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Calendar of IFDC Training Workshops
27 May 2019 - 21 Nov 2019
2019 IFS Agronomic Conference
12 Dec 2019 - 13 Dec 2019
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Delegates left the 2017 IFS Agronomic Conference stimulated

This year's Conference provided another set of varied, valuable and thought provoking presentations.

This year's programme covered a range of topics, including the nutritional value of cover crops, the role of worms in relation to soil structure and sustainability, spectral reflectance to support decision making for crop nutrition, new research in the use of spinning spreaders in precision agriculture, a new way to diagnose P deficiency in plants, establishing symbiotic nitrogen fixation in cereals and other non-legume crops, the effect of plant variety on the NUE of bread wheat, moves towards a new strategy for phosphorus nutrition of arable crops in developed agricultural systems, new data on the measurement and abatement of ammonia emissions from Irish agriculture, and a review of the nutritional value of biochar and the compost potential of EU urban waste.

Inevitably, some presentations stand out during the conference, often because they combine substance with novelty.  The two presentations that achieved this in 2017 were Jackie Stroud's talk on Worms, soil structure and sustainability, and Ted Cocking's on his work to enable crops to fix their own nitrogen. 

Jackie's paper combined data from long term trials at Rothamsted with studies carried out elsewhere to characterise the impact of worms on productivity, and the impact of different types of cultivation on worm populations.  Delegates discovered that worm behaviour is more complicated than most of us had imagined, while the practice of using worm midden density as a measure of soil health had a few scratching their heads!

In contrast, Ted's paper was more at the science laboratory end of the spectrum, albeit with near term practical applications. This paper provided a historical context for the work at Nottingham University to induce nitrogen fixing bacteria to prosper within the cells of, potentially, all major crop plants.  This work has reached the stage of field trials and is about to be made available commercially. The interesting, and somewhat substantial, debating point this raised concerns the implications of this technology for the nitrogenous fertiliser industry. 

Summaries of all the papers can be viewed by clicking on the links:

809 - Effect of variety on nitrogen use efficiency of bread-wheat: from breeding programs to farm practice

810 - Soil aggregate stability and macrofauna as indicators of soil health and sustainable agricultural systems

811 - Developments in the use of chlorophyll a fluorescence to diagnose phosphorus deficiency in plants

812 - Crop spectral reflectance to support decision making on crop nutrition

813 - Effect of agronomic management on pasture response and fertiliser phosphorus use efficiency over time: an Australian perspective

814 - The greener nitrogen revolution: cereal and other non-legume crop symbiotic nitrogen fixation

815 - Ammonia emissions from pasture-based production systems: a collation of Irish research

816 - The improvement of centrifugal fertiliser spreaders for precision application control

As has been the case for the last few conferences, there was an eclectic display of posters.  This year the poster that was voted most noteworthy by the largest number of delegates was one from Society stalwart Chris Dawson (who was suitably embarrassed) on Sulphur - an essential nutrient for legumes.  This can be viewed here.

The rest of the posters can be seen via these links: Posters 1 Posters 2 Posters 3

This year's Conference hosted the third final of the Brian Chambers international award for early career researchers in crop nutrition.  An account of this year's entries, and links to view the posters of the winner and two runners up, can be seen here.

Lastly, forward diary dates for the 2018 Agronomic Conference are 6-7 December. It will be held at Robinson College, Cambridge, as usual.