Monday, 15 May 2017

Looking forward to another successful season at SPot Scotland with Knowledge Exchange Manager, Claire Hodge:

Planting is now complete on our commercial scale demo plots. We recently reported on successful cultivations demonstrations held at Bruce Farms last season, which showed that reduced cultivation depths resulted in lower costs and a higher yield. The excellent current conditions are perfect for reduced cultivations, we have used them at Bruce Farms and I would hope that this becomes standard practice.

Early signs are that our current work on cover crop use is also producing positive results. The aim when planting cover crops, in this instance, was to improve soil structure, reduce lying water over winter, and therefore make the soil easier to cultivate. While the ground did not get a serious challenge this winter, we could notice a difference between the land that had benefitted form cover crops and the land that had not. It will be interesting to monitor this as the season continues.
Overall things are going well and we are ahead of where we were this time last year. I expect there may be one or two growers who are challenged by dry conditions and looking forward to the forecasted showers over the next few weeks.

It is particularly beneficial to talk to other farmers at our events or when we are out and about. This season we are acting on advice given from local growers and are introducing a triple tiller.  The hope is that it will further reduce costs and increase yields. We will watch with interest and report on what we find.

I am looking forward to catching up with growers the Open Day at Bruce Farms on the 18th July. I am happy to contribute to discussions on the triple tiller, cultivations depths or our other on-going trial areas such as nutrition and seed rates.

We have morning and afternoon sessions available for our Open Day on 18 July, you can register for either session by clicking here 

It would be great to see you all there!

Friday, 5 May 2017

2017 season kicks off at SPot East, Elveden

Read the first blog from SPot East by guest blogger and AHDB Potatoes Knowledge Exchange Manager, Phil Burgess.

Planting has been completed on all trial and demonstration areas, other than one small area, which has been delayed in order to test our herbicide programmes to the limit and provide the best demonstration when it comes to our open day visits.

Dr Mark Stalham and his team have been busy implementing some complex studies on the timing and fate of Nitrogen. The biggest challenge has been trying to find the balance that keeps the trials scientifically robust and keeping the irrigation regimes workable in a commercial setting, but they’re all in place now, so far so good!

We all know it’s been very dry so far this spring. Which should provide a really robust test of the irrigation regimes on the full range of varieties. At least I’m pleased!

Increasing tuber numbers is a subject of much discussion at Elveden, and as the onsite agronomist the onus lays with Graham Tomalin. Graham and his team have been working hard, planning small plot trials aimed at manipulating tuber numbers. But like on most farms, they’re always asked to produce more! So this demonstration aims to show what can be achieved in both salad and processing crops.

Farm manager, Andrew Francis is as you would expect, always in the thick the action. This year he has brought a number of machines on to the farm, which are designed to reduce run-off. An area that we hope to include in the Spot farm activity this season.

So it’s all action at SPot East. See here or here 

We look forward to seeing you at Elveden during the summer. All the events for SPot farm East are listed below, to register simply click on the link.

SPot farm East - Field Walk - 22 June 2017 

SPot farm East - Open Day - Thursday 6 July, 2017 
Morning session
Afternoon session

SPot farm East – Field Walk – 3 August 2017