ONE OF Scotland's Monitor Farms has done well in the progressive Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) awards.

The Black Isle's Brian and Caroline Matheson have claimed a third prize in the percentage of potential yield gained at the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) awards this past week.

On their Ballicherry Farm, just north of Inverness, they achieved 62.5% of yield potential with a Zulu first winter wheat. The final yield was 10.9t/ha.

And, according to Brian, the Monitor Farm's community group proved their worth when it came to helping produce a good crop.

“I had two fields of Zulu and was originally going to enter another one but when the Monitor Farm group looked at the fields they recommended this one," he admitted. "They were right, as the other one only yielded 10.4t/ha.”

The key, he added, was attention to detail. “This is something we’ve been focussing on with the Monitor Farm programme, especially with the price of wheat where it is. We’ve had to sharpen up our act, and spend more time on the details, such as headland management.”

The quality of the field and having a good rotation, were also key factors in their success, they said.

The crop was sown at 425 seeds/m2 on October 15, 2015 and hit GS31 on April 31and GS61 by July 14. Harvest

growth stage was hit on October 10.

In recent history, it was in grass for seven years and was ploughed four years ago. After that it was in spring barley for two years. The crop immediately before this one was potatoes.

“The things we did differently this year from before, were using more sulphur than usual and applying fertiliser late. Perhaps these helped us to reach more of our potential yield. We also ended up drilling later than usual,” Brian pointed out.

AHDB's Gavin Dick added: “The YEN programme helps growers to understand the components which go into creating yield and therefore helps them target their spend to maximise yield.”

The Monitor Farm network was well represented, with second place in the same category going to Kelso farmer David Fuller-Shapcott, a member of the former AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Monitor Farm in the Borders. Also growing Zulu winter wheat, he achieved 63.5% of his potential yield, harvesting 11.8t/ha at 15% moisture.

He said: “We are limited by light but not moisture and this year if our wheat hadn’t gone flat before we could get the combine on, our yield would’ve been a lot higher.

"This affected our cost of production per tonne, too. Other fields using the same programme but harvested at the right time achieved around 13t/ha.”