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The best of arable innovation at YEN conference

Some of the UK’s best arable innovators came together at this year’s Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) competition in Harrogate to showcase how benchmarking leads to success. Alice Dyer reports.

The prolonged dry weather of 2018 saw yields fall to the lowest on the YEN's five year record.
The prolonged dry weather of 2018 saw yields fall to the lowest on the YEN's five year record.

Now in its fifth year and attracting more entrants than ever, the YEN aims to drive understanding of yields and inspire initiatives for improvement across the industry to break the yield plateau.

 

Tim Lamyman of Lincolnshire won gold in best field yield for both the cereals and oilseeds category, achieving yields of 16.2t/ha with the winter wheat variety Marsden and 6.4t/ha with an OSR crop of Sparrow.

 

Mr Lamyman, who broke the rapeseed world record this year, put his winning yields down to good varietal selection and early applications of nutrients.

 

“The crop received five applications of nitrogen - we use a little and often approach. It is definitely one of the things that helped build yield this year with the drought coming fairly quick. A lot of people hadn’t got nitrogen on but we got it on early and applied it right through season.”

 

Best per cent of potential yields was won by Andrew Hunt of Norwich who topped the scale achieving 103 per cent of 10.9t/ha with the rye variety Phoenix.

 

The oilseeds best per cent of potential yield award went to international entrant Soren Lykkegaard Hansen of Denmark, who achieved 66 per cent of 6.9t/ha and believed drilling early for good root structure was key to his success.

 


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Barley yields almost doubled

 

Scotland led the Innovator awards, with Jamie Leslie from the Shetland Islands achieving a 43 per cent increase in local long-term yields after initiating the Shetland Monitor Farm Barley Group. Mr Leslie also won gold in the best per cent of potential yield reaching 58 per cent of 13.6t/ha in the barley category, which was new to 2018.

 

Best barley field yield went to Hugo Lee of Jedburgh at 8.2t/ha.

Also commended for innovation was Kirkcaldy farmer Craig Norrie for publicising progress of his first YEN entry to create local interest, and James Hopkinson of Kirriemuir for reshaping an arable system to reduce inputs and utilise livestock.

Yields held back by dry conditions

 

Fortyeight per cent of farmers attending the conference said that their yields were below farm average but better than expected. This was reflected in the YEN’s overall results which saw the average yield of all wheat crops at 10.3t/ha, down 0.8t/ha from last year and lower than in all five previous competitions.

 

Daniel Kindred of ADAS put this down to the exceptionally dry summer: “Water availability limited 73 per cent of YEN potential cereal yields, whereas normally that figure is around 20 per cent. Until May crops were fine, but the biomass we ended up achieving was low which resulted in small grains but a reasonable harvest index (54 per cent) and a high specific weight (78kg/hl). By and large cereal yields have been surprisingly high this season.”

 

While 2018 had very good oilseed yield potential, yields were let down by seed filling conditions. The highest yielding crops flowered early and desiccated later with nine extra days from flowering to desiccation between the bottom 50 per cent and top 50 per cent of yield results.

Nutrient levels also presented some interesting results.

 

“Magnesium levels in the soil seem to be an important factor,” said Sarah Kendall of ADAS. “The bottom 50 per cent of yields had what we thought would be an adequate amount of magnesium (averaging 78mg/l) available to the crop but the top 50 per cent definitely seemed to have higher levels (191mg/l). The amount of nitrogen and sulphur applied did not correlate with yield, but timing appeared to be more important. Oilseed yield had a really good potential but at the end of the day were very average.” In total 62 yields were taken from the UK, Denmark and Sweden, averaging 4.6t/ha.


Winners

Winners

 

Cereals Best Field Yield t/ha

  • GOLD: Tim Lamyman, Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons 16.2
  • SILVER: Tim Lamyman, Lincolnshire sponsored by Limgrain UK 15.4
  • BRONZE: David Hoyles, Lincolnshire, Independent entry 14.1

Best % of Potential Yield – fields % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Andrew Hunt, Norwich, sponsored by Hutchinsons 103% of 10.9
  • SILVER: Donald Ross, Ross-shire, sponsored by AHDB 98% of 10.8
  • BRONZE: Mark McCallum, Ross-shire, sponsored by AHDB 96% of 11.5

Best Plot Yield t/ha

  • GOLD: Mark Doble, Oxfordshire, sponsored by BASF 14.8
  • SILVER: Jack Hill, Lincolnshire, sponsored by Bayer 13.1
  • BRONZE: John Keer, Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons 12.1

Best % of Potential Yield – plots % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Mark Doble, Oxfordshire, sponsored by BASF 99% of 15.0
  • SILVER: Vibeke Fabricius, Odder, Denmark, sponsored by Hutchinsons 87% of 11.8
  • BRONZE: Ben Giles, Oxfordshire, sponsored by Bayer 66% of 17.5

Oilseeds Best Field Yield t/ha

  • GOLD: Tim Lamyman, Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons 6.4
  • SILVER: Alan Clifton-Holt, Romney Marsh, sponsored by Adama 6.2
  • BRONZE: John Billington, Stafford, sponsored by AHDB 5.9

Best % of Potential Yield – fields % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Soren Lykkegaard Hansen, Denmark, sponsored by Monsanto 66% of 6.9
  • SILVER: Chris Wood, North Yorkshire, independent entry 60% of 8.6
  • BRONZE: Tim Lamyman, Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons 52% of 12.3

Best Plot Yield seed, t/ha

  • GOLD: Michael Farr, Oxfordshire, sponsored by DSV 5.2
  • SILVER: Michael Farr, Wiltshire, sponsored by DSV 4.8

Best % of Potential Yield – plots % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Michael Farr, Oxfordshire, sponsored by DSV 43% of 12.0
  • SILVER: Michael Farr, Wiltshire, sponsored by DSV 40% of 12.1

Innovation Awards

  • Innovator of the Year: Jamie Leslie, Shetland

Barley Best Field Yield t/ha

  • GOLD: Hugo Lee, Jedburgh, sponsored by AHDB 8.2

Best % of Potential Yield % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Jamie Leslie, Shetland, sponsored by AHDB 58% of 13.6

 

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