At college, we are taught that all crops develop (age) in response to temperature and daylength; then they grow by capturing light energy and water.
But this knowledge is not widely used in practice so, to help the industry understand crop performance in more detail, ‘Growth Guides’ were developed, led by ADAS, assisted by many partners and published by AHDB, & Pepsico for oats. These Guides are fundamental documents for YEN participants, because they provide a thought-map for enhancing crop yields.
In particular, YEN participants have focussed their attention specifically on enhancing water capture through better rooting, or light capture through extending canopy life.
From 2013, the YEN participants have held a series of discussion sessions and ‘Ideas Labs’ to develop ideas for enhancing either light or water capture, and therefore possibly enhance crop yields. In 2018 these ideas were all collected into a ‘YEN Ideas Treasury’ and arranged according to their target effects.
Then anyone with an interest in a particular idea for improving their yields joined with like-minded farmers, advisors or scientists to form Farm Innovation Groups (FIGs).
YEN explains crop performance as being driven by the availability and capture of light energy and water and, by reference to the Growth Guides. This understanding has raised a series of inter-linked questions, as shown below:
Since the first annual YEN Awards meeting in 2013, YEN participants have engaged in a series of discussions or ‘Ideas Labs’ where they proposed potential answers to their yield enhancing questions. These ideas are arranged in the diagram below, showing the intended way in which each treatment would enhance crop yield.
The YEN Yield Testing project in 2018 & 2019 tested some of these ideas.