Plant health on trial at Scotland’s ‘strategic’ cereal farm

Baselining and plant well being are the main focus for the primary yr of AHDB’s Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland programme, with a sequence of on farm demonstrations soil and plant well being, pests, pollinators and pure enemies.

Funded by AHDB, the undertaking convey cutting-edge analysis, new improvements and sensible farming along with the goal of constructing farming extra economically and environmentally resilient. The six-year programme will host a structured mixture of brief and long-term discipline and farm-scale trials and demonstrations.

David Aglen, farms supervisor at Balbirnie Home Farms, Freuchie, Fife, is the host of the Scotland strategic farm and is working with SRUC and ADAS to run the programme of exercise. He mentioned: “We are nicely underway with our baselining work soil and plant well being, together with pests, pollinators and pure enemies throughout the farm. We have additionally just lately began our first trial targeted on plant vitamin.

“Our objective is to use the suitable vitamins this season to enhance crop well being so it could stand up to any illness. We are whether or not or not plant well being may be improved by way of a tailor-made vitamin programme, and hopefully cut back, or dispose of fully, the necessity for fungicides.

“Throughout the rising season, we’re utilizing a refractometer to take Brix meter readings each week on the similar time of day, in comparable places in the identical discipline. A drop within the Brix measurement is getting used as a sign of a drop in plant well being.

“Brix is already used within the livestock sector to evaluate colostrum high quality and within the horticulture sector to have a look at sugars in vegetation. It’s a fast, easy and efficient answer, and the meters are usually not costly both.

“When the meter worth falls under the brink of 10, instant tissue testing follows. A bulk tissue pattern is shipped off for evaluation and the outcomes are despatched again to the trials group inside a few days.

“We then decide as to which micronutrients or macronutrients must be added to appropriate any nutrient deficiencies which were recognized within the crop,” he added.

Chris Leslie, AHDB’s arable information alternate supervisor mentioned: “Brix meter readings present a fast snapshot of crop well being; we’re merely utilizing the sugars as a sign of the plant’s well being standing all through the season.

“Our goal is to enhance plant well being utilizing testing and evaluation in order that it’s not impacted by illness to the identical extent. Tissue testing is a crucial a part of IPM and is an efficient approach of measuring what is definitely moving into the plant. It permits deficiencies to be recognized earlier than signs are seen or yield is affected.

“We are utilizing it as the premise of the vitamin trial to assist us higher perceive seasonal plant well being adjustments and the crops’ vulnerability to illness.”

No fungicides will probably be used within the Brix-led strategy. This is to see if vitamin alone can enhance plant well being sufficient to face up to illness. The first yr will probably be baselining exercise and some years’ knowledge is required to have the ability to make any correlations between plant well being and Brix.

Brix may be affected by adjustments within the climate which is why it’s taken so repeatedly, and tissue testing carried out when there’s a pattern of diminished values over a brief interval.

This yr, the trial is being run on one winter wheat discipline at Balbirnie. However, it is going to be replicated in future years to gather extra knowledge and additional discover the connection between crop well being and vitamin, utilizing Brix and tissue testing extra totally.

The vitamin trial has been set in a discipline of Istabraq winter wheat and can use tailor-made dietary remedy primarily based on plant deficiencies deduced from the tissue evaluation and Brix assessments – no fungicide.

Other crop assessments will embody GAI, biomass, plant counts and foliar/stem illness assessments.

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