Low disease levels at the start of the 2021 season converted to much higher levels by the end of the season, although there were still plenty of situations where lower input approaches to crops could be justified.

Learning the lessons from the 2021 trial season and picking out the lessons for 2022 will be core to the information presented at the forthcoming FAS/AHDB/SRUC January agronomy workshops.

This season, winter crops were drilled in good conditions and are generally looking well – and often looking pretty forward. Oilseed rape is already at welly-boot height at the SRUC’s Boghall site, with traces of light leaf spot present after incubation.

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Winter wheats and barley are similarly well established and, fairly predictably, in early drilled wheats there is yellow rust in some fields already.

Already thoughts turn to how we will manage this in spring fungicide programmes in 2022 and to analysing the messages from the trials programme last year. It was the second very dry spring in succession, so disease development was obviously affected.

Our trial results show there was certainly scope to reduce inputs at the early T0 and T1 timings, particularly where yellow rust was not an issue.

Fungicide trial results proved that the erosion of SDHI efficacy against septoria has continued, but it is important to say that this isn’t dramatic and that good efficacy was seen where the SDHIs were used in mixture products – which is always the case in practice.

The newer azole – mefentrifluconazole (as in Revystar XE) – continued to do well in wheat trials, as did the prothioconazole + SDHI loaded product like Ascra Xpro. Univoq (prothioconazole mixed with the new active class of fungicide fenpicoxamid) had its first season in commercial use and its performance in trials was good, particularly where intervals were stretched.

The knowledge base around folpet continues to grow in both wheat and barley, but there were some cost-effective benefits to including it in some programmes.

In barley, we have the launch of Ascra Xpro (already approved in wheat) so that adds a more SDHI loaded product to the comparator Siltra Xpro.

Revystar XE also did well and we have a few experimental products coming through that may help us out with ramularia, although they are still likely to be a few seasons away as barley always seems to be regarded as secondary to the wheat market when it comes to getting new actives launched.

Ramularia remains challenging to manage in the meantime. In 2021, it came in late in trials and commercial fields but reassuringly prothioconazole has maintained the same degree of efficacy as the year before so, although poorer than it was, it hasn’t declined further and remains a useful support in at risk ramularia fields.

Revystar XE brings some improvement, but we desperately need new actives in this sphere going forward.

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The link between plant nutritional status and plant health remains a very key area, particularly for a disease like ramularia strongly linked to crop stress. All aspects of soil health remain very integral but with fertiliser prices as high as they now are, new ways of optimising fertiliser products and rates are front and central in mind.

The winter Agronomy Roadshows mentioned will cover the latest in technical content for arable crops including updates on varieties, markets, IPM, soil health and fungicides, with an afternoon of case studies from growers who are exploring more regenerative and integrated ways of managing their crops.

Agronomy Roadshows for 2022

AHDB, FAS and SRUC will be coming together and running two of their traditional roadshows, with a third workshop running as a virtual on-line event in early 2022.

The events will cover market, variety and fungicides updates, and cover the latest on soil health and nutrient use efficiency. There will be the chance to hear from farmers involved in soil health and net-zero case studies and a chance to question panellists and presenters.

Dates are:

Tuesday, January 18


Thainstone House Hotel and Spa, Thainstone, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

Thursday, January 20


The Lodge at Carfraemill, Carfraemill, Lauder

The digital on-line event will be held on January 26.