North and South success for Yield Enhancement Network entrants

Six AHDB-supported farmers growing crops in the north and south of the UK were awarded for their efforts to increase yield earlier this week at the annual Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) conference.

Separated by more than 900 miles, the most northerly and southerly prize winners in the UK both came from AHDB Monitor Farms.

Award winners

Howard Emmett hosts the Truro Monitor Farm in Cornwall at Tregaire Farms and won the award for the highest wheat yield in the south-west at 10.3t/ha.

Jamie Leslie, who farms at Scholland Farm in Virkie, Shetland, won the Innovator of the Year Award for initiating the Shetland Monitor Farm Barley Group.

This helped him achieve a 43% increase over the long-term barley yields for the islands. He also won the barley gold award for yield potential, achieving 58% of potential yield (estimated to be 13.6 t/ha) with an actual yield of 8.2 t/ha.

What’s more, four members of AHDB Arable Business Groups also bagged prizes:

  • Donald Ross (sponsored by Scottish Agronomy) and Mark McCallum (supported by AHDB) of the Black Isle Arable Business Group came second and third for wheat yield potential;
  • Hugo Lee of Sandystones, Roxburghshire, a member of the Borders Arable Business Group, won the gold award for his barley yield of 8.2t/ha.
  • John Billington of Adbaston Hall, Staffordshire, a member of the Bridgnorth Arable Business Group, won the bronze award for his oilseed rape yield of 5.9 t/ha.

Tim Isaac, AHDB head of arable, said: “I’m very pleased to see the AHDB-supported entries doing so well because I think it’s a great testament to their hard work and a really good demonstration of the value of our knowledge exchange programmes.

It’s important to stress that the YEN is a lot more than just trying to win a competition. It’s all about the extra analysis, the sharing of ideas and finding cost-effective improvements.

In 2018, AHDB supported 36 cereal entries and seven oilseed entries. Each entrant is strongly encouraged to put their YEN entries through AHDB’s online benchmarking tool, Farmbench, to fully analyse the implications for productivity and profitability.

Isaac said: “We support these entries because it helps us to identify and share best practice and for the growers to scrutinise everything they do on-farm, both of which are crucial in the drive to increase productivity.

“YEN is an excellent example of collaboration to address an industry-wide challenge and it makes a lot of sense for us to be a part of it.”

AHDB will be sharing the experiences from their winners within Monitor Farm and Arable Business Groups and through other channels during the course of the year.

Isaac added: “We all know that there are a lot of variables in farming and what works for one may not necessarily produce the same results for another, but hearing how some growers have tried new approaches gives others the confidence to try new things on their own farms.”