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Biggest ever multi-farm wheat agronomy trial launched by BASF

Four Scottish farms have been selected from over 300 applicants to join the biggest farmer trial ever conducted by the crop protection manufacturer, BASF.
The farmers, all based in East Lothian and Berwickshire, will join 46 others from England and Wales to undertake wheat agronomy trials as part of a 50-strong ‘real results circle’ which will culminate with the gathering of wheat yield data at harvest time.
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 experts, AgSpace.
The Scottish farmers – all well-regarded for their progressive approach to growing arable crops – are:
  • Chris Leslie, farm manager at Cockielaw, Whittinghame, East Lothian, who previous worked for Scottish Agronomy and is a director of Scottish Borders Produce and of his local vining pea group.
  • David Fuller-Shapcott of Sweethope, Kelso, who has a self-confessed competitive streak, an ethos to grow for a known market and to drive his impeccably well-managed groups for yield
  • John Grimsdale, Mountfairm, Duns, who farms 2100ha in partnership with his brother, Aidan. Min-till was introduced to the farm in 1999 and the duo were early adopters of precision technology in the early 2000s.
  • Richard Cockcroft, Bowsden Hall, Berwick
BASF agronomy manager for Scotland, Scott Milne, said: “The trials will allow growers to learn about their own farm’s capabilities and be part of a multi-location national trial.”
ADAS and AgSpace 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. 
Crop assessment swill be made using a new digital technique for farm-based research developed by ADAS and AgSpace with the support of the British Geological Survey.
“The Agron mics 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” said ADAS crop physiologist, Susie Roques.
MR Fuller-Shapcott said he had agreed to join the trial to find out whether products were as good as manufacturers claim and proving if the investment is worthwhile.
“Trial results from the south of England are meaningless in the conditions found in the Scottish Borders so there is no more realistic trial than to test the products on the home farm,” he said.
Article originally published in Farm North-East magazine.

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