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HGCA Agronomists’ Conference programme

Input management for 2014 and beyond

Tuesday 10 December 2013 (10:00-16:00), Peterborough Arena

The HGCA Agronomists’ Conference 2013 is looking at managing farm inputs to reduce costs and optimise crop yield and quality.

“Market and weather volatility mean that growers are looking at input costs. These are more amenable to control by growers and can help reduce the cost of production and increase marketable yields”

Susannah Bolton, HGCA Head of Research and Knowledge Transfer

Programme (now online)

  • Fungicide performance in wheat and barley – Jonathan Blake, ADAS
  • Disease management in oilseed rape – Bruce Fitt, University of Hertfordshire
  • Impact of azole resistance on strategies for disease management – Hans Cools, Rothamsted Research
  • Herbicide-resistant weeds: lost battles and war-winning tactics – Stephen Moss, Rothamsted Research
  • Managing insecticide resistance: the good, the bad and the ugly – Steve Foster, Rothamsted Research
  • Shaping the direction of arable research (2015-2018) – Vicky Foster, HGCA
  • Grain market prospects for 2014 – Charlotte Garbutt, AHDB-HGCA
  • Efficient use of phosphate – James Holmes, HGCA
  • Hitting market specifications – variety x agronomy x weather interactions – Simon Oxley, HGCA
  • GM in the UK: is there a future?  – Vicky Foster, HGCA

Attendance costs £45.

Book now

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Oilseed rape disease forecasts

Phoma and light-leaf spot forecasts for the 2013/14 season are now available from Rothamsted Research.

Overall, the predicted risk of disease is lower than in recent years but the stage of crop development in the field may result in high disease pressure.

Early sown crops, which are now well established with fairly large plants (5-10 leaves), are at risk from light leaf spot but should escape phoma.

Late-sown crops that are struggling to emerge, or with very small plants, will have missed the onset of light leaf spot but will be at risk from phoma infection.

Get the full forecasts:

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Fungicides for phoma and light leaf spot

Updated fungicide performance data for phoma and light leaf spot is now available.

For phoma leaf spot, in line with previous years, the research shows that a number of active ingredients give good control at full and half dose.

For light leaf spot, the results show that fungicide treatments can prevent significant losses from the disease. In the trials, there have been some differences between products and prothioconazole is the leading active ingredient. Control is likely to be improved by increasing the number of applications rather than by increasing dose.

For the full reports for phoma and light leaf spot, click here.

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Wheat bulb fly risk

Results from the annual HGCA autumn wheat bulb fly survey suggest that overall risk in England remains relatively low but the risk in northern England is higher compared to last year.

Soil samples were taken from 30 fields split across eastern and northern England. Samples were taken from land that provided a good opportunity for adult wheat bulb flies to lay eggs – such as land previously used for root crops, early harvested crops or fallow.

Of these 30 fields, 7% were classified as ‘high risk’ as they contained egg numbers greater than the suggested autumn-drilling seed treatment threshold of 250 eggs/m2.

Although the risk remains relatively low and below the long-term average, all the high-risk fields were in the northern region.

It is important to remember that a lower threshold of 100 eggs/m2 applies when crops are drilled after November. In both regions, 40% of monitored sites were above this lower threshold and these sites are likely to benefit from an insecticide seed treatment.

To better understand the various risk factors, look at our publication on wheat bulb fly and the information in the full survey report.

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Resistance status in grain aphid

The Insecticide Resistance Action Group publication, which provides guidance on the control of grain aphid populations that may contain individuals with resistance to pyrethroid sprays, has been updated.

HGCA-supported testing, carried out by Rothamsted Research, has shown that aphids carrying the kdr mutation – associated with resistance to pyrethroids – is similar to 2012.

The kdr mutation was first identified in the UK in 2011(mostly in East Anglia) and increased in frequency in 2012.

To view the publication, visit

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Bean seed fly larvae in wheat

There have been reports of ‘deadheart’ symptoms in wheat caused by bean seed fly larvae.

Once damage is seen, it is too late to spray the crop as it is very difficult to get insecticide in contact with the larvae. However, rolling, where practical, may help attacked crops to grow away from damage.

Frit fly also cause ‘deadhearts’ at this time of year. Both frit fly and bean seed fly maggots are white with pointed heads. However, frit fly maggots have a rounded rear and bean seed fly maggots have a truncated rear.

For more information on bean seed fly, see HDC Factsheet 03/13.

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Diagnosing the need for micronutrients

Growers are now in a better position to assess the need for micronutrient applications in cereals and oilseed rape, thanks to a new publication based on HGCA trials work and a literature review.

The work showed that diagnosing micronutrient deficiencies can help with nutrient management planning but isn’t easy to do.

“Visual symptoms can be unreliable, so soil and tissue analysis should be used to diagnose deficiencies”

James Holmes, Research and Knowledge Transfer Manager at HGCA

Where a deficiency is diagnosed, a fertiliser application may not be the best long-term answer. It may be preferable to look at soil structure and pH and treat the underlying cause.

Information Sheet 25 provides a concise overview of the use of micronutrients in cereals and oilseed rape crops, with sections on availability in UK soils, visual symptoms, factors affecting deficiencies and analysis and treatment methods.

