Students join in at Wynnstay’s Maize Trials Day
Around a dozen students from Reaseheath College in Nantwich, Cheshire took maize samples for testing to Wynnstay’s LG and Limagrain Trials Day, held at Bangor on Dee on the Wales/Shropshire border near Oswestry.
The students’ visit was organised by Sarah-Jane Baldwin, Wynnstay’s Arable and Feed Sales Specialist for Cheshire, North Shropshire and North Staffordshire, who led the tour of the maize trials screening site and was thrilled with the trial results.
Sarah-Jane said: “The results of the six samples that the students collected from different fields, with varying sowing dates, looked good straight away and on closer inspection, proved to be outstanding. They highlighted the maturity of the Reason variety of maize.
“Dry Matter (DM) results ranged from 32.5% to 33.1% and Metabolisable Energy (ME) was from 11.7 MJ/kg to 11.8 MJ/kg.
“I’m really pleased that I’ve been working with the students at Reaseheath College.
The students asked lots of questions and the feedback I had the next day from them and their lecturer, David Roberts, was that it was a great, informative day.
“Working together so closely on the results was beneficial for all and I was pleased that we’ve supplied the maize to Reaseheath this year.
“I went to the college after the event, to sit down in the farm office and to go over the results with the third-year arable students, their lecturers, feed consultant and the farm manager.
“They are a really good group of students who are eager to learn. They come from all over the UK, from farming and non-farming backgrounds.”
Brian Copestake, Field Seeds Sales Manager UK & Ireland – Limagrain UK, who accompanied the students during the tour, said the site has made an important contribution to the successful UK LG maize portfolio.
Brian said: “The Bangor site is part of our wider network, consisting of five locations. These locations vary in soil type and climatic areas around the UK, where maize is grown. Each site is used to challenge a range of material from our breeding programme, from new hybrids tested in the UK for the first time to commercial and near-commercial material that will be recognised by growers.
“The Bangor site has been going for around 25 years, so a vast amount of data has been collected over that time, helping to develop new hybrids that are adapted to the UK market. “Everything is drilled with our own precision drill and harvested with our bespoke plot harvester. Agronomy is in line with the farm practice, with a pre and post-emergence spray programme employed.
“Notes are taken throughout the season on the establishment, early vigour, lodging, diseases, stay green and, of course, yield and dry matter content. Our harvester is equipped with-on board NIRS and the maize from every plot is analysed for quality, giving important information on starch content and fibre digestibility. This informs our breeders about these characteristics to aid future breeding and helps us to characterize our new material.”
There are currently 750 varieties on trial at Bangor, representing over 1500 harvested plots. The vast majority of these hybrids are screened across all these sites, over a two-year period to test their adaptability to the UK.
Brian adds: “Only the best are selected to go forward for further testing and reduced in number to an elite group of 60 lines, from which the top six go forward into the official BSPB/NIAB Trials.
“Three years of official trials will follow before the variety appears on the UK Descriptive List, making the whole trialling process five-years-long, with further crossing and development before that.”
Wynnstay’s Arable division is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of crop production products to arable and grassland farmers and Wynnstay is the third-largest cereal seed producer in the UK.
Reaseheath College is one of the UK’s leading specialist land-based colleges. It has some of the best specialist facilities and resources in the country, thanks to a continuing £80 million investment across campus. This includes an £8 million Advanced Engineering and Agri-Tech Centre.
Limagrain is a fast-growing, farmer-owned international co-operative group, specialising in agricultural and horticultural seeds, plus cereal products. As the fourth largest breeder and seeds marketing company in the world, it employs 10,000 people with a turnover of more than 2.5 billion euros annually.
Caption: Sarah-Jane Baldwin, Wynnstay’s Arable and Feed Sales Specialist for Cheshire, North Shropshire and North Staffordshire, far left, is pictured with students from Reaseheath College. Also pictured is Brian Copestake, (second from the right) Field Seeds Sales Manager UK & Ireland – Limagrain UK.