Crop safety is paramount in high value root veg

Don’t compromise crop safety despite difficult conditions, is the message for root crop growers looking to maximise yield potential. 

Sensitive, high value crops combined with one of the most limited portfolios of crop protection products in the industry, means specialist knowledge is key in ensuring return on investment.

Agrovista agronomist Ashley Cooley specialises in carrots and parsnips and believes that although veg crops can be challenging, they also offer growers valuable diversity within rotations. 

Mr Cooley said: “For some, this could be their first year growing commercial root veg, due to a need to vary crop rotations and an increased interest in British produce. 

 “But unlike other crops, root veg especially parsnips, can be very sensitive. We have to strike a balance between pushing the boundaries to do something differently, and protecting the crop from phytotoxic damage.

“And this year hasn’t been easy – we have so few crop protection products available, the weather hasn’t been kind and pest pressure has rocketed. All the while ensuring that we support our customers through to a successful harvest. As agronomists we cannot afford to take unnecessary risks.”

Mark Headley

Mark Headley

One customer who fully supports Mr Cooley’s approach to crop safety is Mark Headley from Bridge Farm in Selby. Farming 400 acres of vegetables including potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and red beet, the business supplies a range of food service markets across the country. 

Mr Headley has worked with Agrovista for around seven years and believes it’s Ashley’s specialist knowledge that makes the difference.

Mr Headley  said: “Despite everything that’s been thrown at us this year, we’ve managed to grow a successful crop of parsnips which is quite remarkable. 

“Ashley takes the ever-changing weather in his stride, adapting his recommendations accordingly whilst ensuring crop safety is number one. 

“The crop has been under high levels of stress this year but by working together and placing trust in Ashley’s specialist knowledge we have got there. What he knows is second to none.”

The feeling is mutual for Mr Cooley, who believes their collaborative relationship has been the key to successful crops year on year.

Mr Cooley added: “It takes a shared vision on both parts and Mark has been excellent when we’ve needed to adjust a programme due to external factors. We enjoy walking fields together through the season, to make sure we have a robust plan. 

“The farm’s sprayer operator Sam Dillcock also provides invaluable support, ensuring timings are spot on and applications well-executed. 

“Together we have a shared goal of protecting our high value root crops and understanding their unique challenges to ensure we can continue to feed our home nation.”

To learn more about veg agronomy from Agrovista, visit https://www.agrovista.co.uk/vegetable

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.