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On-farm management of sludge and phosphorus

Those interested in sludge and biosolids management are being asked to attend the END-O-SLUDG conference this winter to discuss the latest advances.

The events in London (3 December) and Brussels (11 December) will feature leading experts in the fields of nutrient and wastewater management discussing the unprecedented opportunity to increase phosphorus recycling.

The HGCA-supported European-wide END-O-SLUDG project has been looking to develop high-quality sludge products as an alternative to conventional sources of fertiliser.

The project is near completion and the main findings will be presented at the event.

For further information, visit the dedicated website

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Helping hand for would-be precision farmers

HGCA and Catchment Sensitive Farming have teamed up to provide Be PRECISE courses for growers wanting to learn more about the fundamentals of precision farming.

The half-day workshops, which cover tractor and machine optimisation, targeted agronomy and data management, will explore the technical and financial aspects of making the move to precision farming.

Workshops will take place in the following locations: Cumbria (5 Nov), Lancashire (6 Nov), Hertfordshire (13 Nov), Essex (14 Nov), Suffolk (18 Nov), Norfolk (19 Nov), Kent (13 Dec), Yorkshire (14 Jan), Shropshire (10 Feb), Derbyshire (11 Feb).

Bookings can be made via the dedicated webpage or by contacting the course leader, Ian Beecher-Jones, on 07967 637 985.

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Latest arable information for farmers in Wales

12 November 2013, Vale of Glamorgan

HGCA and NFU Cymru have joined forces once again to bring the latest arable information to cereal and oilseed farmers in Wales.

The event will cover:

  • Grain Market Prospects for 2014 and beyond
  • Neonicotinoid restrictions
  • Ploughing versus reduced tillage

For further information on this free-to-attend event, click here

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New reports

Wheat bulb fly survey (2013)

Improving water use efficiency and drought tolerance in UK winter wheats

Sustainability of UK-grown wheat for breadmaking

New publications

Micronutrients for cereals and oilseed rape

Wheat bulb fly: risk assessment and control

Grain Sampling Guide 2013

Inspecting grain for defects and impurities (posters)

Water Roadmap

Grain sampling guide

The updated HGCA Grain sampling guide is now available.

Come and see HGCA’s grain sampling demonstration at UK Grain

Water roadmap

HGCA has published a Water Roadmap to guide water management activity in the arable sector.

The Roadmap outlines the water availability and quality challenges that the cereals and oilseeds industry faces and progress made by the industry.

'Growing for the future: An environmental roadmap for the UK cereals and oilseeds industry (Water)' can be downloaded from

Crop management

Fungicide performance (OSR)

Nutrient management

Weed control

AHDB Crop Research Conference video

UK agriculture was the subject of a scientific conference held on Wednesday 25 September in London, which was attended by around 170 delegates.

Check out the post conference video.

Agronomist Intake Day

HGCA has announced plans for an Agronomist Intake Day in 2014.

The event will showcase the breadth of HGCA research and services to new agronomists.

The idea for the event, which will also feature AHDB market information, arose from HGCA work last year into the changing role of agronomists on farm and their use of the HGCA website and publications when advising growers.

Further details will be announced in 2014.

Introducing your HGCA regional team

HGCA has responded to feedback from levy payers saying they
wished to see more targeted delivery of activity and communications by introducing a new team of Regional Managers.

For more details, read the press release or visit the regional team webpage.

Growing influence of China

The growing influence of the Chinese market on international wheat markets was highlighted at the 2013 HGCA Grain Market Outlook Conference held in London (Tuesday 15 October).

Speaker presentations are now online

Cereal Quality Survey (update)

Released in early October, the second provisional estimates of AHDB/HGCA’s Cereal Quality Survey (CQS) 2013 show a year-on-year improvement in GB wheat and barley quality, and support the results released in September.

Generally, grain quality is shown as similar to, if not better than, values obtained prior to 2012, which was a particularly poor year for quality.

The survey shows quality is consistent across the regions, which can be mainly attributed to the warm and dry weather received across GB during harvest.

Further details on the AHDB/HGCA Cereal Quality Survey can be found here.

Agronomy and climatic uncertainty

HGCA is sponsoring a conference looking at new approaches to agronomy in response to climatic disruption.

Taking place at the University of Leeds on 18-20 June 2014, the 'Climatic Uncertainty - Its Impact on Agronomic Decision Making' conference will look at the agronomic management of major temperate crops, including cereals and oilseeds, in the face of climate uncertainty.

The event will be of interest to agronomists, researchers, policy makers, agricultural land managers, beekeepers, advisers and students of agriculture and environmental land management.

The conference organiser, The Association of Applied Biologists, has announced a call for papers with a deadline of 15 November 2013.

For further details, visit the conference webpage.

See HGCA at

CropTec (30-31 Oct)

Campden Oats Conference (31 Oct-1 Nov)

UK Grain (6 Nov)

Agribusiness 2013 (13 Nov)

AgriScot (20 Nov)

Hutchinsons Winter Farming Conferences (19 Nov and 3 Dec)


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