Stress-busting solutions with Bridgeway and Zonda
Keith Challen, farms director at Belvoir Farming Company, Leics, is heading into another season of using biostimulants, and says amino acid products will be more important than ever this year.
“We’re a heavy land farm here – with incredibly high clay content – so stress is a regular occurrence. Whether that’s from waterlogging or drought, at some point in the growing season, our crops see stress.”
To compensate for this, Keith uses Bridgeway or Zonda as a “stressbuster” and says his crops have performed significantly better where it’s been used. So much so, that it’s now a consistent feature within his crop protection programme.
From his own on-farm trials, Keith says he’s seen around a 0.4-0.5t/ha uplift in yield as a direct result of using Bridgeway. “The more stressful the situation is, the better bang for our buck we get. In most places, we’ve seen a high margin over cost.”
Keith has also been testing Interagro’s new seed treatment – Newton – for the past two years and is about to start year three.
“Newton is a biostimulant seed treatment which improves germination, rooting and shooting, as well as abiotic stress tolerance and is approved for use in cereals – both conventional and organic. It’s another element of protection for crops facing stress.”
With Zonda now approved for use on organic crops too, Keith says he’ll be using the product on the organic elders he grows for Belvoir Fruit Farms. “Just like combinable crops, our elders also experience stress – whether that’s waterlogging, pests or diseases – but because of their organic status, we have a limited portfolio of products at our disposal.
“Last year, we did some trials using Bridgeway on our elders and we consistently saw bigger florets.”
Fig 1. Greener, healthier elder leaves after Bridgeway application.
Fig 2. Bigger elder florets following two applications of Bridgeway.
When using both Bridgeway and Zonda, Keith says he’ll be looking to target application as early as possible this spring to give crops the best chance in an already difficult season. “We’ve found that the earlier we apply the product, the better. If the crop does run into any stress, then it will already have the ability to cope better.”
Going forward, Keith is looking to push the capabilities of biostimulants to see if he can reduce reliance on fungicides.
“From a sustainability point of view, we’re going to have to use a smaller number of chemicals in the future, so I’d like to see if we can have a less robust fungicide programme because of using amino acid products.“In theory, if the plant is inherently healthy, it’s less like to need chemical intervention.”Keith Challen, Farms Director, Belvoir Farming Company