Despite a challenging few years in terms of growing conditions, Keith Challen, director at Belvoir Farms, Leicestershire has seen decent crop results thanks to the use of biostimulants, which next year he plans to use on every acre.

“Like most growers across the country, things are beginning to look a little dry for us on the Lincolnshire-Leicestershire border.

We grow a number of crops at Belvoir farms – including winter wheat, winter and spring barley and winter oilseed rape, as well as spring and winter beans – and despite the evident drought, the cereal crops are looking surprisingly excellent.

I must say this is surprising because to date (May 2019), we are around 150ml behind in terms of average rainfall and have had just 8ml since the beginning of April. In theory, crops should be looking terrible, but in fact, I’m quite excited ahead of this year’s harvest.

I’m sure you’re wondering, ‘so what’s the secret?’, but there is no complicated solution or magic potion, the answer is very simple…

I began looking at biostimulants a few years ago and was keen from the get-go. Particularly with Interagro’s product, Bridgeway, I liked the principle behind it and how it was produced and made from a plant-based source rather than animal-based– it felt nice to be using a non-traditional ag chemical product.

This is our third season using Bridgeway/Zonda on our crops and I think there is only around 2ac of wheat that hasn’t had an application of Bridgeway this year – showing our confidence in the product.

We’ve played with application and dosage rates over the past couple of years and last year used 1 l/ha across two applications which provided us with a 0.97t/ha uplift in wheat yield over the controlled plots. This equated to roughly £135 margin over cost – there aren’t that many things which will give you that level of return.

What makes last year’s uplift even more impressive is how well the crop performed despite the prolonged dry period. We put this purely down to the use of Bridgeway. It has proven to protect crops, particularly through stress periods such as drought, and so far we are seeing a similar pattern this year.

This season, we applied the product at T1 and at T2 and in hindsight, going forward we will be putting on more at T0. The plan was always to have two timings for applications, but research has shown that earlier timings are most effective.

Because of its suitability for use on organic crops, we have also experimented with Bridgeway on our organic elder plants and have found a noticeable influence on flower size.”

 

 

Next year, Bridgeway will be used on every acre of the farm. There aren’t many products you can say that about, but I have always seen either an increased margin over cost or benefit in terms of crop health. If there is an opportunity to save money – in terms of minimising crop losses - without disturbing crop performance, it is worth doing.

Keith Challen, Director, Belvoir Farms