iOSR Focus Site video diary update reveals issues
The new dedicated Syngenta iOSR Focus Site in Suffolk has had its share of problems with crop establishment this season. And now the first signs of Phoma have been spotted, bemoans Field Technical Manager, Georgie Wood.
However, whilst it’s not all perfect, and some of it is certainly not pretty, the multitude of agronomy ideas and techniques being trialled are already creating some clearly definable differences and useful pointers for growers and agronomists, she reports.
Presenting the latest findings in her video diary update, Georgie highlighted how drilling date has made such a huge impact on establishment - and enabling the crop to grow away from intense Flea beetle damage.
“Pest monitoring on the site revealed the surge in Flea beetle numbers in September – doubling in number week-on-week through the month; exposed later emerging seedlings were hammered,” she recalled.
“There was some respite in beetle numbers through early October, but we are still seeing high numbers now – which could check late growth in small crops,” she warned.
Norfolk iOSR grower, Chris Eglington, reported Flea beetle damage was worse than he’s normally experienced and, unusually for his farm, did require spray treatment this season.
Coupled with dry weather and establishment issues, for the first time he has concerns that up to 15% of his OSR area may not make it through the winter.
“The crop was certainly well behind where we would like to be for the first part of the establishment, but has for the most part recovered to be about normal for the end of October,” he added.
Georgie Wood pointed out that one of the iOSR Focus Site trials that put straw trash onto the surface did appear to retain moisture and reduce the incidence of Flea beetle damage, which has seen better establishment, compared to clean stubble plots.
“Some of the companion cropping has also provided cover from beetle activity and has been successful in getting plants established.
“But with the very dry season, there would appear to be greater competition for available moisture with some options, which has restricted the OSR growth,” she added.
Planting the cover crop between the OSR rows (above) looks to have had less impact, compared to cover crops sown in the row. Other options, including clover sown now to capture fertility through the season and provide a post-harvest cover, appear to be doing well.
Chris Baylis, iOSR grower with 770 ha of OSR on Sutton Estates' farms in Lincolnshire and Berkshire, warns the crop is becoming increasingly risky to grow, unless establishment issues can be resolved soon.
"Crops on medium loams, where soil moisture was adequate for establishment, look well and are at GS.18, normal growth stage for year," he reported.
"Unfortunately however the heavy land on the Humber bank has struggled, due to dry soils and delayed emergence."
At Newbury, Joe Dilibero direct drilled his OSR into the stubbles to conserve moisture, which is consistent with Chris' approach across the Lincolnshire Estate. After a series of farm trials, placement fertiliser has been used for the past five seasons, showing positive effects on establishment and autumn vigour.
CSFB pressure has been increasing year on year, with both Estates experiencing more than ever before, added Chris.
"I feel the most effective control measure is autumn plant vigour, through good seed to soil contact, direct drilling to retain soil moisture, placement fertiliser and using a fast developing variety'" he advocated.
On the iOSR Focus Site Georgie Wood highlighted the effects of establishment technique and particularly seed rates have also shown significant differences in plant establishment, and posed the serious question over the viability of the options through the difficult season.
“Once again some OSR growers are facing a real dilemma; do they take out areas of poor establishment, or leave them to see what happens?"
“No two farm scenarios are the identical, and we have yet to see what winter weather will bring. But the value of the iOSR trials site is that, in future, we can offer practical experience of how different crops and situations responded under these particular conditions,” Georgie advised.
You can follow the progress of the iOSR Focus Site with Georgie’s video diaries, or on the Farmers Guardian iOSR website.