Farming News - Largest ever agronomy zone for Cereals 2024

Largest ever agronomy zone for Cereals 2024

Over 600 individual crop plots from 25 exhibitors will give visitors to Cereals access to the very latest in crop breeding, protection, nutrition, and science on 11-12 June in Hertfordshire.



"The plots are looking well," says Will Davies, farming consultant at Ceres Rural, who has overseen their agronomy and management. "The site has coped well with a challenging growing period, which is a credit to site manager Jonathan Backhouse, NIAB's Shawn Coleman and our host farmers Alex Farr and Edward Wainright Lee.

"The plots will allow visitors to see first-hand varieties, nutrition, biological products and inputs, as well as new innovations and niche crops. And there are more exhibitors than ever - it's a great opportunity to see all they have to offer in one place."

Ceres Rural will be on hand to guide visitors though the event's popular winter wheat and barley feature, as well as offering independent advice to visitors. "It's great to be involved in this area of the show again. It gives us the opportunity to meet more people and hear their experiences of the year so far."

So what will visitors be able to see?


KWS will be showcasing four new winter wheat candidates and three new winter barley candidates, plus new technologies in sugar beet breeding.

Selected from the breeder's 10-strong winter wheat candidate list, KWS Vibe, KWS Arnie, KWS Solitaire, and KWS Mongoose will be representing groups one through to four, respectively. KWS Solitaire will put confidence back in the group three market with its Cougar-free parentage and respectable septoria score. "We're confident in it," says Olivia Potter, technical manager for conventional cereals.

For bold yields, KWS Arnie will pique interest as the first KWS Extase cross, while KWS Mongoose offers the group four market the perfect combination of specific weight, yield, and orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) resistance.

The breeder's two-row winter barley candidates – KWS Heraclis and KWS Valencis – and six-row hybrid candidate KWS Inys - offer step-changes in their respective fields. "KWS Inys is our first entry into the hybrid barley game, and in NL2 trials it was the highest yielding," explains Mrs Potter.

The breeder will also have a sugar beet offering, with a new cercospora-tolerant variety, Chyma KWS.  "Listed by the British Beet Research Organisation, Chyma KWS has a good all-round disease package and a high yield (101% of controls)," says sugar beet agroservice manager, Martin Brown.

"Alongside our other newer technologies - Conviso Smart and Yellow Virus tolerance - the cercospora technology shows our efforts in breeding, and our commitment to the sugar beet market."


Putting plant science into practice, NIAB will be featuring over 20 different crop species across its 11 crop plot features.

"Cereals is a great opportunity to share the breadth of our research and practical farm innovations with growers and agronomists," says NIAB's head of communications, Ros Lloyd. "As ever, we will have a team on hand to answer questions – be that on variety choice or regenerative principles, through to alternative cropping options, input strategies and so on."

On the agenda will be the winter wheat and barley variety choice feature, with 32 listed and candidate varieties. And the 20m-long, 2m-deep soil hole will demonstrate the science behind regenerative agriculture - featuring a range of 'sustainable' crop options, including wheats and hybrid cereals, herbal leys and legume mixes, as well as grass and clover, and grazing mixes.

Cropping options in the face of climatic pressures will also be demonstrated in NIAB's bi-cropping and protein crop features - including lupins, peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas – as well as a wheat blends and novel crop showcase.

As well as regen ag, NIAB's showcase will address fungicide and nitrogen strategies – the latter exploring how alternative fertilisers, biostimulants, and biological products can help reduce soil-applied nitrogen. Diseases will also be addressed, with the latest on septoria as well as brown and yellow rust, and how natural diversity can improve disease resistance against disease like fusarium foot-rot.


Having had its biggest autumn for launching new varieties, Senova is focusing its spotlight on what's coming in the winter wheat and barley market.

