Keep ahead of the challenges

For arable farmers trying to make their cropping plans for 2012 there is much to ponder over.

With hardly a dry day during the prolonged harvest season getting the crop cut, dried, stored and marketed was no easy task.

In some areas a later than expected harvest ruined plans to get a new crop sown before the winter, leaving, more work in the spring and possible congestion at harvest.

Growers further north in Scotland fared worse than those in the south, but the choices about which type of grain to grow, which variety and how much, are equally difficult.

To help them SAC and the levy funded specialist body HGCA have organised a series of Winter Workshops. Speakers will present the latest findings of research into cereals and oilseeds funded by HGCA themselves and Scottish Government.

The local event takes place at Thainstone House Hotel, Inverurie on Thursday, January 19 at 10am.

Disease continues to be a major challenge and this year SAC Plant Pathologist Dr. Neil Havis will give growers a very special view of diseases like ramularia leaf-spot that they will never have seen before.

Photographs taken during some new research and using various microscopes, will show how particular diseases enter and live inside attack plants. It will help a better understanding of how best to control them and new understanding of why diseases are able to become resistant to control measures so quickly.

SAC cereals expert Dr Steve Hoad will focus on the choice of varieties available, using the latest version of the HGCA and SAC’s Recommended Lists.

Three new spring barleys of particular interest to farmers growing for the malting trade (used to make whisky) are Odyssey, Chronicle and Overture, all of which proved to be high yielders in growing trials.

“Winter wheat growers will also be interested in Horatio”, says Steve Hoad.”It appears to be less prone to sprouting in the head, something that happened a lot in damp muggy weather of this summer and lowers the value of the crop”.

HGCA’s Crop Nutrition Research Manager James Holmes will focus on crop nutrition and getting the best out of inputs. The high cost of artificial fertilisers and new environmental concerns make it doubly important to avoid waste or polluting run off.

Many growers in Scotland also raise cattle and their dung or slurry makes a significant contribution to soil fertility.

The good management of soil has traditionally involved crop rotations so Dr Fiona Burnett and Ian Bingham of SAC will consider how oil seed rape best fits the system.

The Inverurie event is the last of three Winter Workshops being held in January. All three events are supported by the Scottish Government.

For more information and to book online visit www.hgca.com/events or call 024 7647 8724.