A new survey by Limagrain UK has revealed that arable farmers look to local variety trials over national demonstrations when it comes to choosing which varieties to sow next season.
The online questionnaire showed that 83% regard the information they gain from regional demonstrations as more relatable than those held on a national scale.
“This is mainly because local events offer the chance to see how new and existing varieties perform in local soils, climate, and disease situations,” said Limagrain UK cereals and pulses product manager, Tom Barker.
“Indeed,43% of farmers responding to the survey have attended a regional event with variety trials in the past 12 months, compared with just 28% that have attended a national event, such as Cereals or Arable Scotland.
“Around one quarter have taken part in an online trials webinar, such as those organised by AHDB, or NIAB TAG.
“Three-quarters of growers are prepared to travel up to an hour or more to attend a regional variety trial, and alongside location and practical considerations, such as date and time, the quality of technical information on offer is a major factor influencing the decision to attend,” he explained.
Growers value the opportunity to gather technical information on individual varieties and how to grow them, as well as being able to compare treated and untreated plots to see first-hand how traits stand up to seasonal pressures.
“Other areas of interest include; late versus early drilling comparisons, different methods of establishment, alternative fungicide programmes, and trace element/ micronutrient work,” Mr Barker said.
Winter wheat varieties were generally of most interest, followed by winter barley, spring barley, oilseed rape and a host of other minor crops.
“It is also clear from the survey that, while growers take information from a range of sources when making variety decisions, including independent bodies, breeders, agronomists, and seed merchants, the vast majority (93%) would confidently select a variety based on what they had seen or learned at a variety trial,” explained Mr Barker.
“We organised the survey to find out what growers want from trial events, and how we can tailor them to their needs in the future.
“It shows that growers base their varietal decision making on what they see or learn at demonstrations and trials, with regional events once again proving their worth as a place growers can go to gain knowledge and understanding of varieties.”
Limagrain UK hosts a series of events around the country. This summer’s programme will take place during June and July in five locations, including milling wheat trials on the Essex coast, and winter wheat trials in central Scotland.
For more information go to www.lgseeds.co.uk