Last year was the first time Frontier agronomist, Steven Penrice, experimented with biostimulants. But after it proved to keep crops growing, – despite the severe growing conditions of 2018 – he’s including Bridgeway in trials once again this year.

“Extreme weather patterns appear to be coming the norm, meaning there is an extra challenge for both agronomists and farmers to factor in when it comes to planning for the arable season ahead.

Last year, we had a cold and wet spring followed by an extreme drought, meaning many growers across the country were left disappointed at harvest time.

Interestingly, through my work as an agronomist for Frontier, I carried out trials and saw that where a biostimulant product was included in a programme the lack of rainfall had less of an impact on crops. It seemed that the use of the Interagro product – Bridgeway – had kept crops growing despite the lack of moisture.

Last season was the first time I’d used any sort of biostimulant, and I wasn’t sure what to expect as there were no visible differences on an oilseed rape trial plot that had received two applications of Bridgeway. However, noticeable differences were seen on the yield meter.

This year (2019), I have six growers trialling it, and probably a few more yet to come. While it’s too early to see the impact of Bridgeway just yet, what is evident is that crops across the country are starting to look a bit stressed.

Following a very dry autumn, we’ve not had a lot of rainfall over the spring – even in Scotland where rainfall is traditionally never in short supply. This means we are likely to head into another stress period, so the question at the moment is, will Bridgeway help plants to keep growing?

One plot of spring barley in particular, that we are running trials on, is on the cusp of looking stressed. We applied a dose of Bridgeway in early May, so it will be interesting to see if the organic nitrogen helps to green up the crop.

In terms of dose rate, we have experimented with lower rates, but it seems the 2 l/ha rate hits the sweet spot. Unless you’re doing 1 l/ha and three or four applications, just one or two applications is enough using a 2 l/ha dose rate.”

 

This year, it’s all about giving crops every chance at being as profitable as possible, particularly if we do head into another drought. While there is undoubtedly a cost when it comes to using biostimulants, at current crop values, a very small yield increase is needed to provide a return on investment – anything we can do to help a crop along is definitely worth doing.

Steven Penrice, Agronomist, Frontier Agriculture Ltd