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Farmers are key to their own success at this year's YEN Awards

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The annual awards meeting of the Yield Enhancement Network – or ‘YEN’ – held at Eastwood Hall near Nottingham on Tuesday 19th November was fuller than ever and debated more competition entries and crop comparisons than ever – over 350 crop yields were considered.

Top oilseed yields in 2019 were record-breakers and cereal yields were only just short of the records achieved in 2015.

Entrants established excellent crops with better shoot numbers than ever in spring. Despite dull summer weather in 2019 hampering full realisation of this potential, entrants achieved high proportions of their crops’ potentials. Winning yields exceeded 16 t/ha with cereals and 7 t/ha with oilseeds, double the UK average farm yields achieved with these crops.

 
Farmers are key to their own success at this year's YEN Awards

Prof Roger Sylvester-Bradley, ADAS’s Head of Crop Performance, who leads the YEN, said “the UK is not only blessed with a productive climate, but with some smart farmers and an excellent support industry. YEN farms regularly produce yields that – in terms of energy conversion – far exceed those in other climates with more solar energy to exploit. The best YEN yields have been almost double the national average. The challenge now is to pin-point how such farms sustain these high yields. YEN data show that this has little to do with high use of fertilisers and chemicals and much more to do with inspired soil and crop husbandry, plus attention to detail.”

When presenting the YEN awards, Nick Poole from the Foundation for Arable Research in Australia, congratulated the YEN and all its participants in both achieving such yields and, more importantly, in making sense of them, so that they can see how to make further progress.

Cereal Winners

Winners awards were as follows:

Best Field Yield                                                                                                   t/ha

  • GOLD: Mark Stubbs of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons                16.3
  • SILVER: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, Independent entry         15.2
  • BRONZE: David Passmore of Oxfordshire, Independent entry                    14.8

Best % of Potential Yield – fields                                                                     % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Donald Ross of Ross-shire, Independent entry                                  93% of 13.8
  • SILVER: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, Independent entry         88% of 17.4
  • BRONZE: Kaido Kirst of Saaremas, Estonia, Independent entry                  86% of 11.3

Best Plot Yield                                                                                                     t/ha

  • GOLD:  Mark Doble in Somerset, sponsored by BASF                                  15.9
  • SILVER: Gareth Bubb in Herefordshire, sponsored by Bayer                       13.3
  • BRONZE: Ben Giles in Oxfordshire, sponsored by Bayer                              12.4

Best % of Potential Yield – plots                                                                      % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Mark Doble in Somerset, sponsored by BASF                                 82% of 19.4
  • SILVER:  Gareth Bubb in Herefordshire, sponsored by Bayer                      75% of 17.8
  • BRONZE: Ben Giles in Oxfordshire, sponsored by Bayer                             68% of 18.4

Cereal YEN – Regional Awards for field entries

  • For the Highest Yield in                                                                                              t/ha
    • Scotland: David Bell of Fife, Independent entry                                              14.3
    • Northern: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, Independent entry      15.2
    • East Midlands: Mark Stubbs of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons   16.3
    • East Anglia: John Benton of Norfolk, sponsored by Bayer                             12.8
    • The West: Andrew Williamson of Shropshire, sponsored by Bayer             11.8
    • South East: David Passmore of Oxfordshire, Independent entry                  14.8
    • South West: Mark Doble of Somerset, sponsored by BASF                           14.3
    • Outside the UK: Hubert Rijk of The Netherlands, Independent entry          13.2
  • For the best % of Potential Yield in                                                                              %  of  t/ha
    • Scotland: Donald Ross of Ross-shire, Independent entry                                  93% of 13.7
    • Northern: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, Independent entry          88% of 17.4
    • East Midlands: Mark Stubbs of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons        85% of 19.2
    • East Anglia: Ed King of Cambridgeshire, sponsored by Bayer                            66% of 13.4
    • The West: Andrew Williamson of Shropshire, sponsored by Bayer                  68% of 17.3
    • South East: David Passmore of Oxfordshire, Independent entry                      80% of 18.7
    • South West: Howard Emmett of Cornwall, sponsored by AHDB                       74% of 14.1
    • Outside the UK: Craig Hill of Cork, Ireland, Independent entry                         69% of 16.0

