Final farmers selected for the 50-strong Real Results national wheat trial

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The 50 farmers joining the BASF ‘Real Results Circle’ have been finalised and are described as arable farming’s “exceptional practitioners’ by the initiative’s leader, Tim Short from BASF.

The final 50 have been selected from England, Scotland and Wales and were selected from over 300 applicants to join what Mr Short describes as the biggest farmer trial ever conducted by the crop protection manufacturer, BASF.

“The draw of the initiative has been that the trials will be conducted on growers’ own farms, under local conditions using their own machinery with the assessments being carried out by independent partners ADAS and precision mapping expert, AgSpace,” he explains.

ADAS and AgSpace, we will assess each farm, monitor crops, determine disease pressure and assess fungicide performance throughout the season, while ADAS will produce an end-of-season report on the crop, outlining the results and lessons learned.

Susie Roques, ADAS Crop Physiologist, said that the crop assessments will be made using the Agronōmics system – a new digital technique for farm-based research developed by ADAS and AgSpace with the support of the British Geological Survey. “On-farm tramline trials and split field trials, like those in the BASF Real Results Circle, are being increasingly used by individuals and companies.

“The Agronōmics approach brings a new and unique scientific credibility to the design, management and statistical analysis of tramline trials which will ensure that the 50 participating growers can have more confidence in the results than they would ever have had before.”

Commenting on why he’s getting involved, Kent-based farmer and Nuffield Scholar, Tom Sewell said: “I hope to get real comparisons of trials work of being part of the Real Results Circle. Small replicated plot trials are not real life and so this is real life. Real trials on farms in the middle of real fields which are actually field scale are going to be far more relevant to farmers like myself.

“Part of my reason for joining was the chance to be involved with some of the top farmers and hopefully get a chance to meet them and discuss the results that we find.”

Andrew Osmond who farms at Moor Court Farm, Sparsholt, near Winchester, added: “As it says; real results and not anecdotal hype from the local pub. Sharing of real-time data will enable the members to measure outcomes and cost benefits. It would also mean more chance of accurate benchmarking of inputs across a range of crops.“

Tim Papworth of Lodge Farm, Felmingham, in Norfolk is a fourth-generation farmer who is cropping 1,200ha including potatoes and vining peas. A trained butcher, Tim has extended the business to include four butchery shops with an associated abattoir and cutting plants. He frequently welcomes school visits and last year, hosted Open Farm Sunday.

For him, involvement has been warmly received: “I simply try to achieve the highest yields and the best prices for each of my crops. I’m delighted to have been accepted [into the Real Results Circle]because I just like trying new things, whether it’s new crop varieties or agrochemicals and seeing what works best under our conditions.“

Jorin Grimsdale who farms Mountfair Farm near Duns in the Scottish Borders, said that he is looking forward to seeing the feedback from other farms around the country: “We have always used independent trials to assess crop inputs thus being a member of NIABTAG through the years has given us this valuable data, however we often compare half-field or full tramlines widths with standard farm practice to see if larger farm trials mirror the smaller trial plot results. We prefer to see for ourselves rather than take the manufacturer’s word about any new product.”

In addition, to really understand how their farms can perform, the participants will also be running trials that compare BASF’s SDHI fungicides – Adexar at T1 and Librax at T2 against the farmer’s own choice of fungicide programme. All 50 will also be invited to an end-of-year conference to share their trials results.

The progress – and details of all 50 farmers – can be followed at Open days will be held at a number of farms over the summer details which can also be found there.

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