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    Benefits of winter wheat seed priming focus of student research

    Posted 13 February 2023

    A young man - Harry Fletcher - in front of Buckingham Palace

    An aspiring agronomist is to examine the benefits of seed priming winter wheat using trials in the Harper Adams glasshouses as part of his final year research project.

    Harry Fletcher, 22, a BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management student from Admaston, will be carrying out the trials to find out whether the preparation method, which is already in use on a variety of other crops, can also be applied to winter wheat.

    He said: “Seed priming is the process of soaking the seed to the point where it is just about ready to germinate, then starving it of moisture and storing it at a low temperature to pause germination.

    “This then means that, when you drill the seed, it gains moisture and temperature and rockets.

    “This creates a more uniform and better-established crop.”

    Harry will be using the University glasshouses for his trial, where he plans to examine the growth and establishment of his primed winter wheat, comparing each to another set of unprimed plants.

    He added: “From this I can see the direct benefit of the primed seed - and will then work out costings of failed crops and the cost incurred if crops had to be redrilled.

    “I have chosen to research into this as it has been done for many years in lettuce and other vegetable crops.

    “Recently, the UK's first commercial primed oilseed rapeseed has just been released onto the market - so I want to find out whether it is economically beneficial to prime wheat seed, especially when farmers are faced with a drought drilling season.

    “I believe that with climate change increasing year on year it is important to have these kinds of seeds available, to encourage establishment later in the drilling season when faced with scorching hot summers like the one we've just had.

    While not from a farming background originally, Harry chose to study at Harper after hearing ‘great things’ about the University while studying Agriculture at college. He is now set to take up a trainee agronomist post with Frontier once he graduates later this year.

    He added: “I will begin with Frontier this summer and will be based on home turf in Shropshire. I look forward to beginning my Basis training getting out in the real world.

    “I was approached by Frontier about the position last summer after working for them around five years ago as a grain sampler, I strongly encourage anyone to take opportunities as they come because you never know what doors it may open.”

    Harry also honed his skills during his industry placement year, where he worked on a a large diverse arable farm on the edge of London.

    He added: “AT Bone & Sons, where I was on placement, farms 7000 acres of cereal crops across Hertfordshire as well as having huge involvement with a range of sports and amenity work carrying out football, rugby and cricket pitch renovations and construction as well as running a fleet of lorries.

    “I really enjoyed my time on placement as I was able to get stuck in with just about everything the business had to offer and learnt lots about running a large business first hand.”

    Harry chose to take his Agriculture with Farm Business Management degree to develop his business skills and prepare himself for a role in industry.

    He added: “Farms are having to be run as more like normal businesses now than ever, especially with input costs rocketing due to global factors.

    “I’ve had a great time at Harper, even if we’ve had a year and a half of Covid restrictions. I have made friends for life across the whole country, opened up lots of opportunity and embraced every moment.

    “The workload at Harper has been a challenge but nothing you can’t set your mind to. It has changed the way I go about things and has made me a more professional minded person. I look forward to finishing and beginning my career as an agronomist however I will miss being in around the people I love and the Uni life the most.”

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