A new HGCA project aims to add value to the Recommended List (RL) trials by providing growers with more regional cropping information, as well as helping to generate new local markets.
The one-year pilot scheme, launched in 2012, is focused on Oxfordshire and Cornwall, but the HGCA hopes to roll it out across the UK in coming years. The project follows calls from levy payers for more regional information.
HGCA senior research and knowledge transfer manager Simon Oxley says the driving force behind the project will be gathering real time local information on crop development, disease pressures and variety performance that complement the RL and other monitoring services.
“We are looking to work with local research partners, agronomists and end-users to develop a system that will allow growers to go online and see how local conditions affect disease and yields.
“The aim is to provide a more detailed comparison of the existing popular local varieties in terms of performance, as well as the up and coming varieties grown using local commercial practice.”
The project will provide a regional training opportunity for students and agronomists alike and enable growers to be more involved in proposing trials to address local priorities.
HGCA is showcasing 13 areas of research covering almost 30 individual research projects on its stand (10-1-1003 and 10-J-1002). Here is a selection:
Can more than 90% blackgrass control always be achieved?
Research is showing how alternatives to ALS inhibitor herbicides can be combined with cultural options, such as delayed drilling, varying seed rates and weed suppressing varieties, to help reduce pressure.
Will aphid-borne virus problems increase?
Monitoring the level of resistance in aphids to a range of aphicides is helping the industry to plan strategies to maintain long-term control and to help growers adapt spray plans according to regional aphid activity.
Can mycotoxin management be improved?
Harvest 2012 showed more needed to be done to fully understand the factors influencing grain quality. Better models could improve the prediction of mycotoxin production.
What is being done to combat ramularia?
Ramularia leaf spot is a rising problem for barley growers, especially in wetter parts of the UK. Possible solutions could combine varietal resistance with healthy seed and optimal fungicide applications.
James Coumbe, director of Duchy College Farm, which is hosting the Cornwall Cropping Systems Pilot, is enthusiastic. “We hope this will have great benefits for all in the region, and would like this to be built on in the future.
Part of the Cornish pilot will see local food manufacturer and baker Ginsters testing wheat varieties to ensure they meet specific quality requirements and help provide the best flour performance characteristics for the industry.
Laurence Oldman of Ginsters hopes to identify the very best wheat varieties. “Ginsters always looks to source ingredients locally and would really like to get hold of more wheat from the South West. If the project is successful it will be good news for local farmers and the local economy,” he explains.
Mr Oxley hopes to extend the cropping systems work to sites in Yorkshire and Scotland. “Although each regional aspect is important, the longer-term thinking will be to get a wider picture of what varieties work well where, and build up data that will be not only of local interest, but also UK interest,” he says
The Cropping Systems Pilot in Cornwall will run in partnership with Duchy College, the HGCA, Ginsters, West Country Grain and the Association of Independent Crop Consultants.
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