Tuesday, 12 July 2016

SPot Farm East 'Super Tuesday' Success! A summary of the Open Day...

Hi there, thanks for popping in!

All back home safe and sound, from SPot Farm East's flagship Open Day at Elveden Estates.

Well, that went well, didn’t it?!? Much relieved that you liked the demonstrations and trials too!

Lord Iveagh (pictured - right), owner of the estate popped in to say a few words and wish us well, which was lovely. 

Andrew Francis, Senior Farms Manager (also pictured - left) & Phil Burgess, Head of Knowledge Exchange for AHDB Potatoes, opened proceedings explaining how the Estate operates, the SPot Farm concept and why Elveden Estates, AHDB Potatoes and the Greater Peterborough, Greater Cambridgeshire Local Enterprise Partnership are collaborating to deliver this innovative concept. 
Then it was off to the field in buses to see the trials and demonstrations!


Marc Allison and John Sarup talked to the eight groups about sulphur and nitrogen.
You can see the weather looked threatening in the morning and indeed there were a few drops of rain. BUT then, much to my relief, the sun came out so umbrellas and ponchos weren’t needed.

The role of sulphur
The sulphur demo is sponsored by CUPGRA (Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association) and is a replicated trial with three treatments to determine the importance of sulphur nutrition in potatoes as follows:
1.            No sulphur
2.            Sulphur applied as S liquid at 125kg/ha SO3
3.            Sulphur applied as ammonium sulphate at 125kg/ha SO3

As you can see from the graph there has been no effect of these treatments on ground cover.

But with less sulphur deposition occurring, and a necessity to apply sulphur to just about every other crop on the estate, there’s a need to understand more about this nutrient in potato crops.

At later visits we may see signs of deficiency in some plots.

Nitrogen applications and irrigation interactions 

Looking at nitrogen, there’s great interest in the amount of leaching that may have occurred in what has been a very wet early summer.

Just how much nitrogen is needed by the plant and how much might be lost in these light sandy soils?

A topic for some discussion.
  • NIAB CUF have been measuring soil nitrogen at emergence and post-season at 0-30 and 30-60 and 60- 90 cm depths (combined with soil nitrogen sensors supplied by John Innes Institute at 30 and 50 cm depths).
  • These assessments have been made up of six different treatments with irrigation applied at different rates and frequencies. 
Soil nitrogen at emergence under Standard and Over-watered irrigation treatments (composite sample, all N in seedbed treatment)
Again there currently appears to be no difference in the foliage but my prediction is that we will begin to see the effects of excess irrigation (or rainfall) by the next farm walk in early August.

Irrigation for Scab control and soil moisture sensors

Mark Stalham, NIAB CUF and John Newstead of Delta-T led discussions on efficient irrigation for Scab control. The impact of different application rates were demonstrated.
Pre- and post-irrigation measurements were undertaken with Delta-T's Theta Probe (shown below) combined with Adcon (Agrii), Aquaspy and Elveden’s own probes to track pre- and post-irrigation soil wetting in both ridged and flat bed profiles.
Varietal performance against PCN
Jane Thomas of NIAB and Graham Tomalin also led discussion at the PCN site.  

This replicated trial (4 replicates) compares the performance of 12 varieties (including 8 partially or fully resistant to G. pallida) on a sand soil type with a known G.pallida infection, specifically looking at PCN multiplication (resistance) and yield performance (tolerance). 

All varieties are grown with and without a nematicide treatment – fosthiazate.

Linuron alternatives and knowing your weed spectrum
Graham Tomalin and James Howell  (Vegetable Consultancy Services) explained the herbicide trial (part-funded by Belchim Crop Protection, monitoring and demonstrating the efficacy of 12 different residual herbicide combinations options on weeds including mayweed, groundsel, fat hen, nettle, annual meadow grass, bindweed, knotgrass and cleavers. 

Some of the linuron free options performed very well giving some pointers to a future without this active. 

But it does look as if more thought will need to go into herbicide programmes in future. 

Graham stressed the need to know your weed spectrum before deciding on a control strategy. 

Weed Counts per 1.5 m of 1.82m bed – Planting 1: 13th June
Herbicides used: linuron (Afalon), pendimethalin (Stomp Aqua); metribuzin (Shotput), diquat (Retro), metobromuron (Praxim), clomazone (Gamit 36CS), prosulfocarb (Defy) and flufenacet / metribuzin (Artist).

So there you have it! 

A small taster of the demonstrations seen by the many visitors to the Open Day.  

If you're a fan of the social side of things, check out our Storify of all the activity on Twitter: AHDB_Potatoes/spotfarm-east-open-day

Quite a day, a lot to see, a lot to discuss and many reasons to come back and join the next SPot Farm East event which will take place on Thursday 4 August 2016. Sign up here 

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