Last week I visited the annual Cereals Event 2019 in the UK and here are some of the key insights i gathered from the show
Belkar Canola herbicide
The picloram + halauxifen mix has been used on farm this season in some countries, and the reports are good. This was the first time I had seen it on a similar spectrum of weeds to us with Cleavers, Fathen and Shepherd’s Purse very well controlled.
Belkar also has useful activity on Gallant Soldier and Thistles, but we will need to see how it shapes up on Amaranthus.
Also on the Corteva stand and in local independent trials was the new fungicide Inatreq (fenpicoxamid). Clearly the real deal on Septoria and with no cross resistance to any fungicide groups currently on the market, this should hopefully feature strongly when it gets to Kenya.
Having seen the current standard of Septoria fungicides against the coming generation including Adepidyn and Revysol, the difference is night and day.
New Spring Barley Varieties
Whilst we are still in the process of putting RGT Planet through National Performance Trials, it is important to look further ahead to what happens 5 or 10 years ahead.
Barley varieties we know tend to travel and perform well, and the similar climate in the United Kingdom lends itself to spotting up and coming new varieties.
Cosmopolitan from Senova is a few percent ahead of Planet in yield and is currently undergoing malting trials, however the variety is slightly more prone to lodging and has a notably lower specific weight.
LG Diablo had looked encouraging with both yield and good all round disease resistance, but malting tests have shown it to be more suited to distilling for the whiskey market.
Firefoxx and SY Splendor certainly take yields a step above Planet, along with early maturity and stiff straw, so we watch with interest how these perform.
BASF next generation Urea coating
BASF has launched Limus, a urease inhibitor containing two active ingredients for more consistent performance. By blocking the activity of the enzyme Urease in the soil, the conversion to Ammonia is slowed and volatilisation reduced.
Generally speaking our volatilisation losses are less than many people think so I am not a great advocate of controlled release fertilisers under most of our conditions, but at times this protection is useful to have, such as when expected rain doesn’t arrive after topdressing.
For farmer in Kenya looking at notill seeders for small grains, the choice is three fold; buy a delicate but accurate European/US machine which may have trouble following contours if its anything over 6m wide; buy a robust Australian machine that will cover the acres, moisture seek but leave well defined waterways down the field, or a South American double disc that will slice through most residue but struggle to close the seed slot behind it.
In truth there is no one seeder that will do everything, but some provide far more options across a range of conditions.
First up, the Sky Easydrill from France has a useful ability to follow contours, a single disc that reduces the risk of hairpinning, individual variable rate seed and fertiliser pipes and a proper closing wheel with both pressure and adjustment.
The MA/AG double disc seeder from Ryetec caught the attention of the notill crowd with its high coulter pressure, floating seed firmer, individual parallelogram coulter linkage and high downforce closing wheels. Separate seed and fert placement and heavy duty build make this an interesting proposition for Kenya.
Horsch’s Avatar from Germany is an improvement on the John Deere 90 series, with higher downforce to get into trash and dry soil, and a side gauge wheel to regulate the depth. Reports from those using it are that it handles residue well and is far more accurate than most single disk seeders, but the lack of individual coulter movement restricts the width of the machine.
Weavings GD with an angled or undercut double disc has been proving excellent and handling residue on many farms and causing much less compaction around the seed slot, however seed depth is erratic especially with larger seeded crops such as peas, which can tend of get stuck on the side of the angled slot rather than falling in vertically. Individual hydraulic coulter pressure, is a big plus for wider machines.
The Sly Boss continues to be well thought of, and the range of machines at the event showed why. The single angled disc is followed by a proper press wheel, with the option for a separate fert tube and even a liquid kit for in-furrow injection. Individual coulter pressure adjustment
Dale showed the latest Eco Drill, which is a tine machine with individual parallelogram linkage for the coulters. The configuration of the tines is extremely flexible with a double (duet seeding) arrangement, a leading fertiliser tine or a wider row space depending on the crop and the residue. Press wheel configuration is arguably too generalised to work well in all conditions, but we liked the proper firming pressure for each coulter and the range of set up options for the seeder.
For a solid and reliable tine seeder, do not discount Ndume who custom build some very well thought through pieces of kit, and Horsch Sprinters which can be picked up to import 2nd hand for two million Shillings.
Soil Pit; how do your roots shape up?
The stand out lesson from the soil pit was not the difference in root growth between the various crops and cover mixes, but the astonishing yields that are achieved on what are very thin, stoney soils.
Years of rotation and a gradual reduction in the intensity of cultivations sees healthy roots heading right down into the limestone layer where they will still scavenge for moisture and nutrients. Yields of 10 t/ha (45 bags per acre) of wheat are the norm, with canola, peas, faba beans, linseed and maize all featuring.
Metobromuron Potato Herbicide
Relatively new potato herbicide metobromuron from FMC was shown off in various pre em mixtures as a replacement for Linuron which has been withdrawn in some European countries. Very useful control of Brassicas (wild Radish and volunteer canola), Fat Hen, Nightshade, Bindweed and Setaria Grasses are the strong points so would make a very good fit for areas around Nyeri, Nyahururu and Timau if it eventually gets to Kenya.
Crop safety is good and it plugs many of the weed gaps in metribuzin – mixtures with flufenacet and metribuzin look particularly good, and on intolerant varieties or very light soils a mixture of metobrumuron, flufenacet and a low dose of clomazone would be as safe as one could expect.
Lessons in high yielding Barley
Harvesting 8-9 t/ha (35-40 bags/acre) has become the norm for many barley growers in the UK, Denmark and France. So what lessons can we apply to modern varieties?
Dr Syed Shah and Steve Cook from NIAB TAG have been examining nitrogen rates and timings in Planet and Laureate compared to older varieties, and believe that for a soil with around 80kg/ha of mineral nitrogen the optimum rate is between 150 and 200kg/ha (yes, 370kg of Urea on top of 25kg of N in the seedbed for example).
“This is the fourth year of trials around the UK and grain nitrogen has never gone above 2%. We are increasingly seeing that modern varieties need a significant proportion of the nitrogen applied by the two leaf stage to promote tillers and get ear numbers established.”
The resounding conclusion is that late tillering is too late, and that any lodging risk can be acceptably managed by seed rate and growth regulators.
“Seed rates need to be continually assessed for the newer varieties. We are frequently surprised at how much greater the optimum seed rate is than what we would expect on many sites” added Mr Cook.
Potash was also under the spotlight with reductions in lodging seen from fresh seedbed potash applications, even where soil levels are as high as 400ppm.
Farming for the future requires a change of approach. Monoculture, soil degradation and climate change and soil degradation are threats to the futureof how we feed the planet. Agventure Ltd set up the Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation to help farmers diversify cropping systems and introduce techniques which have a long-term outlook to improve soil health. The Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation works extensively with Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd (CropNuts).
Till next time,
David Jones is the Broad Acre Specialist at Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd. (CROPNUTS). David has a keen interest in soils and no till farming systems where he has undertaken work looking into weed levels and changes in soil structure, and has extensive experience in field trials and in the development of precision farming techniques. In his spare time he enjoys playing rugby.