Agraforum UK

AgraForum UK has been formed by myself and AgraForum NZ to trial the potential of ComCat and related products in the UK with the intention of bringing them to the commercial marketplace. I came across the product shortly before leaving New Zealand, following working there for nearly 4 years as an independent agronomist on the Canterbury Plains, South Island.

Having seen what a difference applying ComCat had made to a crop of vining peas on one of my clients farms, I was keen to look at it in further depth. Mountainview Agronomy, a partnership between Molloy Agricultural Spraying and myself, had some of our clients crops treated and achieved good results. The margin over cost was more than enough for the growers involved to be planning it on the following season’s crops.

With different climatic conditions and soil fertility to where a lot of the work has been done, I was unsure how it would perform in the UK and compete commercially with current practices.  Following good initial trial results we are investing further in the company with the aim of bringing a sustainable, environmentally sound product both to conventional and organic farming systems. Having the ability to be used in organic production is a great benefit for us as a company and hopefully the organic grower, in what aren’t easy times.

One key area we are keen to push on with is what ComCat can replace in a current program yet still maintains yields and quality. As an agronomist it is always a concern when there is talk of chemicals not making re-registration under new EU policy. If we can be triggering a plants natural defence mechanisms using an organic, renewable source you’d hope there is a long term future for the product.

We will be looking at Oilseed Rape in particular and whether we can drop out strobilurin or SDHI fungicides and still get satisfactory sclerotinia control through plant resistance as well as any positive effects on reduction of Verticillium Wilt.

Other areas include ComCat’s positive effects on drought and heat stressed crops through the reduction of biotic and abiotic stresses, quite an important topic in 2011 but not so much last year.  The extensive work being done in New Zealand and South Africa, both known for tough growing conditions, is helping us get an understanding of where ComCat can increase yield and add value.

The work we are also doing on co-formulation with micro-nutrients and innovative leaf penetrant systems will hopefully allow us to bring an easy to use bio-stimulant that will help release plants natural potential.

 

 

Will Foster

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