Project Lamport update 6 - R&D

Project Lamport, now in its seventh year, is embracing digital for 2020. The team, including Head of Soils, Chris Martin; Farming Systems Research & Development Advisor, Niall Atkinson; Director of Wright Resolutions Ltd, Phillip Wright; and Independent (PhD) Researcher, David Purdy, will be sharing regular updates from the site in Northamptonshire.

For our sixth blog update, Niall is joined by Technical Manager Mark Hemmant, to discuss R&D at Project Lamport.

Technical Manager, Mark Hemmant

“For Project Lamport, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Investigating seedbed nitrogen and nitrogen dose response work in blackgrass situations has all been done. As spring cereals become more dominant in rotations, our new challenge is to see how we can drive them forward most effectively.

A lot of this lies in soil health. But, in order to make our work relevant to growers across the country, we recognise that our R&D shouldn’t just be about the soils at Lamport.

Starting with Project Lamport where we have high calcareous soil, our work has shown that adding something to release phosphorus is really important, as these soils ‘lock’ it up. If phosphorus is locked up, it won’t be available to the crop.

In contrast, where we have high magnesium soils, we have been investigating the benefits of applying a liquid gypsum product - a useful nutrition source of calcium and sulphur. This helps to not only improve soil structure, but also balances calcium-magnesium ratios.

By improving soil health and making nutrition more freely available, we can reduce the reliance on traditional crop protection products and use them more efficiently.

We also have some exciting pipeline projects, one of which looks at if we can remove metal completely. An example here at Project Lamport is where we broadcast cover crop seed into the standing crop, followed by direct drilled spring wheat. The aim of this is to truly maximise soil health, and we hope to investigate this further.

Another aim is to have a permanent under-sowing of clover in a spring cereal plot. This will enable us to look at weed suppression potential as well as additional soil fertility benefits of legumes.

Because growing a successful crop of oilseed rape is often hindered by flea beetle, our R&D plans also include trying alternative establishment methods for OSR and winter linseed on heavy soils with blackgrass pressure.

Pushing our R&D and Project Lamport forward is vital in enabling us to provide growers with new and innovative solutions that work in a practical situation.”