Taking a top spot on Senova's plots is the breeder's group three winter wheat newcomer, Almara. Recommended for the northern region, where it has given its best yield performance, it is also suitable for distilling, and meets biscuit quality requirements for both the domestic and export markets. Three new hard feed winter wheat candidates will also be on offer – Riley, Rufus and Memphis – all high yielding (105 to 106% treated – UK).

Barley growers will also want to check out winter feed barley candidates, Organa and Kitty. "Organa is a BYDV-tolerant two-row - there are currently no BYDV-tolerant two-rows on the market," says managing director, Tom Yewbrey. "Kitty is very high-yielding at 106% (treated - UK) with the highest specific weight of all candidates at 73.7kg/hl, and is resistant against strain one and two of barley yellow mosaic virus (BYMV)."

For those with an interest in pulses, triticale and oats, new and established varieties will also be on offer. Additionally, Senova is bringing the oat supply chain together with breeders from Aberystwyth and mill representatives in attendance.

Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF)

With six plots of Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) options on display at this year's event, Mark Taylor, senior CSF officer for Yorkshire and Humber, says Cereals represents an invaluable opportunity to demonstrate SFI actions to farmers.

"We'll be on hand to talk about the management of these different options, the application, what they're worth to farmers and how to integrate them into farming systems."

The six plots include popular SFI options:

·         Herbal ley;

·         Pollan and nectar flower mix;

·         Autumn-sown legume fallow;

·         Spring-sown legume fallow

·         Spring-sown bird mix;

·         Spring-sown cover crop; likely to be made a new SFI option in summer 2024.

"We've got 23 SFI options available," says Mr Taylor. "This summer, Defra is launching a further 100 options, of which a spring cover crop is very likely one of them."

The SFI offering is applicable, practical, and realistic – and generating interest, but Mr Taylor's key message is that the SFI will continue to evolve. "We're going to see developments over time with Defra reacting to changes in farming. And we're really keen to have discussions with farmers, so encourage people to visit our plots and ask the questions."


With more growers looking to reduce artificial inputs like fertilisers and chemicals, the biostimulant manufacturer AminoA will once again focus its plots on high health, low input.

Oilseed rape (Ambassador), tricticale (Fido), and winter wheat (Typhoon) will be used to demonstrate how its highly concentrated amino acid biostimulants can improve soil microbiology, plant health, productivity, and nitrogen efficiency.

A standout feature of AminoA's plots are the nitrogen strategy blocks, which comprise blocks of each crop, treated with three nitrogen application rates – no artificial fertiliser, 70kg/ha of soil-applied urea and 150kg/ha of soil-applied urea, each treated with a 100% natural L-a amino acid and nutrient biostimulant.

Side-by-side, the plots demonstrate the potential for artificial nitrogen reduction. "The plots are showing very little difference between the crops that received 70kg of artificial fertiliser and 150kg," says managing director, Richard Phillips. "It demonstrates that growers can grow productive arable crops with much lower levels of artificial nitrates when you have an efficient nutrient strategy."


For many farmers, reliable varieties sit outside of the RL, and Agrii will be reflecting this in its wheat and barley plots, alongside a display of cover crops and environmental mixtures.

Selected off-list will be two group four winter feed wheats – soft wheat LG Tapestry (Limagrain) and hard wheat Fitzroy (Secobra). "We wanted to include them in our Cereals offering because, from a sustainability angle, they are interesting in their disease resistance," explains crop inputs specialist, Poppy Bunting. "Fitzroy has a really high septoria score (7.4 advisory), which is particularly important in the West of the country."

Into winter barley and there will be an RL offering; the two-row malting barley Bolivia (Syngenta). "It's a short, stiff, and really clean variety," says Ms Bunting. "We also have a six-row hybrid on the plots; SY Armadillo (Syngenta), which we've chosen to support because of its very strong brackling resistance score – which feeds into our aim of selecting varieties to tackle the challenges our growers are experiencing."

And for spring barley growers, Skyway (Nordic Seeds) will be one to look at, with its high yield, bold specific weight, and recent approval for the brewing market.

