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Cereals Event practical trial plots to cover 13 areas of arable research

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 01, 2013

Visitors can get close to the latest work and quiz the people behind it to find out what key developments might be in the pipeline

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Hundreds of crop plots showing the latest agronomic developments will form the heart of this year's Cereals Event, which takes place on June 12 and 13 at Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire.

Researchers, agronomists and technical specialists will be on hand to give visitors an unrivalled opportunity to catch up on the latest science and update their technical expertise.

"The practical way in which this information is relayed has proved to be a very popular draw," said event director Jon Day. "It's a key reason why Cereals has become the nation's leading arable event. Visitors can get close to the latest work and quiz the people behind it to find out what key developments might be in the pipeline."

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany/The Arable Group is demonstrating research, breeding and agronomy to help farmers achieve the genetic potential of their wheat crops. Yields in trials are increasing by about one tonne per hectare per decade but farm yields plateaued about 15 years ago, said technical director Bill Clark.

"Wheat yield is strongly governed by rainfall and sunshine during grain filling," he explained. "But decisions on agronomic inputs, variety choice, crop management and cultivation can also have a large impact on yield and margins."

Soil health is another key focus on the NIAB stand, especially pertinent after the deluge last summer and autumn. The Hole Story will show how farmers can influence soil structure for optimum yields.

In addition, NIAB Innovation Farm plots will demonstrate a cross-section of scientific solutions to help use crops to combat food security and climate change.

Thirteen areas of research are featured in the HGCA plots this year – covering around 30 individual research projects representing over £28 million in collaborative investment.

One key area is the performance of fungicides against diseases of oilseed rape, wheat and barley in the light of new introductions and changes in the activity of existing products. The work also aims to identify shifts in the field activity of fungicides due to changes in the sensitivity of pathogen populations.

Another topic is mycotoxin management, highlighting several studies to improve the understanding of this problem, including better models to improve prediction of fusarium head blight. An integrated management approach to combat the threat of ramularia in barley is also on show.

Black-grass control also comes under the spotlight, including alternative chemistry to ALS inhibitors as well as cultural options, such as delayed drilling, seed rates and weed-suppressing varieties.

Other areas of research being showcased include phosphate management, plant-based lubricants, integrated disease management for oilseed rape and enhancing soil productivity.

Velcourt is hosting "genetic light harvesting" for wheat, which demonstrates work carried out at the John Innes Centre to introduce a wild wheat trait into commercial lines to re-arrange the leaf wax. The resulting plant reflects less light. "In field trials this has produced a 5% yield increase," said Velcourt's technical director Keith Norman.

The importance of a rotational approach to tackling weeds in combinable crops will be a key feature of the Dow AgroSciences stand. "With many weeds, particularly black-grass, becoming increasingly resistant to herbicides the challenge of weed control demands a broader approach than herbicides," said Stuart Jackson, weed control expert at Dow AgroSciences.

The approach will address seven key points including cultivation, varieties and rotation. The display will look at a number of key grass and broad-leafed weeds that are posing increasing challenges.

The event always attracts a strong contingent of Westcountry arable farmers. Tickets for Cereals 2013 cost £23 each (£19 for students) and are available at www.cerealsevent. co.uk. Visitors qualify for two NRoSO points and four BASIS points for attending either day.

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