Three farmers from the Lothians and Borders taking part in field-scale winter wheat fungicide trials, aim to prove conclusively which is the best winter wheat fungicide at T1 and T2.

Chris Leslie, Jorin Grimsdale and David Fuller-Shapcott, are part of BASF’s Real Results Circle – 50 farmers from across the UK who are pitting BASF’s Xemium fungicides Adexar and Librax against SDHIs of their choice, in independently backed scientific trials on their farms to see for themselves which is the best product.

Tim Short, BASF’s marketing campaign manager, crop protection, said, “We’re strong believers in our Xemium fungicides and that’s why we’ve put our money where our mouth is – covering the costs of our products and the independent trials management for these 50 growers to prove that in the real world Adexar/Librax delivers the highest yields and margins.”

One of the farmers taking part, Chris Leslie, of Agricultural Management Haddington (AMH), is based at Cockielaw, Whittingehame.

The Real Results Circle trial fits well with Mr Leslie’s business ethos, he said, “I believe that by developing an independent strategy and solution for our own farm, we are better able to operate profitably within a close-knit industry.

“I only want to apply what is absolutely necessary in terms of inputs to achieve production targets and this trial will enable me to identify what is actually required to boost yield, cutting through the smokescreen of marketing and PR.”

Mr Grimsdale is also keen to see if the claims from BASF of higher yields from their products are valid.

Mr Grimsdale and his brother run the family business, Mountfair Farming, an agri-business specialising in contract farming and farm management services in the Scottish Borders and North Northumberland, based near Duns.

He said: “We prefer to see for ourselves rather than take the manufacturer’s word about any new product. We have always used independent trials to assess crop inputs and 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.

“The Real Results Circle trial will allow a further check that the correct products at the optimum rates are being used and it will be really interesting to get feedback from the other 49 farmers involved across the UK.”

For Mr Fuller-Shapcott, of Sweethope Farm, a mixed family farm near Kelso, being involved in the Real Results is Circle is also about testing whether products are as good as manufacturers claim.

He pointed out: “Trial results from the south of England are meaningless in our Scottish conditions so there is no more realistic trial than to test products on the home farm.

“Winter wheat in this part of the country has had a fairly benign growing season, going into the ground in good conditions in autumn 2016 and experiencing relatively good growing conditions so we should be able to tease out the differences between the chemistry.

“As well as yield response I am also very interested in the impact of fungicide performance on crop quality aspects such as fusarium incidence and grain protein.

“The Real Results trial is deliberately in a crop of biscuit wheat so these aspects can be examined. With the recent rain, ear diseases are beginning to creep into the crop, even though they have had an ear spray so it will be interesting to see what effect the chemistry has on these.

“Ultimately, I am keen to take what I learn from the initiative to drive changes across the whole farm, if it is right and economical for the business.”

Mr Short added: “Whilst the BASF Real Results Circle allows growers to learn about their farm, it also gives them the opportunity to be part of something bigger, and this coupled with independent scientific backing will give the results we find more validity.”

With a slow start to harvest in this area due to showery weather, winter wheat harvest and the moment of truth for these three farmers and BASF is still about a month away.