The 3x3 initiative is a technical partnership between Yara, BASF and Monsanto aimed at driving a better understanding of the agronomic choices available to meet the economic and environmental challenges in growing oilseed rape.
Oilseed rape is a key crop for the UK agricultural industry, with a strong history and good potential to develop further. At the same time the technical environment is changing, with perhaps the greatest significant agronomic and legislative challenges the crop has ever faced.
To address these challenges, Yara have developed a technical partnership together with BASF and Monsanto and the three companies are launching the '3 x 3 Driving OSR forward' initiative to demonstrate the most effective management and agronomy via trials, open days and knowledge transfer.
Mark Tucker, Yara, Chief Agronomist-North East Europe points out that The HGCA Report 502 and the HGCA Oilseed Guide, updated in January 2014, highlighted a number of issues or uncertainties around varietal choice, fertiliser use, rotations and crop protection. “It stated that there was around a 3t/ha yield gap between the current varietal potential and farm yields. 5-6 t/ha yields are being achieved in isolated fields or blocks so it is possible." The Report also quotes “To restore rising yields in the face of warmer conditions, economic or environmental pressures and evolving weeds, pests or disease threats, a more holistic approach to agronomy is needed.”
Mark explains that with the three partner's strengths in crop protection, plant breeding and plant nutrition, the 3 x 3 Initiative aims to utilise the teams' extensive know-how and resources to help provide solutions to meet these challenges in a holistic way. Based on the key farm drivers of yield, profit and sustainability, the partnership will focus on two key pillars; good management and the need for a sustainable approach. “The initial work concentrates on ensuring early rapid establishment and the management of rapid autumn growth.”
Establishment is key for success in oilseed rape
Mark Tucker of Yara concurs that better establishment is the key for success in oilseed rape, yet he reports autumn nutrition becoming less popular due to NVZ and other legislation as well as lack of conclusive evidence. “Both the percentage of area treated and the application rate of nitrogen used in the autumn has declined over recent years. Around 32% of the rape crop received autumn nitrogen in 2013, whereas in 1985 it was close to 90%. We now have new, positive evidence to show that autumn Nitrogen really helps establishment and its use represents a 3 to 1 return on investment, based on current yields and prices.”
“Currently 72% of the rape area receives Sulphur, where as we would advise 80 to 90% should be receiving it. Once again more up-to-date data shows over 3 times return when you apply 69 kgs/ha of Sulphur - so for every £1 you spend, you will get £3.22 back. This new evidence indicates no need to change the amount of Sulphur applied, but demonstrates that two applications give the best yield response. In trials when 60 kg/ha of SO³ was applied little and often, it gave an extra yield of 0.5 t/ha,” he says.
70 to 80% of the UK crop is short of micronutrients
He also reports that 70 to 80% of the UK crop is deficient of micronutrients especially Boron. “Boron is necessary for shoot and root development, yet 60% of rape crops will not get any treatment. Yet our trials show a 7 to 11% yield increase.”
The 3x3 Initiative trials and open days will focus on two farm-based trials sites - Perdiswell Farm, near Woodstock (James Price) and Flagleaf Farming, Burton, near Lincoln (Jim Beedon) – reflecting the different conditions and challenges of OSR production across the country. “The three companies will work closely together, under the 3x3 banner, to evaluate the most effective management and agronomy over the growing season.”