New farmer-led group champions insecticide-free wheat

Wheat growers who want to leave behind the use of insecticides on their crop are invited to join a new farmer-led group that will develop the tools and the knowledge so they can do so with confidence, and benefit from new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) payments.

Anyone with a resolve to support the abundance of beneficial insects in arable crops can join the Genserus Circle that will come together at a webinar on Thursday 20 April at 8:30am, hosted by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN).

The initiative brings into perspective new genetics that offer protection to wheat crops from the day they’re planted to the date of harvest. It highlights practices that both build a thriving biodiversity and support productivity in the field.

Avoiding the cost of BYDV is for many farmers the only reason they still use insecticide on wheat.

The Genserus BYDV-resistant trait removes the need to apply insecticides to wheat early in the season, which for many farmers is the only time insecticide is used on the crop.

Coupled with other Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques proven to boost beneficial insects, this allows growers to go insecticide-free without risking losses from pest damage, and to benefit from the new £45/ha incentive available through Defra’s SFI.

“Growers who want take advantage of this payment can de-risk themselves by growing a Genserus variety,” says Lee Bennett of RAGT Seeds who have brought the BYDV-resistant trait to market.

Lee Bennett

At the webinar on Thursday 20 April, Lee will give an insight into the genetics and the UK field trials that have scoped their performance.

“We’ve also been investigating the use of companion crops, examining their effect on the performance of a range of RAGT winter wheat varieties,” he says.

“This will help growers looking to benefit from the additional £55/ha payment included in the new IPM standard of SFI.”

Martin Lines

Joining Lee on the panel for the webinar is Martin Lines, UK Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, who will highlight ways in which enhancing habitats to boost beneficial insects can bring business, as well as environmental benefits.

Neil Potts

Neil Potts, an independent agronomist in the south west of England, offers a practical perspective on insecticide-free wheat. And Norfolk grower Kit Papworth who’s grown BYDV-resistant RGT Wolverine, relays where he is on the journey to going insecticide-free.

Webinar attendees will get the opportunity to suggest activities and initiatives that will make the most of the move to insecticide-free wheat. “We’re keen to support on-farm trials that will help inform how the genetics are best utilised, for example,” says Lee.

Kit Papworth

“The ultimate aim is for the Genserus Circle of growers to be at the forefront of a farming system that’s in harmony with nature as well as profitable and rewarding for all involved.”

The Genserus Circle is a BOFIN initiative supported by RAGT Seeds. AHDB Recommended List Group 4 candidate RGT Grouse combines the Genserus BYDV-resistant trait with resistance to orange wheat blossom midge.

To register for the webinar on Thursday 20 April at 8:30am and join the Genserus Circle, click the button below.

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