Pushing up yields with YEN

Some of Scotland’s top arable farmers recently visited some record-breaking farmers down south to find out how they achieve their incredible yields.

The Scottish YEN Growers Group is made up of farmers who are all taking part in the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) which is run by ADAS and supported by AHDB.

As well as in depth technical support and free soil and grain testing, farmers taking part in the YEN can also enter the national competition which awards prizes not just for the highest yield but to those farmers getting closest to their own farm’s yield potential.

Over the course of two days the group – which includes many previous YEN Award winners – visited Lincolnshire farmers Tim Lamyman and David Hoyle, as well as the Rothamsted Research Institute.

David Hoyle focuses on running his farm as a business where poorly performing crops are quickly replaced while Tim Lamyman’s focus is more about how to get his crops yielding as high as they possibly can. Both farmers have won awards for yields as part of YEN.

At Rothamsted the group got a glimpse of the organisation’s sample room, where samples from all the long running experiments are kept (going back to the 1800s). In fact, the Institute boasts the world’s longest running experiment – winter wheat grown in different ways – which has been on the go since 1876.

The visit highlighted some of the ways growers can increase their yields, as group member and ADAS scientist Sarah Kendall explains:

“We’ve analysed all the YEN data and one of the consistent things we are finding – which is something Tim is very much pushing – is that crops with high ear numbers are positively associated with yield.

“Also, we take samples of the crop at harvest, and that has shown us that crops with a high biomass are positively associated with yield.

“So really we should be managing the crop with those targets in mind.”

This year’s Yield Enhancement Network Awards will be held in November and we’ll be sharing tips from the winning growers in the next issue of All About Scotland.