Crop protection and soil health to take the ‘SPotlight’ at 2021 trials

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has announced the trials taking place at its four Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms during 2021.

The four farms are located in Angus, North Lincolnshire, Herefordshire and Suffolk. The trials have been agreed on by a local working group of growers, agronomists and buyers with input from AHDB scientists on the latest information from research projects.

This year each of the farms has selected at least one project aimed at protecting their crop from pests and/or disease and another focused on improving the quality of their soil.

Head of Arable Knowledge Exchange at AHDB, Richard Meredith said: “These trials are a great way for growers to pick the items from our research programme that are most relevant to the challenges they face and try them out locally. We are hoping to host events at the SPot farms again this year, so growers and agronomists can come and see the trials in action.

“We are facing a period of unprecedented change for our industry and there will be challenges ahead as growers strive for excellence. In light of these challenges, we are proud of the impact that the AHDB SPot Farm network has on driving the industry forward.”

Will Gagg, Farm Manager at RJ and AE Godfrey AHDB’s SPot Farm North, said: “Without the platform that AHDB provides, we wouldn’t be able to share developments, insights and best practice with the rest of the industry. At SPot North we’ve been cutting back on nitrogen across the board as a result of the trials. There are some varieties where the reduction will be significant.

“The SPot Farm programme is an excellent way to test and demonstrate innovative practices in a commercial setting. I wanted to choose a trials programme for 2021 that would improve our business and hope that other growers benefit from what we learn along the way”

On the SPot Farm sites around Britain crop protection trial topics include aphid control, potato cyst nematode (PCN) management and blight monitoring. Soil health trials will tackle subjects from cover crops to compaction. You can find a full list of trials here.

AHDB has said that that 2021 events and meetings at SPot Farms will be confirmed after the result of a vote on the continuation of a statutory levy. The long term future of the project, where 92 per cent of attendees surveyed by the organisation say they improved productivity, costs or profitability after attending, is tied to the future of the organisation.

The ballot on the future of the statutory levy closes on midnight 17 March.

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