Strategic Farm trial results - harvest 2020

On this page, you can find the results from the trials and demonstrations at the Strategic Cereal Farm East, hosted by Brian Barker, and the Strategic Cereal Farm West, hosted by Rob Fox.

Published at the start of Strategic Farm Week - Winter 2020, the details of each of the trials and demonstrations, including the background, layout, assessments, analysis, costings and key messages are contained in the harvest reports:

Strategic Cereal Farm East Harvest 2020 Report

Strategic Cereal Farm West Harvest 2020 Report

Headline results for each of the trials and the associated videos discussing the results are available below:

Strategic Cereal Farm East

Season overview

Video: An introduction to the harvest 2020 season and on-farm trials with Brian Barker and Teresa Meadows

Harvest 2020 trial results

How to manage lowering fungicide, trace element and biostimulant inputs and harnessing varietal resistance

  • Harvest 2020 was a low disease pressure season
  • Results showed that growing more resistant varieties with a low input regime gave the best net margin
  • There was a minimal yield response to increasing fungicide spend on the resistant varieties with the low inputs, showing the best net margins.
  • Highest percentage of septoria seen on the most susceptible variety, Santiago
  • More resistant varieties (i.e. Graham and Siskin) tended to hold onto green leaf area for longer

Full details in the report, p.9-16.

Boosting early crop biomass

  • Results show that there may be yield benefits from broadcasting kieserite and possibly TSP at planting where soil nutrient indices are low
  • Established plant populations in both fields were fairly low and crop development was slow over winter, due to the season
  • On Wyverstone Road, broadcast kieserite and TSP appeared to increase yield by up to 0.4t\ha, whilst polysulphate showed no yield benefit compared to standard farm practice

Full details in the report, p.17-20 and in the summer video.

Cover crops and water quality

  • Reductions in spring crop yields following cover crops were observed as a result of poor spring crop establishment (combination of slug damage and traffic on wet soil conditions)
  • Results demonstrate that a well-established cover crop is effective at improving water quality by bringing nitrate concentrations in drainage water below 50 mg/l

Full details in the report, p.21-27 and in the results video with Brian Barker (host) and Kate Smith (ADAS).

Very low inputs – how low can you go?

  • Results suggest in a low disease pressure season there is little benefit in increasing fungicide spend to improve gross margins

Full details in the report, p.55-56 and background in the summer video.

Repeat baselining across nine fields of the Strategic Farm

  • VESS scores either similar or improved to baselining assessments done in 2017
  • No change or improvement in total number of earthworms
  • Whole plant tissue concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and manganese levels were generally lower in 2020 than 2018, while magnesium concentrations showed a slight rise in 2020
  • Note: It is difficult to draw conclusions from data sets which are currently limited to two separate years

Full details in the report, p.57-66.

Strategic Cereal Farms East and West

Harvest 2020 trial results

Pests and natural enemies and flower strips

  • All fields exhibited different species abundance of invertebrate pests and beneficials, and no field could be considered ‘average’
  • Management options need to be applied to fit each field where possible, accounting for surrounding habitats, underlying conditions and existing management practices
  • There was no clear evidence in this study of an impact of distance into the crop on pest or beneficial invertebrate abundance, though there is a lot of evidence from larger studies that the number of beneficials reduces further into the field

 Full details in the East report and West report and in the results video with Brian Barker and Rob Fox (hosts) and Kate Smith (ADAS).

Strategic Cereal Farm West

Season overview

Video: An introduction to the harvest 2020 season and on-farm trials with Rob Fox (host) and Richard Meredith (AHDB)

The impact of cultivation depth on soil properties, rooting and yield

  • This trial shows the importance of moisture at drilling OSR. Minimal cultivations and direct drilling can help maintain moisture levels for better OSR establishment. Crops that are establishing slowly are at risk from CSFB attack
  • Poor plant establishment and fewer plants were found in the deeper cultivation treatments (15 and 30cm) than the shallow cultivation (5 cm) and direct drill treatments
  • In general, more CSFB adult feeding damage (as % leaf loss area) was found in the treatments with deeper cultivations (15 and 30cm cultivations) than the 5 cm cultivation of direct drill treatment
  • Fewer larvae were found on the deeper cultivation treatments (15 and 30cm) compared to the shallow cultivation (5cm) and direct drill treatments, in both November and January (P<0.05)
  • The average measured yield for the 30cm treatment was 2.22 t/ha with yield differences for the treatments showing: 15cm: -0.09 ± 51 t/ha 5cm: -0.70 ± 0.50 t/ha Direct drill: -0.53 ± 0.58 t/ha

Full details in the report, p.6-8 and in the results video with Rob Fox (host) and Anne Bhogal (ADAS).

The impact of summer catch crops on soil physical properties and performance of the following crop

  • In seasons like 2019/20 where the weather and soil conditions prevent crop establishment, growing a catch crop provides soil cover and captures useful amounts of nitrogen
  • Catch crops provide more consistent cover than leaving a soil fallow and capture useful amounts of nitrogen
  • Cover crop performance in July 2020
    • Stubble (control): 70% cover, 1.9 t/ha dry matter production, 49 kg/ha total N uptake
    • Beans/barley: 93% cover, 2.7 t/ha dry matter production, 91 kg/ha total N uptake
    • Phacelia/radish: 88% cover, 2.5 t/ha dry matter production, 78 kg/ha total N uptake
  • SMN decreased in the order Stubble > Beans/Barley > Phacelia/Radish, although differences between treatments were small and not statistically significant
  • The topsoil was also slightly drier where the catch crop treatments had been grown
  • Soil N supply higher where catch crops were grown

Full details in the report, p.43-47 and in the results video with Rob Fox (host) and Anne Bhogal (ADAS).

Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland

Season overview

Video: An overview of the harvest 2020 season at the Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland with David Aglen (host) and Chris Leslie (AHDB)

Introduction to harvest 2021 trials

Video: Introduction to the harvest 2021 trials at the AHDB Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland

Full details of baselining and the trials in harvest 2021 at Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland can be found in the baselining report.