An innovative R&D-led wheat improvement initiative has been launched by Masstock SMART Farming this winter to help British growers boost their wheat yields by at least 2% per year over the coming two decades through carefully-focused agronomic progress.
Best of British Wheat will run alongside the highly successful Best of British Oilseeds (BoBO) Initiative which has been the foundation for sustained grower improvements in commercial OSR performance over the past seven years.
“As the first dedicated national OSR improvement project, BoBO captured the imagination of growers across the country with the best available UK research and practice-based information and advice,” notes initiative co-ordinator, David Neale. “It has played a major role in helping many UK producers elevate OSR from a valuable cereals break to the second most important main crop they grow.
“The initiative pioneered and continues to champion a whole host of agronomic improvements, from more appropriate variety use and better crop establishment to more optimal plant populations and better fertilization on the basis of green area index (GAI) and soil nitrogen status.
“In exactly the same way, Best of British Wheat is focused on the key aspects of wheat production offering the greatest improvement opportunities for individual growers. And, like BoBO, it will involve leading breeding, nutrition, machinery and crop protection partners alongside our agronomic experts translating sound improvement knowledge into solid production gain.”
The new SMART Farming initiative is setting out to help growers raise their wheat yields – as the key driver of crop profitability – by 2% per year over at least the next decade through carefully tailored advice based on the most appropriate agronomy identified by research and demonstrated in practice.
It links intensive R&D work at Masstock’s Throws Farm, Stow Longa and AgriFocus trials sites with regional studies and demonstrations matched to commercial farming conditions at 26 SMART Farms across the country and individual grower guidance from a nationwide team of more than 180 professional agronomists.
In addition to better informing specific day-to-day customer wheat management advice, the initiative will communicate its findings and recommendations to UK growers through the established annual programme of SMART Farm meetings and open days, together with key advisory publications.
“Over the 2010/11 season our focus is on five key areas of wheat management our team has identified as offering particular opportunities for immediate crop improvement,” David Neale explains. “These include more integrated grass weed management, better performance in challenging situations (including second wheat) and maximising crop quality and consistency.
“Recognising the very different conditions and challenges facing individual growers, Best of British Wheat certainly won’t be producing improvement blueprints which look good on paper but are seldom of much value in commercial practice.
“Instead, we will be generating a growing range of well-validated improvement options which can be combined in different ways under different circumstances to allow every farm to achieve the sustained production gains that are our aim.”
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