"We will also have our farm-saved seed team with us because we are seeing more enquiries around saved farm seed."

Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research will be present with plots and scientists showcasing some of the institute's latest research in crop breeding, gene editing, pathology and regenerative agriculture.

Bridging the gap between research and commercial farming, Rothamsted will demonstrate its work with camelina to produce a plant-derived source of omega three long-chain fatty acids. It will explore findings from its UK-first trials of low asparagine wheat, developed using a new genome editing technique. "We will be seeing gene edited crops in the field in the UK, probably in the next 2-5 years," says Rothamsted's head of communications, James Clarke.

"We'll also be demonstrating our work around regenerative practices, like no-till, as well as how to make improvements to carbon sequestration. There is also an on-farm spore detection technology which is very important for growers because it will identify the disease-causing pathogen present and allow the grower to apply the right chemicals at the right time.

"Conversations with growers, and other people involved in the industry, are essential in informing and the application of science to create solutions that will be impactful."  

Elsoms Seeds

Returning to Cereals after a five-year hiatus, Elsoms' crop plots will feature a scope of new varieties including the newly recommended group three winter wheat Bamford, says Elsoms' marketing and communications manager Grant Hawkins. "It's a leading variety on the RL this year and it's a big deal for us, and being in group three, quite a big deal for the industry.

"We've also got our soft group four Blackstone, which is newly recommended. It'll grow well throughout the UK but is particularly suited to a northern area, and has malt distilling qualities – so good market potential."

Winter barley will also feature with an old RL favourite; Bolton - a two-row feed type, and RL newcomer Buccaneer - a two-row malting type. Making an additional statement will be the breeder's hybrid ryes, which are interesting for their biogas suitability.

Elsoms will also be looking to engage with growers and agronomists about responsive rotations – a principle which sees variety selection based on key focuses like climate change, reduced inputs, diversity and so on. "A lot of the varieties we showcase will represent these focuses."


Corteva will be focusing on biological products and crop protection technology. "We've got our sclerotinia-tolerant oilseed rape variety PT303 alongside our next-generation hybrid varieties PT315 and PT312," says Corteva's marketing manager UK & Ireland, Alex Nichols. "We've got plots of wheat and oilseed rape that have been treated with our herbicide range, and wheat plots treated with our Inatreq fungicide product."

Corteva will also have plots demonstrating its biological products; BlueN – a biostimulant containing free nitrogen-fixing bacteria – and Kinsidro Grow - a foliar biostimulant combining humic and fulvic acids with key nutrients to increase chlorophyll and improve photosynthesis.

"We have these plots at Cereals to get the conversation going around plant health and resilience, the opportunities from biological products and how they differ from conventional crop protection," says category marketing manager John Sellars. "And we can demonstrate that response on these plots – having crops at the event gives context to what we discuss."

Corteva will also be unveiling its latest technology in crop protection, which undoubtedly will be a huge move for the industry.

Another focus will be on an up-and-coming market - grain maize. Visitors can view rows of Pioneer maize set alongside a combine maize grain header. "There's a small established area of grain maize and interest is growing," says area sales manager, Johnathan Bellamy. "It will be of particular interest to farmers looking for alternative break crops and, when grown in the right area, it could be as profitable to any other break crops.

"We wanted to use Cereals to raise awareness of it as an up-and-coming UK market, as well as the potential for grain maize in an arable rotation; because it is a late-planted spring crop, it could be useful in blackgrass control."

Visitors will be able to discuss the whole agronomy of the crop – from site selection through to variety choice, establishment, protection, nutrition and the value of under-sowing. "We really enjoy Cereals," concludes Mr Nichols. "It's a great shop window for our products and team, and an opportunity to talk with lots of farmers and agronomists in one space."


