereal (oats) combine to provide ground cover and soil improvements.
  • Spring oats, radish, vetch and phacelia mix Wide-ranging mix with vetch – a vigorous legume that picks up nitrogen at different times of the year.
  • Crimson clover, black medick and vetch mix Three nitrogen-fixing legumes, which a project showed complement each other well.

3. Syngenta Sprays & Sprayers

The Sprays & Sprayers area profiles the most up-to-date innovations. This year’s key launches include John Deere’s early preview of its new R4050i self-propelled sprayer. The model will be available in limited numbers from early 2017 with 5,000-litre capacity.

Vicon iDrive

Vicon iDrive

Vicon will be demonstrating its new iXdrive self-propelled sprayer, first seen earlier this year. The company’s first trailed sprayer, which is set for production later this year, will also be on display.

4. Variety plots

A popular part of the event for growers are the AHDB and Niab Tag variety plots, offering the chance to see new varieties and candidates for the first time. It is a chance to learn more, helping with variety decisions for the coming autumn drilling season.

Variety plots at Cereals 2015

© Tim Scrivener

A key theme with the current low prices and high disease pressure this year will be maximising the value of disease resistance.

The seed trade now expects varieties with enhanced disease resistance such as Siskin, Illustrious, Graham and Costello to attract attention.

“We’ve seen an end to the boom and bust days of high-risk, high-output varieties,” says independent wheat consultant Bill Angus.

“These types provide you with both insurance and greater flexibility,” he says.

5. Conferences

With Cereals being held just a week before the important EU referendum, the key panel debate organised by the Oxford Farming Conference will look at arguments for both the leave and remain sides.

People attending conference at Cereals 2015

© Tim Scrivener

Other topics being covered in half-hour technical seminar include tackling blackgrass and no-till farming.

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