YEN Ideas Lab 18 June, 2018


Staff Member

Farmers, agronomists, and researchers met at the Newark Showground recently as part of the EU EIP AGri funded YEN Yield Testing project to discuss new ways to boost yields.

Workshop summary

Yield testing is being taken to the next level using new ADAS ‘s Agronōmics technology where farmers are able to do on-farm testing to validate research results. The aim of this workshop was to develop a set of questions across a range of topic areas that small groups of farmers could test on their farms.

  • Farmers, agronomists and researchers discussed novel ideas for yield enhancement.
  • Groups formed to discuss plans for 2019 ideas testings.
  • Farmer Idea Groups (FIGs) were created.
  • To join an existing, or start your own FIG, register your interest here.
The day began with an explanation of the nuts and bolts of setting up tramline trials presented by ADAS researchers. This was followed by Soil Association’s Liz Bowles endorsement of the project and description of some of their work through their Innovation Farmers programme. Liz implied that there may be opportunities for supplemental funding offered through the Soil Association of up to £10k to support on-farm trials.

The introductory session was rounded off with a first-hand account from 2016 YEN competition winner and YEN Yield Testing farmer lead David Hoyles.

Before groups began discussion on novel ideas for yield enhancement the YEN ideas treasury was introduced (Fig. 1). The YEN ideas treasury has been formulated from previous ideas labs held in the last few years which will be continually updated with new ideas generated from future meetings moving forward. The ideas have been categorised into the two components of light capture and conversion and soil exploration to improve the capture of nutrients and water in which yields are formed. This treasury will act as a resource to encourage the formation of farmer idea groups who are keen to test an idea, or a combination of ideas on their fields. Having multiple farmers and fields testing the same ideas gives us greater accuracy in the outcomes and can generate better discussion around the issue of pushing yields.

Figure 1. The YEN ideas treasury: formulated ideas for yield enhancement developed from previous YEN ideas labs

Workshop participants were asked to select from a range of topics and to work in groups to come up with innovative questions to test new ways to enhance yields. Everything was ruled in with the groups deciding by consensus which ideas they would propose taking forward.

The general topic areas included resource conversion, deep rooting, canopy longevity, soil health and nutrition, and oilseeds. Nearly twenty new ideas were generated and will now be voted on by workshop participants to decide which ones to take forward for next year.

Here are some of the novel approaches:

  • Applying molasses to crops in the spring to improve sink strength and/or soil health
  • Applying magnesium to OSR at flowering to prolong canopy life
  • Using a grassland aerator or mechanical weeder in direct drilled crops to get more oxygen into the soil
  • Focussing on shallow and deep tillage to improve soil quality and promote deeper rooting
  • Applying spring phosphates using different methods (soil and foliar) to increase supplies to plant
Each trial will have its own dedicated group of farmers and partners and will be facilitated by a researcher from the ADAS YEN team. ADAS will ensure that robust trial protocols are put in place. The lessons learned through these new crop trials will be widely disseminated for the benefit of all arable producers.

How can you get involved?
You can join existing Farmer Idea Groups (FIGs), based on the best ideas raised within YEN, or suggest a new FIG based on your own ideas for enhancing yield. As part of the EIP-Agri funded YEN Yield Testing project, there is funding available for in-field testing of ideas. We have funding for up to 30 tests in 2019. For more information about the YEN Yield Testing project, visit the YEN Yield Testing webpage.

You can download a Guide to Farmer’s Crop Trials here. This details how to pose useful questions, designing trials and choosing appropriate fields, applying and recording treatments, collecting data, analysing results and drawing conclusions.

You can register your interest in joining a FIG by completing this short five questions survey.

If you are interested in testing ideas for improving yield based on changes in crop establishment (e.g. cultivations, drilling rates, autumn treatments) please get in touch as soon as possible.

Mark Ramsden,, tel: 01902 271290
Christina Clarke,, tel: 01954 268258
Sarah Kendall, , tel: 01623 848390
Roger Sylvester-Bradley,, tel: 01954 268253
Daniel Kindred, , tel: 01954 268259

Alternatively, you can email for general enquiries.

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