Providing research access for four years to two wheat fields, working on a rotation, could transform the performance of a farm’s cereal crop and help to make agricultural land in the UK among the most commercially productive and environmentally sustainable in Europe, according to Rothamsted.
Scientists from the institute are looking for 20 farms spread across four regions in the UK to further their research into boosting wheat yields. They have found five farms in south eastern England, but still need 15 more in Hereford, Worcester and the Welsh border; south eastern Scotland and northern Northumberland; and Yorkshire.
Rothamsted agronomist Ian Shield says: “We’re after two average-sized fields per farm, from four to 15 hectares. Ideally, we’d like one that the farmer describes as ‘always good’ and another described perhaps as ‘I never know what to expect’.”
Three or four researchers would visit the fields about four times a year when crops have been sown. They would take soil measurements, recording parameters such as texture and penetration, and analyse samples for their chemistry. Weed and disease pressures would be assessed and they would also observe crop architecture.
Real data collected from the ground and imaging recorded from space promise a wealth of detail that will enable the researchers to compare their findings against predictions by mathematical models to rate the factors that influence production yields, according to Rothamsted.
Mr Shield says: “Participating farmers can have all the information relating to their own farms and, of course, access to our results. We would also need management records from farmers and any historical yield maps for the fields involved. And we can anonymise locations and data, if required.”
For more information, please contact Ian Shield directly: by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by telephone on 01528 938 630.