Maize trials’ positive results
ESTABLISHING maize under biodegradable film has the potential to deliver an earlier harvest along with significantly higher yields and, in the case of most marginal maize growing areas, make the crop more consistently economically viable, according to ProCam Seeds and Traits Manager Will Miller.
Speaking at an open day at one of the company’s trials sites in Pembrokeshire, he said the opportunity to consistently deliver significantly higher yields within a safe harvest window justified the extra investment of the SAMCO system, but attention to detail was paramount.
“The SAMCO system of drilling maize under biodegradable film offers better and more consistent results for all maize growers, and can make the crop an option for those who struggle to grow a viable crop of maize in the open,” he said, “but this is only possible by growing the right varieties, applying the right agronomy and adhering to the overall system.
“It’s a mistake to assume that any maize variety will work when grown under film. For the system to deliver best returns, it is vital to select a variety that can cope with the increased temperature under the film, as well as one with high enough yield potential to benefit from the extra heat units provided.”
ProCam has been advising on the use of the SAMCO system for over 15 years. During that time, the company has tested many varieties to conclude on their current recommendations which are delivering good results for many growers across the UK. This research has been stepped up in 2017, with ten trials around the country comparing 20 different varieties grown under film with 15 key market varieties grown in the open. This equates to a total of 825 plots, individually harvested and analysed, with the primary aim of investigating which method of production gives the best financial return.
“Advances in technology have, in recent years, resulted in a better balance between the degradability and strength of film, as well as improvements of the engineering in the drill,” added Will Miller. “This has led to more consistent results, and the SAMCO system is now used successfully in over 20 countries around the world. Independent research from establishments like UCD in Ireland and AFBI in Northern Ireland is impressive, backing up results seen in the field. Our aim at ProCam is to fine-tune the system for UK growers, in both favourable and less favourable areas, so that we can help them achieve the best possible outcomes.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that maize under film has the potential to deliver excellent returns on investment for all maize growers. For some, that will be to achieve significantly higher yields of dry matter and energy with the same harvest timing as standard varieties grown in the open. For others, it will mean achieving two to three weeks earlier harvest without sacrificing yield, which can allow for a more timely entry into a following crop and reduce risk of soil damage and erosion.”
ProCam has run a series of field-scale trials across Wales and England in recent years, including the site in Pembrokeshire in 2017. The aim is to consolidate knowledge around the economic benefits of growing maize under biodegradable film, in favourable and less favourable areas of the UK. Specific trials results will be available through ProCam in the coming weeks
Last Golden Eagle of Wales found dead
WALES will no longer see the golden eagle fly through the skies after the last of its kind was found dead by a walker in Abergwesyn Valley, near Llanwrtyd Wells.
The Golden Eagle was native to Wales, Europe and North America and due to human persecution had begun to die out, the last breeding pair being found in Snowdonia in 1850. It is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere, but unfortunately Wales will not see the bird in action for a very long time.
The female bird of prey was being watched and followed by the presenter of Spring Watch, Iolo Williams, and will appear in the last episode of the latest show ‘Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales.’
The company behind the television show which captures the highlights of Welsh wildlife, Aden Productions, commented on the extinction of the Golden Eagle. Taking to twitter, a statement read:
“Our whole crew was shocked and saddened to hear about the demise of our beloved Cambrians golden eagle, the last golden eagle to fly wild in Wales. We hope our final episode of Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales is a fitting tribute to her.”
It is still not known how the female bird died, leaving questions for bird lovers, but plans are being made by the Eagle Reintroduction Wales project to reintroduce the bird of prey back into Welsh wildlife is under way. However, it is explained that this is not a simple process. They will firstly need Natural Resource Wales to issue a license which does take time.
The Golden Eagle has not left the UK completely and can still be found in the far North of Scotland.
Big Farmland Bird Count returns
JIM EGAN has sent out a rallying cry for people to pick up their binoculars and go bird-spotting for the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) which returns on Friday, February 8.
The passionate organiser of the count, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is urging farmers, land managers, gamekeepers and all wildlife enthusiasts to spend 30 minutes recording what species they see on their patch of land from February 8th to the 17th.
Your support will help identify the farmland birds that are flourishing due to good conservation methods and ones in need of most support.
“It would be fantastic to see even more farmers to take part in the count this year,” said Jim.
“Counting birds on farms is a great way to recognise what species are there as well as being an opportunity to take time out and see the benefits of work such as wild seed mix and supplementary feeding.
“Taking part and submitting results enables us at GWCT to shout about the important conservation work many farmers are doing.
“We want landowners to be proud of their efforts. We will make sure that the public and policymakers hear about what can be achieved on Britain’s farms. The BFBC is a very positive way to showcase what can be achieved.”
Backing this vital citizen-science project, running for the sixth successive year, is the NFU, which is this year’s sponsor.
President Minette Batters is vowing her support to the count by going bird-watching on her farm in Downton, Wiltshire.
She will be joined on day one with GWCT biodiversity advisor Pete Thompson, an advocate of the count, both of whom will be ready with their binoculars, notepads and sharpened pencils, recording what they see.
“I am delighted to be taking part in this year’s GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count which the NFU is pleased to be sponsoring for the very first time,” she said.
“It’s becoming an important national event where thousands of farmers and growers around the country are able to take stock of and importantly, take pride in what they find on their land.
“The NFU supports initiatives like the Big Farmland Bird Count as without sound management of the environment, enhancement of habitats, protection of wildlife and support for pollinators and soils, we do not have farming businesses.
“So, I would encourage all farmers to take part, and also remember to submit your records to the GWCT, so we can pull together a vital national snapshot of the state of the nation when it comes to farmland birds.”
A record-breaking 1,000 people took part in last year’s count, recording 121 species across 950,000 acres.
A total of 25 red-listed species were recorded, with five appearing in the 25 most commonly seen species list. These include fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, song thrushes and yellowhammers. The most plentiful of these were fieldfares and starlings, which were seen on nearly 40% of the farms taking part.
At the end of the count, the results will be analysed by the Trust. All participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated.
New Flock and Herd Health Officers
HYBU Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has appointed two new Flock and Herd Health Officers to its ambitious five-year Red Meat Development Programme, designed to equip Wales’s lamb and beef industry for a changing future.
The posts are key to delivering the programme’s commitment to helping farmers achieve on-farm efficiency and drive best practice in proactive animal health planning.
The programme is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Lowri Reed hails from a farming background near Llanon in central Ceredigion, whereas Lowri Williams is from Llanfihangel y Creuddyn near Aberystwyth, and is a graduate in Animal Management and Welfare from Harper Adams University.
Dr Rebekah Stuart, the coordinator of the Flock and Herd Health Project at HCC, said: “We’re delighted to have recruited two officers with experience and knowledge of agriculture and flock management to this important strand of work.
“There are few things that can have as great an impact on the efficiency and bottom line of a livestock enterprise as a proactive and coordinated approach to animal health and eradicating disease.
“The project will help farmers to work with vets to put health plans in place and monitor their effectiveness. Since opening an initial expression of interest window late last year at the Winter Fair, we’re encouraged by how many farmers are keen to be involved. We look forward to working with them to put this exciting project into action.”
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