Farmers harvest crop knowledge at major East Anglian open day
- Credit: Chris Hill
More than 500 growers from across East Anglia gathered on a farm field to harvest valuable information which could help optimise their crop decisions – and their profits.
Frontier Agriculture, the UK's largest agronomy and grain marketing business, held a two-day "3D Thinking" open event at Walsham-le-Willows, between Diss and Bury St Edmunds.
Experts guided the visitors through new varieties of winter wheat, barley and oilseed rape, and offered forecasts on commodity market movements, with wheat production expected to bounce back this year after a difficult growing season in 2018.
Farmers walked through countless rows of trial plots to assess which wheat gave the best balance between yield and milling quality for making bread or biscuits, which barley was least susceptible to mildew or yellow rust, or which oilseed rape varieties produced the best cooking oil, or resistance to pod shatter or clubroot infections.
The event was also a chance to keep up to date with the latest machinery models and precision crop production techniques, including soil nutrient mapping and the use of satellite imagery to identify biomass variations across the field.
Andrew Melton, Frontier's regional agronomy sales manager, said the firm had been hosting crop trials at the Reeve family's Riding Farm site for 25 years.
"This is a heavy land site, so the growers get to see all the issues and challenges which that throws up for all of us," he said. "They do like the opportunity to see crops grown in their locality, and on a real farm."
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Senior agronomist Neil Leech added: "The key is simplicity. Rather than showing farmers detailed fungicide trials, this is simply 'treated or untreated'.
"It is agronomically-led, so all the tour guides are agronomists. It is not sell, sell, sell. A lot of the people here are growing these varieties anyway, but we are pulling out the subtle differences for them. We put a farm trader on the tour as well so they get both sides.
"Of the people visiting here we will probably clear 500 farmers over the two days, and only maybe two thirds of those will already be dealing with Frontier in some form or another. Hopefully they come because there is something worth knowing."