Monitor Farm network explores biostimulant benefits

A coordinated series of try-outs, conducted across the AHDB Monitor Farm network, will test the potential of using biostimulant products as part of a sustainable agronomy programme.

Spanning from Truro to Morayshire, the 16 AHDB Monitor Farm locations selected to take part in the try-outs represent a wide range of environmental conditions.

Running over three years, biostimulants will be tested on several combinable crops, including wheat, barley and oilseed rape.

The work will promote discussion on the benefits of biostimulants and give growers the confidence to conduct on-farm trials and interpret findings.

Biostimulant products

An AHDB review, completed in 2016, found evidence of a significant increase in yield in at least one experiment for nine of the 11 biostimulant product categories assessed.

Due to the biological nature of these products, however, consistent benefits were not observed in trials conducted on cereals and data for oilseed rape was lacking.

Philip Dolbear, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager for the South West, said: “Our review demonstrated the potential of biostimulants but also made it clear that environmental conditions can make the difference between success and failure.

“These try-outs test biostimulants in a range of conditions and all follow the same protocol to help establish if such products work in these specific situations.”

The biostimulant market has expanded rapidly in recent years with numerous companies selling a wide range of products.

The four products used in the try-outs all include microbial and non-microbial components. Donated by Alltech Crop Science, they include a liquid product applied to the soil at planting and a foliar-applied liquid product.

Treatments will be applied to 2.5 ha of crop and compared to untreated crop in the same field. Various growth, yield and quality parameters will be measured.

Results will be analysed independently and presented at Monitor Farm meetings. The impact on crop yield, quality and margin will be discussed.

Regional Technical Sales Manager for Alltech, Andrew Linscott, said: “This is a great platform to help farmers see and understand the potential benefits of using such technology, including how biostimulants should be used and what they can do.”

For details of Monitor Farm meetings, visit cereals.ahdb.org.uk/monitorfarms

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