 

Spring Barley Winner

Dr Sarah Kendall explained how YEN is now addressing spring barley yields; having developed specific estimates of its potential, spring barley awards were made for the first time this year. Sarah highlighted that “YEN’s new winning spring barley was a crop of Laureate achieving an excellent 10.7 t/ha with a grain N of 1.8%. On average, YEN entrants achieved 8.1 t/ha, more than 2 t/ha above the UK farm average.” She also pointed out that “Potential yields of spring barley in 2019 averaged around 14 t/ha, so there is still plenty of scope for improvement. Achieving both high yield and high quality is especially important for spring barley so this new YEN will focus on achieving both in the future.”

Best field yield                                                                                                                 t/ha

  • Gold: Alex Wilcox at Hill Farm, Norfolk sponsored by Hutchinsons                 10.7

Best % of Potential Yield – field                                                                                    % of t/ha

  • Gold: Alex Wilcox at Hill Farm, Norfolk sponsored by Hutchinsons                 72% of 14.9

Oilseeds Winners

Dr Pete Berry, Head of Crop Physiology at ADAS, commented specifically on oilseed rape (OSR) yields adding, “The top three oilseed rape yields all exceeded 6.5 t/ha and the winner unofficially exceeded the current world record. This is a tremendous achievement by these entrants, given that the seed filling conditions this year were restricted by dull and rainy weather in June. The average gross output yield across all the entrants in 2019 was over 5 t/ha, compared with the national average seed yield this year of about 3.4 t/ha. The Oilseed YEN has now been running for three years and has had more than 150 entrants. Their dataset will be incredibly valuable for identifying factors which are associated with high oilseed yields.”

Best Field Yield (gross output - seed yield adjusted for oil content)                                                          t/ha

  • GOLD: Richard Budd of Kent, Independent entry                                                                                    7.19
  • SILVER: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, sponsored by Dekalb                                                6.82
  • BRONZE: Mark Stubbs of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons                                                      6.77

Best % of Potential Yield – fields                                                                                                                       % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Richard Budd of Kent, Independent entry                                                                                    85% of 8.4
  • SILVER: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, sponsored by Dekalb                                                72% of 9.4
  • BRONZE: David Fuller-Shapcott of Roxburghshire sponsored by BASF                                                 63% of 10.1

Best Plot Yield (gross output - seed yield adjusted for oil content)                                                            t/ha

  • GOLD: Lauren Hall at Herefordshire, sponsored by BASF                                                                       5.3
  • SILVER:  Ryan Hickinbotham at Nottinghamshire, sponsored by BASF                                                 5.2
  • BRONZE: Michael Farr at Wiltshire, sponsored by DSV                                                                           4.9

Best % of Potential Yield – plots                                                                                                                       % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Lauren Hall at Herefordshire, sponsored by BASF                                                                       48% of 11.1
  • SILVER: Ryan Hickinbotham at Nottinghamshire, sponsored by BASF                                                  47% of 11.1
  • BRONZE: Steve Malkin at Lincolnshire, sponsored by BASF                                                                   46% of 10.3

The YEN particularly seeks to foster innovators; special contribution in 2019 were recognised as follows:

 

Innovator of the year award:

  • Peter Chapman of Aberdeenshire

For initiating the Scottish YEN growers group, driving Spring Barley YEN and developing ideas to achieve 'Crop Momentum'

Commendations for Innovation

  • David Fuller-Shapcott of Roxburghshire

For advocating YEN and its ethos, and undertaking trials on multiple innovations

  • Chris Eglington of Thetford, Norfolk

For developing a precision system for OSR establishment and undertaking multiple trials

  • Ed Horton of Gloucestershire

   For testing the effect of mob grazing on winter wheat in a drought prone situation

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