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Student research to improve wheat yields

Posted 23 February 2015

Watch the video on our YouTube channel.

A final year agriculture student at Harper Adams University is investigating methods to help crop leaves to stay greener for longer, in hope of improving yields.

Laura Bishop’s dissertation project is entitled ‘the differential effects of fungicides on green leaf area duration (GLAD) in winter wheat’.

The 23-year-old said: “My project is looking at how we can use fungicides to help the leaf to stay greener for longer, meaning that the crop can photosynthesis for longer, potentially increasing the yield.”

Laura collected her trial data during her placement year at Syngenta, where she was able to access the relevant equipment and machinery, as well as expertise.

She added: “I marked out different plots for eight treatments – one control plot and then a variety of either new or older fungicides.

“I then sprayed at T2 which is usually the second fungicide spray, and assessed the crop every week until the leaves began to die towards the end of July. The crop was then harvested in mid-August and samples brought back to Harper Adams.”

Once back at university, Laura was able to grind her samples into flour to conduct nitrogen protein tests and produce initial findings.

Laura from Folkestone said: “Initial results show that the newer fungicides appear to be working better than the older ones.

“One interesting finding is that although historically the older fungicides exhibited a ‘greening effect’, it was not very evident in my work. This reduction in effect is something that has also been seen in recent years by other researchers.”

“So potentially, farmers could be selecting these fungicides for this greening effect yet not seeing an improvement.

“My research is important because we have seen little improvement in wheat yields during recent years, so if we can find a way to find a little extra, then that should be the end goal.”

Laura hopes to secure a career working either within the food supply chain, or as an agronomist. Her research will be completed later this year.

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