Amino acid YEN Yield Testing Farmer Innovation Group

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There is a lot of interest in the use of biostimulants to try and improve crop growth and yield, but relevant field scale evidence for UK cereal crops is currently limited. With support from ADAS scientists and entries into the main YEN competition, a group of 8 growers in 2018 and 6 growers in 2019 have come together to form the amino acid Farmer Innovation Group (FIG) as part of the EIP-AGRI funded YEN Yield Testing project.

Amino acid YEN Yield Testing Farmer Innovation Group

The group’s aim is to test to see if amino acid based products have a significant effect on yield.Specifically, the YEN Yield Testing trials are focusing on yield effects of amino acids applied in the autumn and spring or at two different timings in the spring. These timings are targeting the specific growth stages of tillering, stem extension, and flag leaf emergence with the aim of increasing above-ground biomass. High biomass and a greater number of grains per unit area have been associated with higher yields in YEN.

Tramline trials include amino acid treatments vs a farm standard non-amino acid treatment. Where possible, treatments are replicated and the data from yield mapping combines are analysed using the Agronomics methodology to determine whether there are statistical differences among treatments.

Dr Kate Storer, ADAS Crop Physiologist, who facilitates the group, says “There is uncertainty about effects of biostimulant products on UK crops, but this gives growers a chance to work together to independently test if the products perform and compare results across a number of sites”.

In 2018 FIG farmers applied an amino acid based product in the autumn and/or spring on winter wheat, to compare with the farm standard of no treatment. Results from 2018 are shown in Table 1. Yield effects of spring applied amino acids ranged from -0.26 - +0.5t/ha. The only statistically significant result was the 0.5t/ha yield increase. At four of the sites, amino acids were also applied in the autumn, with yield effects ranging from -0.71 – 0.27t/ha. The reduction in yield of 0.71t/ha was the only statistically significant result.

Table 1. Results from each amino acid FIG trial in 2018. Data presented is the yield response to the treatment (t/ha) and 95% confidence intervals. 



Autumn & Spring


-0.15 ± 0.42

-0.19± 0.42


0.5 ± 0.42*

-0.71 ± 0.42*


0.06 ± 0.60



0.17 ± 0.53

0.32 ± 0.56


0.12 ± 0.39



0.29 ± 0.70



-0.26 ± 1.15

0.27 ±1.04


* indicates statistically significant result at the 95% confidence interval.


In 2019, the timings will be T1 and T2 for the amino acid treatments and the results from the 2019 trials will be made public once available. David Hoyles, lead farmer in the amino acid FIG is an advocate of on farm trialling and explains “there is little point in doing the trial if it is not sensibly and fairly laid out, it also needs to be taken to harvest and recorded to see if any effects were produced”.

We have produced a farm trials guide which helps to outline how to get the most out of on farm trials, from selecting the site, setting up the trial design through to the best harvest approaches. It’s free to download from the ADAS website  

For more information about this project, please contact Kate Storer.

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