TWO OF Scotland’s Monitor Farms are to take part in a UK-wide trial testing the potential of biostimulant products.

Spanning from Truro to Morayshire, the 16 UK Monitor Farms selected to take part in the try-outs represent a wide range of environmental conditions for the three year trial, which will test biostimulants on several combinable crops, including wheat, barley and oilseed rape.

One of the Scottish farms confirmed for the trial is Corskie Farm in Morayshire, where farmer Iain Green has no previous experience with biostimulants, but is keen to trial products which could improve crop yield: “We are going to be trialling the biostimulant on two fields of spring barley and are really interested to measure its effect on yield. Up in Morayshire it can be very dry so anything that could improve rooting and cause less crop stress could be very beneficial.”

An AHDB review, completed in 2016, found evidence of a significant increase in yield in at least one experiment for nine of the 11 biostimulant product categories assessed. Due to the biological nature of these products, however, consistent benefits were not observed in trials conducted on cereals and data for oilseed rape was lacking.

AHDB knowledge exchange manager for Scotland, Gavin Dick, said: “The continuing development of targeted biostimulant products by major agrochemical companies means growers need to better understand the management requirements of these products under local field conditions to assess consistency of performance at a regional level.

“The MF programme in Scotland is committed to improving the integration of productive farming and enhancing the environment, so there is a clear synergy in using monitor farms to try-out these products.”

The biostimulant market has expanded rapidly in recent years with numerous companies selling a wide range of products. The four products used in the try-outs all include microbial and non-microbial components. Donated by Alltech Crop Science, they include a liquid product applied to the soil at planting and a foliar-applied liquid product.

Treatments will be applied to 2.5 ha of crop and compared to untreated crop in the same field. Various growth, yield and quality parameters will be measured, with the results analysed independently and presented at Monitor Farm meetings, where the impact on crop yield, quality and margin will be discussed.

Alltech regional sales manager Andrew Linscott added: “This is a great platform to help farmers see and understand the potential benefits of using such technology, including how biostimulants should be used and what they can do.”