Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Nuffield Day 16 -20 by 2020 - Foundation for Arable Research Site
Today turned out to be one of the most interesting an informative days of the trip so far. I met up with Rob Craigie, from FAR at Innovation Place just south of Christchurch. We set off in the drizzle to a field where the trials for New Zealand’s 20 by 20 project are being conducted.
The field is dry land, although there is the ability to water if required and reasonably well bodied silt clay loam following two years of clover. The trial site has three drilling dates, February, March and April. Which would equate to August onwards, back n the UK.
The trials were very in depth examining how the crop, the main cultivar being Wakanui, develops from the different seed drilling dates, populations and how they are managed. The results will be very interesting indeed.
The very early drilled crops were very forward and kept growing through the winter which allowed them to put on far too much biomass.
As a result many of the tillers died back and new tillers had to sprout out from the base of the plant making them weak and vulnerable to lodging. Some of this was managed in the trial by cutting and removing the biomass, and in the main field area sheep were used to reduce over all biomass. This could have a detrimental effect on the yield but it could be better than having the crop lodge.
One of the main trials is looking at higher nitrogen and fungicide use. This trial is applying an extra 100Kg of nitrogen to the crop and increasing the fungicide program. Some of the plants were very thick and there was some lodging; which made the plant growth regulator trials also fascinating. Chlormequat and Moddus mixes were being used at different timings giving some very interesting physical differences in plant height.
The fungicide trials were also showing some signs that epoxyconazole was not as effective against septoria as it used to be. Samples will be sent to the UK to check for resistance but the disease could take the shine off many of the plots final yields. The photo above shows an untreated plot that has sen almost stripped of any green leaf. Bearing mind 45% of the yield comes form the flag (top) leaf this doesn't look good. A huge thanks to the FAR team and especially Rob Craigie for showing me around the trial site today. I look forward to hearing about the results after harvest sometime around February.
I left Rob and headed on to meet Richard Green, and family, the director of Nuffield New Zealand who was my host overnight. During the conversation Richard suggested that I meet up with two other top arable producers over the next couple of days as I make my way south. The diary certainly is filling up rapidly now!