There’s integrity in independence. That’s the view of independent agronomist and TMAF Trustee and Deputy Chair Sue Lord. That’s why, she explains, she was happy to write an article for the recent edition of Beet Review magazine.
“Most farming magazines have articles or quotes from agronomists. A farmer client of mine loves to ask me for my opinion on them. He knows my response will be to ask him if he has checked who has written it. So why is this?
Arable advice in the UK is split between independent crop consultants such as myself (most of whom belong to the Association of Independent Crop Consultants (AICC), as I do) and service-based agronomists.
Check the source of your arable advice
Independent crop consultants are employed by their farmer clients to give all round advice and are paid a consultancy fee. Service-based agronomists are employed by crop input distribution companies. They recommend products their companies sell and take a salary from these sales.
Hence my question to my client Mr B, “Have you looked who has written the article?”. An independent crop consultant is likely to have a different view to a company agronomist on a variety of topics. Both types of professional give good advice but you should always check where it is coming from, especially if it is part of your decision making.
Achieving crop performance and milestones
British Sugar ask AICC members to provide articles for the Beet Review magazine to give the independent view. For the latest edition my name came out of the hat. The subject I was given was ‘Getting the beet crop to 12 true leaves’, that covers crop establishment, including seed bed preparation and nutrition.
Twelve true leaves is considered a critical growth stage because by then the plants are mature enough for the risk of virus infection to reduce. So, the aim of every grower is to get to this stage as quickly as possible so good seedbeds and nutrition are paramount.
Looking back to see ahead
While considering nutrition and the current interest in fertiliser placement my mind retrieved memories of research already done on this. By going to the Morley archive I was able to find details of field experiments from three different decades going back to the 1960’s.
Matching knowledge to contemporary challenges
As we go into spring what challenges will 2023 bring for beet and other crops? The simple answer is probably something unexpected. As always, the weather will be key and having impacts on crop growth, disease and pest pressure.
Broader challenges are climatic factors, the carbon question, soil health, water and air quality. These are all topics for research that I am glad to say is being funded by TMAF and explored through NIABTAG, BBRO projects and PhD students all carefully picked by TMAF trustees for their relevance to future challenges.
This is how at TMAF we plan to continue to add to the independent body of knowledge and practical advice. Independent advice is as important as ever for the farmers and growers we serve.”