The Innovation Hub, hosted by Agri-TechE on behalf of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, creates an opportunity to drop in and discuss an emerging technology or a challenge directly with a technologist or researcher.
Sadly, the Royal Norfolk Show has been cancelled this year but keen that the ‘show must go on’ we are recreating this experience virtually.
We will be asking the demonstrators a number of challenging questions; for example:
Can coffee beans and waste paper help solve our global challenges? Should we be feeding the plant not the soil with phosphorous? 2019 was a year of extremes – can resilience be improved?
You will have the opportunity to ‘eavesdrop’ on the conversations and to ask your own questions.
1: Following new guidance on improving bioavailability of phosphorous, should we be feeding the plant not the soil?
The Nutrient Management Guide (RB209) helps growers make the most of organic materials and balance the benefits of fertiliser use against the costs – both economic and environmental. New recommendations on phosphorous management are the first in nearly 40 years how should the industry respond?
10 years of research on phosphorous has, for the first time, shown how deficiencies can be detected with grain analysis. ADAS will be launching ‘YEN Nutrition’ and will discuss how analysis of grain samples at harvest can be used to infer the success of nutrient management strategies, providing a comprehensive post-mortem on each crop’s nutrition (from germination to maturity).
Improved methods for precision fertiliser application can make inputs more effective. Hockley Agro UK – will be discussing how biodegradable wetting agents can be used to deliver foliar fertilisation more effectively.
The effects of phosphorus and potassium fertilisers and the regular use of farmyard manure have been compared in a 120-year-old trial on a clay loam soil in Suffolk. Historically soil phosphate (P) availability has been the main driver of yield, however this did not appear to be the case in 2019 when the yield of winter wheat was good across the site. NIAB will be discussing the New Farming System programme which is focussed on three inter-related themes: fertility building and cover crops; approaches to tillage; and use of soil amendments.
2. Learning the lessons of 2019 – can we improve resilience to extreme conditions?
As growers of potatoes and sugar beet reel from the removal of key chemicals from their armoury, a number of new tools and techniques are showing promise for increasing resilience both within the crop and post-harvest. Are these innovations available now? If not what is needed for farmers to gain the benefit?
Advanced breeding techniques that inhibit sprouting in potatoes could help overcoming withdrawal of chemicals. The Sainsbury Laboratory is working on a technology that would enable the suppression of enzymes that convert starch to sugar. This would allow storage at low temperatures while maintaining quality for processing. There are many reasons why legislators should reappraise gene editing as this technology would increase resilience to adverse conditions.
The control of tuber populations during the growing season could increase saleable yield even under extreme weather conditions. Crop4Sight will discuss its ‘toolbox’ of insights that allow in-season benchmarking of crop development to enable timely interventions.
Beneficial insects can increase pest control, and improving the resilience of soils can mitigate the impact of extreme weather. BBRO will be sharing the lessons learnt during 2019, the first year of growing sugar beet without seed treatments. Another of its projects highlights how sugar beet, when included in a rotation, can provide to break the cycle of weeds and diseases.
3. Can we address global challenges with repurposed agricultural by-products?
Single use plastics and soil degradation are two of the challenges that could be addressed by innovative use of agricultural waste products. Creating a market for these resources would also improve the sustainability of production. What are the innovations that could be introduced now and when would their benefits be realised?
Agricultural by-products can be used to create bioresins for construction materials. Cambond – will be discussing how it is possible to harness the complex chemistry of plants, together with energy from the sun, to provide a globally useful and sustainable substitute for toxic oil-based chemicals used in plastics and building materials.
Paper crumble, a co-product of paper recycling, offers the potential to enrich soil, improve retention of water and nutrients, and increase productivity. Paper crumble can also be used as a route to increase soil carbon as a long-term carbon sink. University of East Anglia – is investigating ways to build soil carbon stocks to build a healthier soil and help farmers deliver a ‘public good’.
Paper crumble also contains plant nutrients and trace elements and can offer an uplift in beneficial chemicals. Greenworld is working with UEA to investigate the benefits of PC to soil structure.