Grower groups test seed rates in effort to cut costs

Grower groups North Norfolk Potato Growers, Strawson Farming, South West Agronomy Group and WB Daw are trying out new recommendations from researchers at Cambridge University Farm (CUF).

Agronomist David Firman, leading the grower collaboration project, said the growers are testing out different seed and nutrient rates with the aim of reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

Firman, who has helped produce Potato Council's latest seed rate guide, said: "This is something that is very much an aspiration as a researcher - that your research does not just sit in the form of a report (but is) picked up and used.

"A lot of research is picked up very slowly by growers, so this is trying to accelerate that process.

"The crops that we are growing as comparisons are not experiments. It's on-farm work - growing a crop with modified agronomy."

He said several scenarios had already shown that reducing the seed rate by more than 10 per cent had no significant effect on total yield. "We were able to show that by using these new (seed rate) calculations there were opportunities to save on seed costs."

He added that two crops of Maris Piper planted by the growers - one with the standard 180kg nitrogen application and another with CUF's 140kg - so far looked identical. He added: "Of course, it's early days yet - we may find that the 140g crop may senesce early."


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