variety information available to cereal and forage
growers at this stage of the season is inadequate
and inappropriate, says West Country farmer
Mr Brooks fired off a comment on the FOL Today
Arable View What
is the future of NIAB to the effect that
the figures on cereals available on the NIAB
Varplan were no use to farmers like him.
"The fungicide treatments used on the NIAB
trials plots are real belt and braces jobs. No
real cereal grower would ever consider using the
rates and mixes that are used there", he told
"As a working dairy and mixed farmer, I
need to know what will happen if Iím too busy
with another job to get on at just the right time,
or if the contractor doesnít turn up on time, or
if I simply get it wrong!"
Mr Brooks wants the untreated yields to be
published early alongside the fully treated
figures to help him make decisions for the coming
"NIAB and the HGCA must show untreated
yields - nationally and for the regions", he
claimed. "The south west needs bomb proof
disease resistant varieties that show outstanding
"What I am particularly looking for is a
feed wheat that will be good for home feeding with
a robust yield and very few inputs - ideally just
one or two sprays - that will let me get on with
the job of looking after the cows".
"Genghis, for instance, looked very good
for that job, but they left it off the final list.
I want to see all the information, so I can choose
what is best for me".
SYMPATHY, BUT NO SPACE OR MONEY
NIABís national cereals specialist, Richard
Fenwick, who looks after the Varplan data for FOL
and others, says he has a lot of sympathy for
Stephen, but is constrained by the logistics and
economics of the present system.
"There is only a limited amount of data
that we can get turned round quickly and published
in a form that is easily readable", he
"We simply couldnít get all the
variations on the data that everyone would like at
the time that they want it, and in a form that
they can use it".
"I have to admit that we have always
worked on the assumption that maximum yield
figures are what most people want, but we are now
aware that that is not always the case".
"The times they are aíchanging, and all
of this kind of thing is up for discussion as we
look at the future of the Lists, the trials and
FORAGE AS WELL
Stephen is also concerned that the forage and
maize Lists are not appropriate for farmer use.
"The information is woeful, and fails to
serve NIABís main customer - the farmer".
"The forage and maize lists arrive one
year after harvest - thatís disgusting. The
grass tables themselves show no disease ratings,
no water soluble carbohydrates - no digestibility
"The merchants have this information in
their handbook - privy only to them unless you
trap their fingers in a vice.. If ever there were
a restrictive practice - this is it!"
"This is not really my field",
admitted Richard Fenwick, "but the fact is
that this information is paid for by the
merchants, and they have the right to make use of
"All I can suggest is that Stephen should
go to a merchant and ask to see the figures he is
Contact Stephen Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Richard Fenwick at email@example.com