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Farmers weekly interactive, Friday 23 July 2010 16:48
The new variety from Potato Innovations (PI), known only as YP0243, has yielded nearly 35t/ha of marketable ware in the trials.
The variety has been placed in trials alongside six other varieties with Seabrook Crisps of Bradford.
YP0243 is due to receive registration as a formal variety this autumn. Then it is expected that a select number of growers will be contracted to grow the variety as a seed crop before it can be grown commercially.
"They have been particularly pleased with YP0243, saying it's the best they've had through the factory at this time of year," said Paul Knight, PI's technical director.
On light land in Fulford, Yorkshire, YP0243 has been yielding 34.6t/ha of marketable ware, compared with around 30.9t/ha from the field reference, specialist crisping variety Lady Rosetta.
However, Mr Knight said the biggest problem noted with YP0243 in the trial had been the disappointing level of weed control.
This was largely attributed to the crop having been planted under fleece rather than any breakdown in chemical effectiveness, explained Mr Knight. "By the time the fleece was removed, the weeds were too advanced."
"And we've had another six varieties here in the same trial, five of them crispers, all of which have shown potential in one way or another," added Mr Knight.
All the crisping varieties are being trialled with Seabrook Crisps, which has increased its annual throughput from 8000t to 50,000t in the last three years.
Mustang is similar to Lady Rosetta, boasting the same red skin and creamy flesh, explained Mr Kelsey.
"It's a well-performing general-purpose potato, possessing good eating qualities," he said."
ScienceDaily (July 15, 2010) — The nitrogen cycle is the natural process that makes nitrogen available to all organisms on earth. Scientists at the University of York have discovered that one of the world's most common and ecologically important groups of fungi plays an unsuspected role in this key natural cycle.
Almost all plants form symbiosis with fungi in their roots, know as mycorrhizas. The commonest type of mycorrhiza is called the arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) and involves two-thirds of plant species. Unlike most fungi, the AM fungi get their supply of sugars for energy and growth from their plant partner and not from the decomposition of organic matter. . Surprisingly, the researchers found that AM fungi thrive on decomposing organic matter and obtain large amounts of nitrogen from it. The fungus itself is much richer in N than plant roots, and calculations suggest that there is as much nitrogen in AM fungi globally as in roots. Since fungal hyphae (the threads of which the fungus is composed) are much shorter-lived than roots, this finding has implications for the speed with which nitrogen cycles in ecosystems,
The research, by Dr Angela Hodge and Professor Alastair Fitter in the Department of Biology at York was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, is published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Because these fungi cannot be grown in pure culture, the researchers created microcosms to isolate the fungi from plant roots and to allow them access to a patch of organic matter, and used stable isotopes to track the movement of nitrogen and carbon. Fungi that exploited decomposing organic matter were also better able to colonize a new plant. In addition, reducing the carbon supply to the fungus by shading the host plant did not diminish he fungal growth in the organic matter. Dr Hodge said: "We have known for a long time that these fungi play a central role in the phosphorus cycle; now it seems that they are equally important in the nitrogen cycle, opening the possibility of exploiting them in the development of more sustainable forms of agriculture. "
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of York.
There is now a small window for early buyers to complete their purchases before the market lull over harvest and holidays.
Livestock producers are chasing grass after the driest period for the northwest since 1929. Even so, sales of NPK have only seen a minor downturn.
Sulphur grades are selling at a small premium of £5/t over their straight nitrogen equivalents so there is no reason not to use this cheap, but immensely valuable nutrient.
Imported AN is not widely available at present, but prices are about £5/t below the UK equivalent. Around 100,000 tonnes of urea has been traded (40,000 believed to be ex-store from last season), but prices have been quite volatile, between £215/t and £240/t.
The market for phosphate and potash has been very quiet. Prices have dropped a little with both triple superphosphate and muriate trading between £305/t and £320/t.
However, the global forecast for these nutrients is one of reinvestment by farmers and growth in sales of the nutrients. Prices will not be stable for long, although after three or four years the supply of potash should be capable of exceeding demand.
As for the future supply balance of nitrogen, excessive imbalances either way are not immediately anticipated.
New capacity is planned, notably in the Middle East and China, but seemingly endless delays prevent the market from being currently swamped with product.
By 2014, supply is predicted to exceed demand by some 10%, but history teaches us that, should this be the case, it will lead to the removal of older, less-efficient plants from manufacturing.
July 2010 (£/t delivered)*
UK 34.5% N
NK Silage grades
£5 below domestic
*All illustrated prices are based upon 24t loads for cash payment the month following. Prices for smaller loads and 50kg bags will vary considerably.
ScienceDaily (July 12, 2010) — While scientists have conducted numerous studies on production of biomass from biofuel crops, such as switchgrass, no one has yet compiled this information to evaluate the response of biomass yield to soils, climate, and crop management across the United States.
A team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Dartmouth College published just such a study in the July-August 2010 Agronomy Journal, published by the American Society of Agronomy. The researchers used peer-reviewed publications to evaluate switchgrass yield as it relates to site location, plot size, stand age, harvest frequency, fertilizer application, climate, and land quality. Switchgrass is one type of crop under consideration for use as a feedstock for advanced biofuels.
The scientists compiled a total of 1,190 biomass yield observations for both lowland and upland types of switchgrass grown from 39 field sites across the United States. Observations were pulled from 18 publications that reported results from field trials in 17 states, from Beeville, TX in the south, to Munich, ND in the Midwest, and Rock Springs, PA in the northeast.
Among the many factors examined, statistical analysis revealed that much of the variation in yield could be accounted for by variation in growing season precipitation, annual temperature, nitrogen fertilization, and they type of switchgrass.
Lowland switchgrass outperformed upland varieties at most locations, except at northern latitudes. Annual yields averaged 12.9 metric tons per hectare for lowland and 8.7 metric tons for upland ecotypes. Some field sites in Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma reported biomass yields greater than 28 metric tons per hectare using the lowland cultivars Kanlow and Alamo.
The research team did not observe any bias for higher yields associated with experimental plot size, row spacing, or with preferential establishment of stands on high quality lands. A model developed from the data, based on long-term climate records, projected maximum yields in a corridor westward from the mid-Atlantic coast to Kansas and Oklahoma. Low precipitation west of the Great Plans limited yields in that region.
"Field trials are often planted to provide local estimates of crop production," said Stan Wullschleger, a crop physiologist who led the study. "However, viewed in a broader context, results from individual field trials can contribute to a larger perspective and provide regional to national scale estimates of yield and the variables that determine that yield."
Lee Lynd, co-author on the article and Steering Committee Chair of the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project observed, "This is the largest data base analyzed to date for energy crop productivity as a function of geographically distributed variables. The finding that there is no bias with respect to either plot size or land productivity is important. A promising future direction is to apply the modeling approaches taken here to additional bioenergy crops at a global scale in combination with various land use scenarios."
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Dartmouth College continue to explore factors involved in the production of biomass from switchgrass and other dedicated energy crops. One of the lessons learned from the current analysis is that yield data from an even broader range of soil and climatic conditions will be useful in building better predictive models. Future studies should extend the geographic distribution of field trials and thus improve our understanding of biomass production for promising biofuels like switchgrass.
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American Society of Agronomy.