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Data For Varietal Choice

DR THOMAS GATE

Varietal choice is a great example of how verified data can help make informed, outcome-based decisions. It’s a choice you as a farmer make each year, and it’s critical to underpinning the success of your rotational strategies and overall farm performance.  

Varietal data analysis in pounds per hectare to help inform farming decisions on cropping

Above is a breakdown of the costs for Harvest 2023’s Winter Wheat on a £/ha basis. 

From data sets like these, we provide our customers support around varietal choice. The needs & factors of each farm are different - the value lies in the insight which accurate data provides for informing decisions.  

For example, if you’re considering which Group 4 choice to go with, it’s interesting to see the lesser cost in fertiliser SY Insitor received compared to Champion (with Champions’ costs comprising of over 46% on fertiliser.)  

Knowing the numbers behind your varietal choice is essential. Being able to visualise the relevant information, and trust its reliability, is a powerful tool for supporting these choices. And having the accurate data on hand enables you to associate a cost with each decision you make.   

Do you use farm management software to inform and justify your decisions with accurate insights like this? 

Why It Matters

Variety choice ties in with your wider strategies and goals.  

Let’s say you’re considering a variety with high disease resistance, for which KWS Extase scores well in the RL/NL lists and is marketed as such. But when you look at the data, fungicide spend is just as high for Extase as many other varieties (£119.52/ha.)  

Would you rather pay royalties on a sought-after variety and adjust your input programme, or stick with your current inputs and invest slightly less in the seed? Or something in between? 

That depends whether you subscribe to ‘high in, hight out’ or ‘less is best.’ Either way - you need the hard data by your side to make sure every decision you make is the most profitable for your farm.

Marry Performance and Cost 

Graph showing Cost of Production per tonne for main Wheat varieties. Agricultural data for informing decisions on farm and supporting farm benchmarking

It’s important to focus on the ‘Cost of Production per Tonne’ (above) and ‘gross margin’ of each crop. We see COP £/t as the marriage between performance and cost, and the most telling indicator to use for benchmarking and informing decisions.   

Looking at KWS Zyatt, the £/ha was similar to Crusoe, however the £/t is lower. This could be due to a range of factors, but largely indicates that it yielded well and offers a good return for growers.  

Would visually receiving information like the above help you consider your options? Are you already monitoring your gross margins on a £/t basis?  

Winter Wheat Variety Yields

Graph displaying winter wheat variety yields for farm benchmarking

The arable industry adage ‘yield is king’ still resonates, although perhaps less so going forwards as the landscape and priorities shift with changing policies. We believe this outdated adage needs to change to ‘efficiency is king.’  

That said, since production remains at the core of our farming community, above we are displaying the yield ranges of the most grown Winter Wheat varieties on our platform (2023.)   

KWS Extase stands out with the highest recorded yield of 14.2 t/ha from our datasets, but has outliers at the lower end of the spectrum also. Many commentators continue to attribute the ongoing success of KWS Extase to its strong Septoria resistance.  

LG Astronomer achieved an average yield around 11.5 t/ha, however it’s consistency across all farm variables (weather, soil type, etc) landed it at the top of our Normalised Yields. It performed well across our platform with few outliers, achieving on average 10% higher yield than LG Skyscraper.   

What does your farm data say about yield variation? And about variable Costs of Production?  

Do you use varietal level data to support farm benchmarking? 

If you find these statistics useful and want to benchmark more of your season – get your free copy of the Harvest23 Review here.   

Thomas Gate is an Analyst in the Data Team. With a passion for data and agriculture, Thomas grew up around farming and agronomy. With a day-to-day role of cleaning, processing and analysing complex data sets for bespoke farm projects, Thomas and the Data Team are exploring the endless possibilities of how data can be best used to aid and inform farmers. Outside of work...Thomas enjoys getting outdoors through playing football, running or a bit of gardening. He also likes to expand his programming skills with a variety of small projects.