At Organic Arable we believe in supporting our members to run their own trials and to participate in collective experiments to help expediate and improve learning on organic agronomy and crop performance. Conscious of the fact that there is little focus from research or industry on organic farming, we see our network of organic farmers as holding the key to conducting research that can benefit the organic sector and help to improve productivity and grain quality for the benefit of the farmer and the market. We as a group must take responsibility in lieu of having any other reliable source of information or advice to answer the key questions we have pertaining to "real world" organic arable crop production.
To this end we have been instrumental in setting up and coordinating on-farm variety trials in wheat, oats and now beans. There is so much we can learn from these kind of collective experiments, not just about varieties but also about the environmental and management interactions that take place. We want to find a way of better capturing farmer's insights and understanding of their own crops whilst also appreciating that whilst funding is available we need to find mechanisms to make these initiatives self-sustaining and economically viable. The approach we've taken with the spring oat trials is to charge a research levy to both White's and our members who supply them to keep that research going to find the best varieties for both farm and mill. With research funding form LiveSeeding we can facilitate the bean trials for the next three years, and as a business have chosen to fund the LiveWheat legacy trials, having made a commitment to research for our members.
To maximise the opportunity for information and learning that the on-farm trials offer, we would like to start encouraging and supporting our members to start collecting their own data in a relatively simple yet structured way so have adapted an ORC crop assessment protocol and data sheet. It's a work in progress that we will continue to adapt and improve over time but we would like our LiveCrop hosts to print it and take it out into the field with you to spend some time comparing the different varieties you are growing. Most of the assessments are simple visual scoring to provide a quantitative and therefor analyzable basis for comparing crops.
The first key assessment timing is around stem extension and we will be encouraging you to head out to monitor and assess what's happening in the fields.