NIAB has extensive capabilities and experience in practical field research related to all aspects of crop protection and nutrition. In addition to an extensive combinable crop programme, NIAB undertakes specific projects on root, vegetable and forage crops. Access to a wide range of sites across the country enables research to be undertaken in the most appropriate and challenging locations.
Work in this area spans pest and disease management, weed control and the manipulation of plant growth. Broad areas of investigation include:
- Pest and disease monitoring, from field experiments through to national surveys
- Management strategies for problem weeds, pests, diseases or cropping situations
- Efficacy testing of a wide range of foliar and seed treatments
- Evaluation and utilisation of new agrochemical active ingredients and products
- Development and assessment of cultural techniques for weed, pest and disease control, and their contribution to Integrated Pest Management
Core competencies in field trials and experimentation are supported by specialist laboratory services, enabling NIAB to work on naturally or artificially infected seed stocks, or disease inoculated crops using pathogen cultures and mist irrigation.
Appropriate nutrition is central to crop performance. Studies have a common objective of maximising productivity and profitability through efficient use of resources with specific research themes including:
- Measurement and monitoring of soil nutrient supplies and crop nutrient levels
- Identification of critical levels or thresholds for treatment
- Determination of crop yield and quality responses to fertiliser application, timing or dose
- Nutrient and fertiliser management strategies to optimise crop growth, yield and quality
- Evaluation and utilisation of fertiliser products or crop nutrient treatments
As well as plot-based experimentation, NIAB undertakes projects to develop and evaluate techniques for the targeted application of crop inputs, in response to soil or crop variation at a field or within-field level, and tools aimed at supporting practical decision making in the use of agrochemicals and fertilisers at a farm level.