‘Striking effects’ in wheat trials to be showcased at agronomy open day

Wheat trials at Agrovista'’s regional trial site at the Coldham Estate, near Wisbech Fen. Picture: A

Wheat trials at Agrovista'’s regional trial site at the Coldham Estate, near Wisbech Fen. Picture: Agrovista. - Credit: Agrovista

Some 'striking effects' of cultivation trials on the performance of different wheat varieties will be among the insights shared during an open day at an agronomy firm's East Anglian trials site.

Mark Hemmant of Agrovista

Mark Hemmant of Agrovista - Credit: Submitted

Agrovista's regional trial site at the Coldham Estate, near Wisbech Fen in Cambridgeshire, is also examining new fungicides, wheat variety trials, late-sown wheat trials and the importance of cultural controls to combat black-grass.

Norfolk-based Agrovista technical manager Mark Hemmant said there are already some interesting comparisons to be seen, and is expecting these to become more visual when the site opens its doors to East Anglian growers on July 3.

'There will be lots for growers to see and talk about,' he said. 'I'm really exciting by some of the work that's going on at Coldham, and one of the most interesting and important projects is the wheat variety/cultivation interaction trial.

'Given the amount of low- and no-till that is now carried out across the country, which is likely to increase if government proposals to encourage it are carried out, we thought it was time to see if there is a difference in the way varieties perform under different cultivation systems.'

Four wheat varieties were sown in large blocks – one fast- and one slow-developing variety and the two-highest yielding varieties on the Recommended List. These were established using either a low-till system, which consisted of a shallow levelling pass before drilling, or a system that involved several passes to create a suitable seed-bed. In both cases an identical Weaving drill was used to sow the crop.

'We saw differences in uniformity of emergence, with some varieties more affected by low-till than others,' said Mr Hemmant. 'In terms of spring growth, some performed better than others, and one variety looked completely different under the two regimes.'

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As well as these marked physiological differences, significantly different levels of disease are now showing between the cultivation systems, particularly in the untreated blocks, he said.

'We also have a low-input and a high-input fungicide programme overlaid on these trials, and already it seems apparent that varieties established under different cultivation regimes will not necessarily require the same fungicide treatments,' said Mr Hemmant.

'Of course, the acid test will be yield and cost of production. But I'm sure this work will spark some quite fascinating discussions among visitors.'

The site is also testing new fungicide chemistry which is due to be introduced into the market in the next couple of years.

'A range of chemistry is under threat from legislation, so we are comparing some new coded products against our current standard programme, with a particular focus on Septoria tritici,' said Mr Hemmant.

'We can clearly pick out differences between T1 treatments already and, by the open day, we should be able to draw some really good comparisons from T2 applications as well.

'We are seeing quite high Septoria pressure at the site, and the soil is moisture retentive here so crops will keep going well into July.

'We are going to see some really visual effects from these new treatments, which so far appear to offer a real step-change in control.'