The first of the BASF, Monsanto and Yara 3x3farmer events has been held on the initiative’s two oilseed rape trialsites – Perdiswell Farm, near Woodstock (James Price) and Leverton Farms,Burton, near Lincoln (Terry Metson). In total around 100 farmers have visitedthe sites since the initiative was launched in September.
3x3is a technical partnership between the threecompanies to address some of the key challenges UK farmers face when growingoilseed rape.
Ata meeting at the Woodstock site, the theme of driving yields and controllingcosts was a topic that attracted a lot of interest given the current subduedmarket price.
Hostfarmer James Price explained that his oilseed rape yields have increased everyyear since 2009, with the exception of 2012/13. This yield rise reflects an increase invariable costs from 254/ha in 2009/10 to 407/ha in the 2013/14 season. Accompanyingthis, Mr Price has focused on reducing his operational costs from 202/ha in2009/10 to 187/ha in 2013/14 and put his total costs of production for the2014 harvested crop at 162/t.
“Yield is our biggest driver of cost pertonne and we must make the most of the farm’s yield potential as well as the seasonalyield opportunities to maximise output,” he said.
His target is to increase in the farm’s oilseedyields to 4.8t/ha from its five year average of 3.67t/ha and the 4.08t/haaverage from the last harvest, which would reduce the cost of production from162/ha to 134/ha. At a market price of 250/t, the five year yield averagewould return 88.15/t versus 115.83/t at the target 4.8t/ha.
Looking ahead to costs for spring 2015, MrPrice doesn’t see reducing input costs as a viable option. He said he felt thatto drop below his current seed rate of 50 seeds/m2 and to reduceagrochemical inputs would both be too risky, and that farm save seed was not anoption because he doesn’t want to lose the vigour and yield advantage of thehybrid varieties he grows.
He added that his fertiliser spend of 252/halast year would also remain the same, as would his variable rate nitrogenapplications of 170kg/ha.
Where he said he could make some cost savings wasfrom a “precision and prescription” approach to crop establishmentand input application. Moving from a three to a one-pass establishment regime,coupled with adopting variable rate fertiliser applications governed by Yara’sN-sensor, will make the biggest impact, he suggested. In addition, he hopesthat varietal strengths and use of pest thresholds will improve the efficiencyof his agrochemical spend (187/ha in 2013/14).
Commentingon the trial sites, Mark Tucker, Chief Agronomist-North East Europe for Yara said that the establishment of the 3×3 chosen varieties – DKImiron (a Clearfield variety), DK Extrovert and DK Explicit – had been verygood on both farms.
“The plants are at an advanced growthstage and, where placed fertiliser was applied this autumn, crop biomass isgreater and the spring nitrogen requirement will be reduced.”
“Six weeks post-drilling, the placedfertiliser plots resulted in an establishment rate of 92% versus 66% where nofertiliser was applied,” he explained.
Echoing James Prices’ view on precisionapplication, Mr Tucker said he sees that better targeting of nutrients could beachieved if growers started to routinely use canopy assessment tools like YaraImageIT and BASF’s Total Oilseeds GAI App next spring. BASF’s Will Reyer addedthat assessing leaf biomass would also be invaluable for targeting PGRfungicides like Sunorg Pro and the company’s oilseed rape specific PGR, Caryx.
The three partners plan to host furthermeetings on the two farms in the spring. Based on the key farm drivers ofyield, profit and sustainability, the trials and associated events will focuson two key pillars; good management and the need for a sustainable approach.