FOUR Scottish farmers are to be part of a 50-strong national farm trial network.
They will all be taking part in BASF’s ‘real results’ programme, which will be partnered by ADAS and precision farming experts, AgSpace.
The Scottish ‘team’ was selected from more than 300 applicants to join what will be the biggest farmer trial ever conducted by the crop protection manufacturer.
The farmers, all based in East Lothian and Berwickshire, will join 46 others from England and Wales to undertake wheat agronomy trials, which will culminate with the gathering of wheat yield data at harvest time.
The draw of the initiative has been that the trials will be conducted on growers’ own farms, under local conditions using their own machinery with assessments being carried out by the independent partners. 
The progressive Scots are:
Chris Leslie, farm manager at Cockielaw, Whittinghame, East Lothian. He previously worked for Scottish Agronomy and is a director of Scottish Borders Produce and of his local vining pea group. 
David Fuller-Shapcott, Sweethope, near Kelso. He has a self-confessed competitive streak, an ethos to grow for a known market and to drive his impeccably well-managed crops for yield. 
Jorin Grimsdale, Mountfair, near Duns. He farms 2100ha in partnership with his brother, Aidan. Min-till was introduced to the farm in 1999 and they were early adopters of precision technology in the early 2000s. 
Richard Cockcroft, Bowsden Hall, near Berwick.
Scott Milne, BASF’s agronomy manager for Scotland said: “The BASF Real Results Circle will allow growers to learn about their own farm’s capabilities and to be part of a multi-location, national trial.
“Along with ADAS and AgSpace, we will assess each farm, monitor crops, determine disease pressure and assess fungicide performance throughout the season. ADAS will then produce an end-of-season report on the crop, outlining the results and lessons learnt.”
Susie Roques, an ADAS crop physiologist, said the assessments will be made using the Agronōmics system – a new digital technique for farm-based research developed by ADAS and AgSpace with the support of the British Geological Survey. 
“On-farm tramline trials and split field trials, like those in the BASF Real Results Circle, are being increasingly used by individuals and companies. 
“The Agronōmics approach brings a new and unique scientific credibility to the design, management and statistical analysis of tramline trials which will ensure that the 50 participating growers can have more confidence in the results than they would ever have had before.”
David Fuller-Shapcott told The SF: “Real Results is all about testing whether products are as good as manufacturers claim and proving if the investment is worthwhile.
“Trial results from the south of England are meaningless in the conditions found in the Scottish Borders, so there is no more realistic trial than to test products on the home farm.”
Ultimately, he is keen to take what he learns from the initiative to drive changes across the whole farm, but will only do so if it is right and economical for the business. 
He is also keen to test whether Xemium fungicides reduce brackling in barley, as claimed by BASF.
Chris Leslie added: “Quite simply, I want to identify what is actually required to boost yields in using real-time data and live results and to cut through the smokescreen of marketing!”
Jorin Grimsdale added that he is looking forward to seeing feedback from others around the country: “We have always used independent trials to assess crop inputs, thus being a member of NIAB/TAG through the years has given us this valuable data.
“However, we often compare half-field or full tramlines widths with standard farm practice to see if larger farm trials mirror the smaller trial plot results. We prefer to see for ourselves, rather than take the manufacturer’s word about any new product.” 
Participants will also be running trials that compare BASF’s SDHI fungicides – Adexar at T1 and Librax at T2 against the farmer’s own choice of fungicides. 
All 50 will also be invited to an end-of-year conference to share their trials results. 
Progress and details of all 50 farmers can be followed at and open days will be held at a number of farms over the summer.