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Crop trials show way ahead for arable farm

Craig Norrie was surprised by how much potential was left in the wheat.
Craig Norrie was surprised by how much potential was left in the wheat.

Fife’s highest profile field of wheat of 2018 achieved 63% of its potential yield and came 52nd out of the 210 fields entered in national crop improvement trials.

The hot dry summer meant the potential yield for Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) crops across the UK was down an average 2.5 tonnes, and 73% of crops were found to be limited by water, in contrast to a figure closer to 20% in “normal” years.

The YEN project crop on Banchory Farm near Kirkcaldy yielded an average 4.57t/acre across its 32 acres and the farm trial is being repeated next year.

Farm manager Craig Norrie has also established trial plots for 12 varieties which will be open to the public in July.

The field was tracked throughout the year in The Courier’s farming pages and as 2018 draws to a close Mr Norrie has studied the detailed 17-page YEN report on the crop which highlighted low nitrogen uptake and low sulphur levels.

Mr Norrie said he was surprised by how much potential was left in the wheat.

“I’m glad I took part so that I can see all the things I need to improve on. Obviously I can’t do much about the weather, but we’ll try to push the boundaries more this year,” he said.

“We’re putting in a lot of effort so we want as much as we can out of the project. I’m excited about the trial plots as well, to see if there’s a better variety than Zulu we can put in.

“The plan is to pick the top three varieties grown in the trials and grow 15-20 acres of each and the following year the highest-yielding is the one we’ll use across the farm.”

Other changes planned for the unit are a switch to liquid fertiliser and a higher acreage of wheat in place of malting barley.

The detailed report on the Banchory Farm field is available to anyone who is interested.

Contact nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk

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