CONVISO® SMART sugar beet defies the critics
Steve Brummitt highlighting the performance of the CONVISO® ONE herbicide (right) with the fat-hen control achieved by classic herbicides (left)
Now in his third year with the CONVISO® SMART sugar beet system it’s fair to say that Steven Brummitt’s opinion has changed. Approached by KWS to sow 10 hectares of the crop as part of a network of four demonstration growers – one for each factory area – he saw it as an opportunity to test it in a few fields with a high weed burden. Three years on and a third of his crop area will be CONVISO® SMART.
The experience of the past two seasons has changed my mind.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
“I was sceptical,” he says of the system. “The claims being made as to its potential looked to be a little too good to believe and it seemed expensive. The experience of the past two seasons has changed my mind,” Mr Brummitt adds.
For some growers, the CONVISO® SMART system offers a solution to a non-existent problem. Either they don’t have a weed beet infestation in need of taming, or the weed control achieved by the likes of formulated products such as phenmedipham and ethofumesate is acceptable.
“I can understand why some have not taken a closer look. At one-third of our crop area, it provides a strategic option. The better weed control and the management flexibility it offers are a big part of the appeal for me. If we had outlying land, the time and money to be saved in fewer spray passes would be equally important.”
The management of the demonstration crops is left to the growers, but with KWS advising a herbicide strategy intent on highlighting both the performance of the CONVISO® ONE (foramsulforon + thiencarbazone-methyl) herbicide in comparison with the farm standard and identifying a programme that delivers the best all-round control. Were it not for Covid and the enforced lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, KWS would have invited growers from across the factory areas to visit the demonstration crops. The 2022 season is likely to be the first opportunity many will have to see up close what the system can deliver.
“It’s disappointing that growers haven’t had the opportunity to see the system for themselves or to hear about my experience. With me it has been a case of ‘seeing is believing’ and I’d like to think that had more growers seen it in person, it may have overcome some of the cynicism I’ve heard directed at the technology,” Mr Brummitt says.
The herbicide combines a contact and a residual and with only one application permitted to each crop, conditions at the time of application along with weed growth stage have been something he admits to paying close attention too.
“Fat-hen will remain the trigger weed as advised by KWS and Bayer and application will continue to be at four-true leaves, also as advised. This has worked well for us, so far.
“Initially I had concerns about a lack of soil moisture affecting the performance of the residual component of the herbicide, but these proved to be unfounded. It has delivered lasting control. The contact performance is exceptional. Tramline trials over the past two years have shown me there is no need to bolster control with either metamitron, phenmedipham or ethofumesate,” he says.
He admits that realising the potential of the CONVISO® ONE herbicide has taken time, not least because he was sceptical that it would be possible to achieve the desired weed control with only a single spray.
“In 2020 we trialled CONVISO® ONE with and without an oil. It made no difference to performance. Last year we adapted the programme to include a pre-emergence spray of metamitron, it proved unnecessary. This year, it will be just CONVISO® ONE. From a three- to four-spay strategy just a few years ago to needing only a single spray is hard to believe, but it’s the case,” Mr Brummitt says.
Application timing is a more flexible than with classic herbicides and this too has come to be appreciated.
“The sprayer workload is often intense because the cost of a machine makes it so. The classic beet will likely receive three sprays and timing will need to be managed carefully to avoid harming the crop. In contrast, the CONVISO® SMART crop will receive only a single spray and it can be at any time of the day. If it’s a decent spraying day and the leaf is dry, we get on with it.”
Central to this new approach is the weed control in dry soil conditions. “2020 was a dry year as was the start to 2021 and CONVISO® ONE delivered better weed control than the farm standard. For me, this is a compelling proposition,” he says.
CONVISO® ONE delivered better weed control than the farm standard.
This year’s KWS demonstration crop will be SMART RIXTA KWS alongside three candidate CONVISO® SMART varieties including one with BCN tolerance, while the farm’s own crop will be SMART JANNINKA KWS. According to the 2022 BBRO Recommended List, SMART RIXTA KWS has a mean yield of 92.2% of controls while SMART JANNINKA KWS has a mean yield of 88.6% of controls.
The classic varieties will be BTS1915 and Kortessa KWS both chosen for their high yields and low bolting scores. With mean yields of 107.3% and 99.9% of controls respectively, these varieties may appear to have a significant advantage over the CONVISO® SMART alternatives. Real-world yields and those seen in trials, however, are rarely the same.
“Based on experience so far, I expect the CONVISO® SMART beet to yield between 75 and 80t/ha adjusted whereas our average for the classic beet will be closer to 80t/ha adjusted. In this situation and on our most heavily weed infested fields, being able to save upwards of £100/ha on herbicides once application costs are included is not to be overlooked,” he says.
|CONVISO® SMART grower since:||2020|
|CONVISO® SMART area:||31 hectares|
|Reasons for using CONVISO® SMART:||