Kelso trials show fungicides are ‘only part of the solution’


Contact us to see how we can help on 0115 939 0202 or


Kelso trials show fungicides are ‘only part of the solution’

High disease levels in winter wheat at Agrovista’s Borders trial site AgX Kelso have underlined the dangers of relying on fungicides alone to protect crops.

Speaking to Scottish Farmer after a recent open day at the Ploughlands, St Boswells site, technical manager John Murrie said this had been the worst season for Septoria tritici for several years.

“When you are carrying out disease trials in crops you always want disease to be there,” John said. “But this year there was so much Septoria present that differences between the various fungicide programmes we used are going to be a bit difficult to pull out.

“In a season like we’re having, chemistry can only go so far – it’s clear it is only part of the solution, particularly under severe disease pressure. Even with robust rates of modern chemistry some varieties with lower Septoria resistance ratings, including some widely grown for distilling, were infected with a lot of disease.”

The trials also closely examined fungicide rates and responses, stress-testing the T1 and T2 fungicide portfolio, comparing and contrasting the extremes from high rates of top-flight chemistry to lower input, less robust chemistry.

“The plot combine will give us the full story, but I’m sure the wheels could come off some of the cheaper programmes in the next few weeks,” John said.

AgX Kelso trails tour with John Murrie

“It is clear chemistry needs to be backed up by other factors that will help reduce disease threat. Obviously variety choice is one, but this has to be balanced against other factors such as market suitability. Hard group 4s might have better ratings, but they are no good for distilling.

“Later sowing will help reduce disease levels, but in Scotland that’s not really an option for most growers – you may end up not getting it in the ground if you go too late.”

Bioscience products could be a useful addition to the Scottish growers’ armoury, particularly when used as part of a programme. 

“Agrovista has a very useful range of products that help keep plants in good health and improve nutrient use efficiency, improving plants’ ability to fend off pathogens,” John said.

“For example, Calfite applied in the autumn and/or early spring will help improve rooting, while Twoxo applied around GS31 stimulates the plant to increase carbon dioxide and nitrogen uptake, increasing biomass and yield.

“Klorofill at the T2 timing helps maximise green leaf area and plant biomass, and can boost Septoria control as well. We’ve also had very good results using T6P at T3, boosting the starch content of the grain and increasing yield.”

High performance wheat

Among the many varieties on display was Mindful, a new high-performance winter wheat from Agrovista.

The variety, which will be commercially available this autumn, has shown remarkable high-yield consistency and has topped in-house trials in two very different years, said Agrovista technical seed specialist Stuart Cree.

“Regardless of region and whether sown early or late, Mindful offers a consistently strong yield performance as a first or second wheat and was notable for its early drilling performance in official trials harvest 2022 in Scotland.

“The variety also exhibits sound disease resistance and a high specific weight, which safeguards quality, yield, and value against difficult seasons, whether deluge or drought,” Stuart said.

Mindful’s disease resistance ratings suggested multi-gene protection derived from parents Evolution and Costello, he added.

* Agrovista has pledged to donate 10% of the profits from seed sales of Mindful to support the Farming Community Network and RSABI and to help raise awareness of these charities’ helplines.

“Many farmers are facing increasing business and personal pressures that can seriously affect mental and physical wellbeing,” said head of marketing Jodie Champion. “Our donation will support the exceptional work these charities carry out.”