Three farmers met with two ADAS crop scientists in a stable at Falkland, Fife on November 2nd to review the farms’ current crop nutrition management and how best to improve it. The farms had contrasting approaches to maximizing profits; either maximising output or minimizing costs. The low cost farms are particularly looking for synergies, such as using frugal nutrition to inhibit disease, hence avoid the need for fungicides.
In reviewing their nutritional success in 2023, the farms’ main guide had been changes in their crops’ appearance – both canopy size and colour – from day to day and week to week. Sap and leaf analyses were also used but found hard to achieve comprehensively and promptly, and satellite images were too infrequent. Then yield comparisons provided an overall gauge of how well these management philosophies were working.
The farms’ main obstacles to better management were in making sufficient time to take and dispatch samples, delays in lab reporting, and uncertainties in how best to interpret results. Further challenges were in the laboriousness of entering data e.g. agronomic inputs, and then in assembling all relevant information so that conclusions can be drawn easily and confidently. Their dream is for an app that automatically gauges crop progress and suggests what’s best to do next!
The Club agreed to assemble grain analysis and agronomy data for a final review of 2023 and then to meet more frequently in 2024 to support nutrition management of the current crops.