Oilseed rape (OSR) sowing times and pulses will be a big focus for LSPB at this year's Cereals, with a special guest feature and crop specialists on hand to help growers put their finger on the pulse. "A key focus is late-sown OSR," says LSPB pulse product manager, Michael Shuldham. "We're excited to be hosting Dr Ute Kropf, who has more than 40 years' experience in OSR, for two talks about late-sown OSR and crop physiology.

To support these technical sessions, LSPB has comparison plots of its new RL candidate variety, Maverick, as late-sown and standard plots. "We want to show that late-sown OSR can avoid the main cabbage stem flea beetle migration," explains Mr Shuldham. "But it will also show how getting the crop to the right stage before winter can improve yield potential."

The team will also be showcasing a new spring green pea variety, Pangea. "It will be new to the descriptive list and following on from Carrington – which has done very well," he adds.

"And we'll also have new winter and spring bean varieties on display with low vicine/convicine (LVC); a big focus for us in spring beans which can revolutionise pulse markets – reducing reliance on imported soya and adding a new market outlet."

Amstel Agro

Amtsel Agro will be showing visitors how its range of mineral fertilisers and biostimulants can help improve crop resilience. A highlight of the firm's crop plots is its trial work, says Dan Gulliver. "We've got side-by-side treated and untreated plots of wheat and oilseed rape, demonstrating the benefits of our liquid product SF-Y, which contains the most bioavailable form of silicon – orthosilicic acid.

"Silicon is an important element for plant growth and health; it assists nutrient uptake, frees up phosphorus in the root zone, strengthens cell walls, increases photosynthesis and resistance to pests, diseases and climatic stress. But frequently it is included in products as potassium silicate which isn't very bioavailable to the plant, and therefore not as effective."

Applied to OSR as a pest preventative - at two, four and six leaves – the OSR is visibly ahead of the untreated crops. And where the crop was treated at fertiliser intervals – T0 to T2 – it is even further ahead. "We wanted to show it at minimum usage levels to represent farm application as closely as possible."


Displaying conventional OSR varieties which lend themselves to farm-saved seed, a highlight of Grainseed's offering will be its big plot of Pinnicle. "It's the highest rated conventional variety on the RL, with good disease resistance and stem strength," says seed specialist Ed Stanford.

"It was bred in the UK by Mike Pickford and is perfect for our conditions – he breeds for big pods with big seeds. United Oilseeds will also be exhibiting and able to give growers an independent view of varieties."

To showcase breeding progress, Grainseed will also have a plot of an up-and-coming unnamed variety on display. "It's important to keep growers up-to-date with what's going on in terms of breeding and market progression," adds Mr Standford. "We'll also have our show trailer, which will be a hub to discuss our maize and cereal crops, as well as our SFI mixes, alongside technical support on farm-saved seed."

Limagrain (LG)

Next-generation crops and high-yielding varieties are a key focus for LG at this year's Cereals. It has seventh-generation hybrid OSR varieties on display, including newl- recommended LG Armada and LG Academic, says arable development officer, Curtis Scarborough.

"They are two of the top three varieties – the third being LG Adeline. They have the added benefit of stem health, with LG Armada benefiting from Sclero-flex – a great sclerotinia resistance package which allows for a wider spraying window. It gives growers flexibility at a time of year when it is often too wet to get on and spray."

The breeder will also have the group four hard wheat,  LG Beowulf on its plots, which boasts a new RL title. "It's a very high-yielding variety and ticks all the boxes economically," says arable technical manager Ron Granger.

"We also have the highest yielding two-row barley LG Caravelle (106% of treated control) – it's a step-change for yield on farm. It also has a good specification weight, good disease resistance, and good straw."

For those looking at early drilling, LG Typhoon will be one to consider. "Growers aren't going to hold back this coming autumn with drilling, so we really see this variety coming into play there.

"Our portfolio at Cereals is strong," he adds. "We've got very erratic weather and conditions to produce crops under now. So the key thing  is having crops which are consistent under that pressure."