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

November 20, 2019

The annual awards meeting of the Yield Enhancement Network – or ‘YEN’ – held at Eastwood Hall near Nottingham, UK, on Tuesday 19 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.

Prof Roger Sylvester-Bradley, Head of Crop Performance at ADAS (an RSK company), 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
GOLD: Mark Stubbs of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons
SILVER: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, Independent entry
BRONZE: David Passmore of Oxfordshire, Independent entry

Best % of Potential Yield – fields
GOLD: Donald Ross of Ross-shire, Independent entry
SILVER: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, Independent entry
BRONZE: Kaido Kirst of Saaremas, Estonia, Independent entry

Best Plot Yield
GOLD: Mark Doble in Somerset, sponsored by BASF
SILVER: Gareth Bubb in Herefordshire, sponsored by Bayer
BRONZE: Ben Giles in Oxfordshire, sponsored by Bayer

Best % of Potential Yield – plots
GOLD: Mark Doble in Somerset, sponsored by BASF
SILVER: Gareth Bubb in Herefordshire, sponsored by Bayer
BRONZE: Ben Giles in Oxfordshire, sponsored by Bayer

 

Cereal YEN – Regional Awards for field entries

For the Highest Yield in:

◾Scotland: David Bell of Fife, Independent entry
◾Northern: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, Independent entry
◾East Midlands: Mark Stubbs of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons
◾East Anglia: John Benton of Norfolk, sponsored by Bayer
◾The West: Andrew Williamson of Shropshire, sponsored by Bayer
◾South East: David Passmore of Oxfordshire, Independent entry
◾South West: Mark Doble of Somerset, sponsored by BASF
◾Outside the UK: Hubert Rijk of The Netherlands, Independent entry

For the best % of Potential Yield in:

◾Scotland: Donald Ross of Ross-shire, Independent entry
◾Northern: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, Independent entry
◾East Midlands: Mark Stubbs of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons
◾East Anglia: Ed King of Cambridgeshire, sponsored by Bayer
◾The West: Andrew Williamson of Shropshire, sponsored by Bayer
◾South East: David Passmore of Oxfordshire, Independent entry
◾South West: Howard Emmett of Cornwall, sponsored by AHDB
◾Outside the UK: Craig Hill of Cork, Ireland, Independent entry

 

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

GOLD: Alex Wilcox at Hill Farm, Norfolk sponsored by Hutchinsons

Best % of Potential Yield – field
GOLD: Alex Wilcox at Hill Farm, Norfolk sponsored by Hutchinsons

 

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)

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

Best % of Potential Yield – fields

GOLD: Richard Budd of Kent, Independent entry
SILVER: Richard Wainwright of North Yorkshire, sponsored by Dekalb
BRONZE: David Fuller-Shapcott of Roxburghshire sponsored by BASF

Best Plot Yield (gross output – seed yield adjusted for oil content

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

Best % of Potential Yield – plots

GOLD: Lauren Hall at Herefordshire, sponsored by BASF
SILVER: Ryan Hickinbotham at Nottinghamshire, sponsored by BASF
BRONZE: Steve Malkin at Lincolnshire, sponsored by BASF

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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