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Recommended List user review revealed

AHDB have announced the results of their ‘Look Ahead’ Recommended List user review, concluding that a flexible variety trialling system that looks beyond headline yields is required.

The key conclusion from AHDB’s ‘Look Ahead’ activity was announced at the Agronomists’ Conference today by Jenna Watts who oversees the production of the Recommended List (RL).

 

Look Ahead examines how people use the RL and identifies how the variety trialling project can be improved. It has reviewed more than 600 survey responses, as well as feedback from numerous stakeholders at events throughout 2018.

 

The survey found that 87 per cent of growers refer to the RL booklet, and the clear majority (90 per cent) rated the RL as an important source of information.

 

Although treated yields and gross output were considered to be very important by growers and agronomists, many other features were considered slightly more crucial with disease resistance topping the list.


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Ms Watts put this down to changes to available chemistry. “As chemistry is lost and efficacy is eroded by resistance, farmers put a greater value on varietal resistance to disease. In fact, the whole variety package, including regional performance and potential market premiums, is being looked at more closely.”

 

“Headline treated yield remains important, just not as much as it used to be – today, optimum and cost-effective yields, not maximum yields, are king.”

 

Over half of those that responded to the survey were growers (52 per cent) and agronomists made up 19 per cent.

Ms Watts said: “One thing is clear: the industry is passionate about our world-class, independent variety trialling system and people want to see it go from strength to strength.

 

“There are many looming issues, including changes to weather extremes, disease management and government support, meaning this is the right time to look at how the RL is produced.”

Further information on the RL can be accessed via: ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/recommended-lists

The Look Ahead activity has generated a wide range of points to be considered. Four working groups have been established to provide advice on the direction on the RL:

  1. Resowing and recommendation process – This group will look at how the RL strikes a balance between quality, yield, agronomics, disease and economic performance.
  2. Number and location of trials – With 60% of survey respondents expressing a strong interest in regional performance data, this group will look at how trials are distributed and analysed to provide the most robust local information.
  3. New traits and breeding advances – A wide range of traits were suggested for measurement within the RL. This group will look to develop a flexible system that is able to prioritise and fast-track the traits most likely to bring the biggest rewards.
  1. Communication and knowledge exchange – The potential to use digital tools, such as Harvest Results interactive, and enhanced regional event activity will be explored by this final group.
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