Neil Cairns is crop production manager for the largescale South Coast vegetable grower Barfoots of Botley. He has three years’ experience of using Interagro’s Bridgeway biostimulant on organic crops.

We’re growing a range of crops including sweetcorn, courgettes, asparagus, pumpkin and tenderstem broccoli outdoors here on the south coast at Bognor, although the wider Barfoot group has other locations, including glasshouse facilities, on three continents.  We grow on both conventional and organic production systems.

So far, the 2019 growing season has allowed a good start to our cropping and we are up to date with planting and crop establishment. The lack of moisture had been a concern and some crops were showing signs of stress until this Wednesday’s welcome rain. Although it is not enough to reverse the soil moisture deficit, we can irrigate if there is another dry year. In fact, I’m more concerned about the current relatively cold weather which is holding back growth.

I’ve been using Interagro’s Bridgeway biostimulant for three seasons now, mainly on organic crops but also on some conventional ones too. Initially we used it on organic tenderstem broccoli and courgettes and have since extended it to those two crops in conventional systems plus pumpkins and a little on sweetcorn. We have been using about 3 litres/ha, split into more than one dressing, depending on the crop.

Certainly, the organic crops treated with Bridgeway become noticeably brighter and more vibrant, and we get heavier yields. Our own company trials in the first year recorded a 25% yield improvement in organic tenderstem broccoli treated with Bridgeway, and in 2018 I would estimate a 10-25% average yield lift across all the treated crops – these are substantial improvements.

The product keeps the crop greener for longer and allows it to make maximum use of the crop nutrition available – especially micronutrients – which is obviously important for organic crops. But without a doubt, it is effective on conventional crops too.

We have found that Bridgeway works particularly well in combination with digestate on the organic crops. Barfoots has its own Anaerobic Digester, which is fuelled by crop wastes from our packing house. We spray Bridgeway after a dressing of digestate – it is particularly good at scavenging the nitrogen in the digestate and preventing its loss through volatisation – good for the environment and a great benefit in the absence of artificial fertilisers.

The biostimulant concept definitely works and has made a significant difference to our organic production. Although it is a relatively expensive input, Bridgeway more than pays for itself in the growing of high value organic crops.

Neil Cairns, Crop Production Manager, Barfoots