North and South success for AHDB-supported YEN entrants

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Six AHDB-supported farmers growing crops in the north and south of the UK were awarded for their efforts to increase yield today at the annual Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) conference (22 November 2018).

Separated by more than 900 miles, the most northerly and southerly prize winners in the UK both came from AHDB Monitor Farms.

Howard Emmett hosts the Truro Monitor Farm in Cornwall at Tregaire Farms and won the award for the highest wheat yield in the south west at 10.3t/ha.

Jamie Leslie, who farms at Scholland Farm in Virkie, Shetland, won the Innovator of the Year Award for initiating the Shetland Monitor Farm Barley Group. This helped him achieve a 43 per cent increase over the long-term barley yields for the islands. He also won the barley gold award for yield potential, achieving 58 per cent of potential yield (estimated to be 13.6 t/ha) with an actual yield of 8.2 t/ha.

What’s more, four members of AHDB Arable Business Groups also bagged prizes:

  • Donald Ross (sponsored by Scottish Agronomy) and Mark McCallum (supported by AHDB) of the Black Isle Arable Business Group came second and third for wheat yield potential.
  • Hugo Lee of Sandystones, Roxburghshire, a member of the Borders Arable Business Group, won the gold award for his barley yield of 8.2t/ha.
  • John Billington of Adbaston Hall, Staffordshire, a member of the Bridgnorth Arable Business Group, won the bronze award for his oilseed rape yield of 5.9 t/ha.

Tim Isaac, AHDB Head of Arable, said: “I’m very pleased to see the AHDB-supported entries doing so well because I think it’s a great testament to their hard work and a really good demonstration of the value of our knowledge exchange programmes.

“But, it’s important to stress that the YEN is a lot more than just trying to win a competition. It’s all about the extra analysis, the sharing of ideas and finding cost effective improvements.”

In 2018, AHDB supported 36 cereal entries and seven oilseed entries. Each entrant is strongly encouraged to put their YEN entries through AHDB’s online benchmarking tool, Farmbench, to fully analyse the implications for productivity and profitability.

Tim said: “We support these entries because it helps us to identify and share best practice and for the growers to scrutinise everything they do on farm, both of which are crucial in the drive to increase productivity.

“YEN is an excellent example of collaboration to address an industry-wide challenge and it makes a lot of sense for us to be a part of it.”

AHDB will be sharing the experiences from their winners within Monitor Farm and Arable Business Groups and through other channels during the course of the year.

Tim added: “We all know that there are a lot of variables in farming and what works for one may not necessarily produce the same results for another, but hearing how some growers have tried new approaches gives others the confidence to try new things on their own farms.”

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The Shetland Monitor farm is one of nine monitor farms established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the monitor farm programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.