On a journey to net zero

Climate change champion Al Brooks is on the road to net zero and been utilising the benefits of  Newton to help maximise wheat establishment in his drought prone soils.

Al Brooks is Estate Director for Faccombe Estate in Hampshire which lies 330m above sea level on rolling chalk soils with a high flint content and a few clay caps that makes crop establishment a challenge.

Newton biostimulant seed treatment helps maximise our wheat establishment

Newton biostimulant seed treatment benefits at Faccombe Estate:

  • Significant root and shoot growth increases
  • Improved drought resilience
  • Higher yields

Getting roots down quickly is paramount

Getting roots down quickly is paramount and Al’s focus lies beneath the soil.

“We’ve been looking at how we can encourage plants in their early growth stages to push their energy downwards.”

He’s a strong advocate of using biostimulants to do so. “I first started using them about 10 years ago, when I was farm manager at the Waddesdon Estate in Bucks. I saw it as a way to reduce reliance on fungicides and lower the chemical bill,” he recalls.

“One year we missed a tramline with the application and noticed a difference in above-ground growth. But it was when we dug up plants we realised this was down to a massive difference in rooting depth and structure.”


Flint and chalk soils make it challenging for crops to put their roots down

HEAR oilseed rape treated with Bridgeway

Foliar biostimulants have been helping our crops put their roots down

Al has brought his experience to Faccombe, where it’s not just wheats that have benefited from this approach.

The farm grows HEAR oilseed rape, and like many across the UK, faces the considerable challenge of achieving a good establishment. That became particularly acute in 2019 as the already dry soils suffered a prolonged drought in Sept.

“A significant area looked horrendous, and as a last resort, we thought we’d offer it a little TLC in the form of 2 l/ha of Bridgeway,” Al explains.

“It was a transformation. The plants took on an altogether different colour, becoming much greener.”

“The smaller plants which had been looking particularly stressed, put out a more fibrous root system and the crop went from strength to strength.”

“We repeated the application in November and one field in this area turned out to be the highest yielding of our OSR crop, at 5.1t/ha, against a farm average of 4.8t/ha.”

Trials showed Newton helps maximise our wheat establishment

In the same autumn, the farm trialled a new biostimulant seed dressing for winter wheat –Newton – on KWS Kerrin.

Laboratory trials carried out at Nottingham University had suggested up to 77% extra root growth could be achieved. “These fields were second wheats put into a challenging seedbed in mid October.

“There was a noticeable difference in performance over the untreated – we pulled plants and the rooting looked so much better,” says Al.

“The trials showed, Newton biostimulant seed treatment really helps maximise our wheat establishment and boosts drought resilience in our chalk soils through the rooting benefits it provides.”


Newton biostimulant seed treatment helps maximise our wheat establishment

Wheat treated with Newton had a significantly larger root system than untreated plants

Download the CPM article here to read more about Al’s low carbon community.

Looking for more information on Newton?

Download our Newton Booklet here, with trials results, testimonials, and product information.

Newton biostimulant helps maximise our wheat establishment