Originally designed as a simple crop trial to monitor how different establishment techniques effect blackgrass, the innovative case study has evolved into a long-term project, to show farmers how machinery, technology and expert advice can improve profits and overcome common industry issues.

Expertly managed by the FarmSight consultants George Whelan and Kris Romney at Burden Bros Agri, the project has seen a 33-hectare parcel of land on the Romney Marsh, Kent (kindly provided by Andrew Martin of Broad Stream Farming) with a history of blackgrass divided into four trial blocks. Zyatt winter wheat has been drilled at three different seed rates, 350, 400 and 450 seeds per meter square, with three different drills, a Sumo DTS, a John Deere 750A and a Väderstad Rapid.
On Thursday 27 June 2019, a group of farmers met with the FarmSight team and Agrovista’s agronomy and crop protection specialist Rob Purvis who, along with his colleague Andy Pendry, is scientifically monitoring and advising on the entire project, to see the full results of the tiller counts and blackgrass establishment rates.

The event, which has been organised in partnership with Agrovista, included a visit to the Agrovista Matrix trial on the Romney Marsh, where Rob discussed the efficacy of different chemicals and treatments on the presence of blackgrass. The group then moved on to the Total Crop Solutions’ case study for a pre-harvest crop walk.

“I think we are probably the only growers in the country wishing we had more blackgrass because it wasn’t much of an issue at the trial site this year,” said George. “This is really due to where we were in the rotation and is a credit to our host Andrew Martin who has really got on top of the problem.”

While there wasn’t a great deal to talk about statically in regard to blackgrass establishment, the group were able to look at the crop establishment and there was a great deal of discussion surrounding the different costs of establishment across the three plots.

The site has now been harvested and the FarmSight team is inviting farmers to come along to a harvest results day at Burden Bros’ Ivychurch branch on Thursday 7 November 2019 where final yield and grain quality data from trials will be revealed. This information will be combined with final figures for the total cost of establishment and production to give a real insight into the profitability of the different establishment methods.

“The trial is not just looking at how the different drills perform; it is a long-term project focused on future proofing agriculture and ensuring that farming continues to be cost effective,” said George. “We could all push for bigger yields, but it must be worth it financially. We want to be able to use data to help customers make the right decisions and to show them what is possible when combining the right machinery, technology and expertise. It is about much more than tractor and equipment sales; we want to go further to help our customers across all sectors and will be looking at ways to replicate the arable trials in grass management, top and soft fruit and potentially even vineyards.”