NIAB TAG’s National Agronomy Centre (NAC) initiative is an impartial platform to promote best practice for profitable, sustainable and efficient arable crop production and provides open access to research and practical information.
The NAC Open Days are a key knowledge exchange route for this provision. These free to attend events deliver a mix of indoor exhibits, seminars and field based demonstrations, providing objective information on a range of policy and agronomy issues, including variety and fungicides and weed management.
The Eastern Region NAC Open Day event was held on the 19th June at Morley (Norfolk) in conjunction with The Morley Agricultural Foundation (TMAF), with further events at NIAB Sutton Scotney in Hampshire on 25th June and NIAB Caythorpe in Lincolnshire on 3rd July. All events were delivered in partnership with the NFU and CFE along with a range of other participating organisations (including GWCT, PGRO, ADAS and others).
The Morley event featured a ‘bus stop’ tour of the latest agronomic research programmes in both oilseed rape and winter wheat; attendees were taken out to research fields and escorted round as guided groups with opportunity to meet, talk to and question researchers who are delivering the new research in both crops; the translation of this impartial research into practical guidance and best practice is a goal of NIAB TAG and the NAC initiative. Key areas covered over the day included:
- The latest winter wheat and oilseed rape variety information with Clare Leaman and Simon Kightley;
- New research examining soil management and structure with Nathan Morris (NIAB Soils and Farming Systems Specialist) and Blair McKenzie (James Hutton Institute). This work links in to current HGCA funded research;
- Current thinking on approaches to cover cropping with Ron Stobart (NIAB Head of Agronomy Knowledge Transfer and Training). The NIAB New Farming Systems (NFS) project has been examining the integration of a range of cover cropping strategies into farming systems and looking at single species, mixtures of species and a range of cover cropping objectives. Research is demonstrating improvements in crop performance and financial margin with specific approaches and is highlighting the key management practices and decisions needed for delivery. Further information on the NFS cover crop work can be found here;
- Management of weeds and resistance problems in both grass and broadleaf weeds was highlighted by NIAB weed specialist John Cussans and ADAS’s Lynn Tatnall;
- As ever the awareness of emerging disease threats is an important in maintaining high levels of best practice for disease management. NIAB’s Bill Clark (cereal diseases) and Tom Wood (OSR diseases) delivered the latest thoughts and findings on plant pathology and field management of key diseases including rusts and verticillium.
In addition to the field tours attendees at the Morley event were also given the opportunity to attend seminars looking at likely longer term policy changes (Anna Simpson, NFU) as well thoughts on future production challenges (Jim Orson, NIAB) and findings from the evaluation of long term NAC data sets (Stuart Knight, NIAB). These presentations will be available to all NAC supporters in due course.
In addition there was also a range of other static demonstrations covering aspects of environmental care, machinery choice/spray application and overviews of research in other crop types or disciplines not covered elsewhere in field displays.
If you would like any further information please email nac [at] niab.com