Arable farmers favour local variety trials over national demonstrations when making crucial decisions about what varieties to grow next season, a survey by plant breeders Limagrain UK reveals.
The online questionnaire shows the overwhelming majority (86%) regard the information they gain from regional variety demonstrations as being more relatable than from national events.
“This is mainly because local events offer the chance to see how new and existing varieties perform in local soils, climate, and disease situations,” comments Limagrain UK cereals and pulses product manager, Tom Barker.
“Indeed,43% of farmers responding to the survey have attended a regional event with variety trials in the past 12 months, compared with just 28% that have attended a national event, such as Cereals or Arable Scotland.”
“Around one quarter have taken part in an online trials webinar, such as those organised by AHDB, or NIAB TAG.”
“Three-quarters of growers are prepared to travel up to an hour or more to attend a regional variety trial, and alongside location and practical considerations, such as date and time, the quality of technical information on offer is a major factor influencing the decision to attend,” he says.
This shows growers value the opportunity to gather technical information on individual varieties, and how to grow them, he points out, although of particular interest is the ability to compare treated and untreated plots to see first hand how varietal characteristics stand up to seasonal pressures.
“Other areas of interest include; late versus early drilling comparisons, different methods of establishment, alternative fungicide programmes, and trace element/ micronutrient work.”
“It is also clear from the survey that, while growers take information from a range of sources when making variety decisions, including independent bodies, breeders, agronomists, and seed merchants, the vast majority (93%) would confidently select a variety based on what they had seen or learned at a variety trial,” says Mr Barker.
“We organised the survey to find out what growers want from trials events, and how we can tailor them to their needs in the future.”
“It shows that growers base their varietal decision making on what they see or learn at demonstrations and trials, with regional events once again proving their worth as a place growers can go to gain knowledge and understanding of varieties.”
Summer Demo Days
Recognising the importance of local information when making variety choices, Limagrain UK hosts a series of events around the country every year.
This summer’s programme during June and July features five locations, from our milling wheat demonstration on the Essex coast near Maldon, up to the Perth winter wheat trials in central Scotland (see panel for details of all events).
Every demonstration will showcase a range of new and existing varieties, alongside five new Candidate wheat varieties currently going through Recommended List approval. These include two potential biscuit wheats, LG Arkle and LG Grendel, and two hard feed wheats, LG Beowulf – the highest yielding feed wheat Candidate – and LG Redrum.
Limagrain UK’s Rothwell site will also feature the new winter barley Candidate LG Capitol, plus the highest yielding two-row feed, LG Caravelle, which joined the RL this year.