Agrovista expands OSR R&D investment

Article taken from ATN

Agrovista has launched three demonstration farm projects to undertake commercial testing of key oilseed rape developments.  The results will help deliver practical agronomic packages and a much needed boost to yield.

The move is a natural extension to Agrovista’s existing work, which is undertaken in national network of small crop trials as well as its large plot Growcrop Gold series of OSR trials, says head of marketing Nick Rainsley.

“Over the past four years through the Growcrop Gold series we have moved work from small plot trials into a more real-life situation, often 24m plots that run the length of fields.

“This latest move marks the next step, where we take the most interesting and promising development concepts and assess them in a real farming system, similar to our well-established work on cereal fungicides at Stoughton and blackgrass at Maidwell, Mr Rainsley explains.

“By monitoring and assessing the results our customers can be sure they are getting the best advice once the concept or technique is launched commercially.”

The new development farms are at three existing Growcrop Gold sites – Stoughton in Leicestershire, Croft in North Yorkshire, and Morley in Norfolk.  Oilseed topics being examined this season include companion planting and variety trials.  Tow wider agronomy areas under scrutiny at the same sites are a cover crop before sugar beet and a winter barley seed treatment.

Companion planting has already showed promise in Agrovista’s Growcrop Gold trials last season.  The practice involves sowing a mix of frost-intolerant vetches and clover, which grow alongside the crop during the autumn, mopping up nitrogen that would otherwise be lost.  Companion plants then die or are sprayed off in winter, allowing captured nitrogen to be released gradually in the spring.

Reporting on the results at a recent grower meeting at Morley, technical manager Mark Hemmant said significant benefits were observed, including an increase in top growth, especially at lower seed rates, and better autumn rooting which should improve winter hardiness.  Significant amounts of nitrogen were captured over winter – an average of 29kg/ha at Morley and 23kg/ha at Croft.  In addition, he reported yield increases of 0.3-0.55t/ha, depending on site and seed rate.

Other key topics examined in the Growcrop Gold trials include inter-row spraying to allow control of weeds with non-selective herbicides, an establishment review of drills and seed rates, canopy management to get forward oilseed rape to fulfil its potential and the effect of novel amino-acid compounds on plant physiology and yield.

These will be examined further in 2014, along with a string of new projects including life after neonicotinoids – looking at practical measures to minimise the impact of cabbage stem flea beetle; the evaluation of a novel soil polymer/fertiliser granule and pollinator strips designed to improve OSR yields as well as the environment.

“While many companies are looking at varieties and inputs, Agrovista is examining key agronomic packages,” says Mr Rainsley.

“Oilseed rape yields have plateaued for the past decade and we need to understand why.  We invest a lot of capital into research and development to generate the necessary technical innovation and information.  We believe our Growcrop Gold work is second to none and this move into development farms will help keep it there.”


29 November 2013

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