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‘Agronomist of the future’ under spotlight in Norfolk – John Purslow/Matt Ward - Anglia Farmer

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  • Integrated approach crucial for best results
  • Crop-walking still vital for good agronomy
  • Alternative solutions remain important

Tighter environmental regulations, extreme weather and changing disease threats will require a new approach to crop agronomy, growers were told.

Commercial and technical challenges facing the arable sector were discussed at a recent technical meeting hosted by Farmacy Norfolk Agronomy at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. The event highlighted cultural, non-chemical approaches alongside established agronomy  principles.

Alternative Solutions

“We are still looking at a future of new active ingredients although the pipeline will slow down due to increasing regulatory and environmental pressures” said Farmacy area business manager and meeting chairman John Purslow.

“Alternative crop production solutions” are taking an increasingly important role in meeting the technical and commercial challenges of profitable crop management, explained Mr Purslow who leads the Farmacy Norfolk team.

This covers a multitude of different areas from bio-pesticides and bio-stimulants to soil health, crop nutrition and the use of crop genetics to tackle new and existing threats.

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"Increasing resistance in pests, weeds and diseases and the need for an integrated approach to managing these for the long term is becoming crucial to the sustainability of our combinable cropping rotations."    

To illustrate what integrated solutions looked like in practice on farms, attendees heard how soil health could be improved with cover cropping from Elizabeth Stockdale, head of farming systems at NIABTAG.

Increasingly complex agronomy made it vital for agronomists to have easy access to a wide range of technical expertise, said Mr Purslow. Agronomists who worked on their own could find it increasingly time consuming and challenging to access the required level of information.

“By being part of a leading national agronomy company, Farmacy Norfolk are better placed to access this level of support, whilst still delivering the best most up-to-date independent advice to farming clients in this volatile environment.”

Managing Data

As well as remaining at the forefront of technical changes, attendees also heard how the successful agronomist of the future had to be fully capable of utilising and analysing the wealth of field and crop data being collected on farms to deliver fully integrated advice.

Knowing what to do with the sheer volume of data available across a variety of systems – from machinery telematics to soil sampling – can seem daunting, but can with the right system, it can be brought together to increase the precision and efficiency of everyday decision-making.

Farmacy services manager Matt Ward said the Omnia precision agronomy system provided the ideal platform for doing just this by analysing multiple national “layers" of data from a variety of sources to formulate bespoke agronomy at individual field or sub-field level.