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SUCCESSFUL CROPS OPEN DAY TO BE PART OF CENTRE FOR RURAL INNOVATION

Posted 23 July 2003

A VARIETY OF TRIALS and research projects went on display at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, last week for the 2003 Crops Open Day – despite the best efforts of the weather, which produced the wettest day in almost three years.

Around 100 farmers, agricultural advisers, consultants, researchers and trade organisations flocked to the event last Thursday, July 18, to find out more about the ongoing crop husbandry and agronomy trials and research projects.

The annual Crops Open Day will be one of the first of many initiatives, which Harper Adams will bring together as part of the Centre for Rural Innovation when it is launched in September. The Centre for Rural Innovation will encompass a wide variety of technology transfer and reach out activities taking place at Harper Adams and focus these efforts on providing support for rural economic development.

This year’s Crops Open Day was jointly organised by Harper Adams’ Crop and Environment Research Centre and NIAB Shropshire for the first time in its three-year history. Sponsored by the British Potato Council and the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) the event has now become a reputable source of technical information and knowledge transfer, for crop-based enterprises across the West Midlands and beyond.

Peter Cook, Head of the Scottish Agricultural College’s Rural Business Unit, delivered the keynote speech and there was considerable interest in the establishment of a disease diagnostic service – the plant health clinic, at Harper Adams.

Amongst other work on display was a minimum cultivation Spring Barley establishment trial, conducted for Lemken, which compared and contrasted three Lemken machinery combinations with three alternatives, during establishment of the crop.

Several factors were then closely monitored, including the degree of emergence during the days following planting, to demonstrate the efficacy of each method.

Dr Simon Edwards spoke about the latest results in his ongoing study of Fusarium Mycotoxins in UK Wheat Production. His research has already highlighted that region, previous crop grown, cultivation and the variety resistance rating to ear blight all have a slight effect on the contamination of grain by deoxynivalenol (DON) – the most common mycotoxin found in wheat fields during 2001 and 2002.

Dr Edwards’ ongoing research, funded by HGCA and the Food Standards Agency, will examine how the level of mycotoxin contamination varies from year to year and by comparing levels from fields of known agronomy he hopes to advise growers on ‘Good Agricultural Practice’ to minimise contamination. The work is also due to be replicated for barley and oats.

Visitors also had the opportunity to attend a spraying workshop, visit trade stands and benefit from technology transfer initiatives, which brought them bang up to date with the latest information on subjects such as Rhizoctonia Diseases of Potatoes, Water Management, Testing for Herbicide Resistance in Black-Grass, Lodging Resistance in Wheat, Forecasting Milling Premiums and Reducing Drought Stress.

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