Managed lower inputs at Strategic Farm East

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With ever-increasing pressure for farmers to find ways to cut costs, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Strategic Farm East will start to look at managed lower inputs during the next twelve months.

Over the last few years, farmer Brian Barker has been using a traffic light system of low, medium and high inputs depending on the potential of each field.

Working together with AHDB, Brian will test out his theory in a giant matrix covering different wheat varieties – including KWS Silverstone, KWS Santiago, KWS Siskin, Graham and Shabras – and three different input levels, all compared against an untreated half-tramline.

Brian will then use disease monitoring and yield mapping to compare any responses to the different levels of investment.

Paul Gosling, AHDB Crop Protection Scientist, said: “In the last few years plant breeders have been producing varieties with good resistance and little or no yield penalty. This opens the possibility of reducing fungicide inputs, but the question is how far can you cut without losing yield to disease and do these varieties respond strongly to fungicides due to greening or other physiological effects?”

The wheat will be direct drilled at the end of September, following linseed.

Teresa Meadows, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “The aim of this demonstration is to explore how fungicide investment can be varied according to variety and the season, helping us to understand how we can be flexible to match the crop’s progress in-season.”

Other demonstrations at the Strategic Farm will build on baselining work carried out during the first year of the project.

  • Cover crops and crop establishment demonstration, to further investigate nitrate leaching
  • Boosting early crop biomass demonstration

Developments at the Strategic Farm will be shared throughout the year through blogs, articles and videos.

Brian farms at E.J. Barker & Sons is, a family farm partnership and contracting business in Suffolk which dates back to 1957. The 513ha arable farm business uses a traditional 12-year rotation, incorporating winter wheat for feed, herbage grass seed and break crops of spring barley, beans, oilseed rape and linseed.


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About Author

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 an avid follower of Stoke City.