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May 20, 2010: Expand your horizons with New Crop Opportunities

New Crop Opportunities, the electronic farm management aid, developed by the British Crop Production Council (BCPC) has expanded and now describes over 70 crops from amaranth to lupin and madder to yew as well as new uses for traditional crops like wheat, barley, oats, sugar beet and oilseed rape.

But what does it do and what benefits can it bring to crop consultants and farmers?

“Although there is a wealth of advice available to growers and advisers about growing alternative crops, sorting the facts from the fiction is complex and time consuming and that is why New Crop Opportunities is such a valuable resource,” says Chris Todd, managing director of BCPC.

“Gaining a balanced, unbiased perspective to help make the right decision to invest in any new crop has never been easy.

“But today, as most farmers have less thinking time because of fewer staff and the need to cope with burgeoning paper work, there’s no margin for error which makes any evaluation process more critical than ever,” says Mr Todd.

The comprehensive information provided for each crop details what the crop is grown for, its benefits and the markets.

For example, blueberries are grown for the food sector and health-food market and find outlets as fresh, canned, frozen, dried and liquid products. They have antioxidant properties, which are thought to slow the ageing process and reduce the risk of cancer. It then goes on to detail the main suppliers and buyers of the crop.

More importantly, it provides information on the crop’s agronomy, outlining where in the British Isles the crop will grow best. It highlights preferred soil pH, and soil texture, whether the crop is frost tolerant, what rainfall is required and the type of crop habit and growth – in fact all the essential information needed to grow a crop to its maximum yield potential.

Knowing where the crop grows best is only part of the equation.

Finding out how the seed bed needs to be prepared, how the crop needs to be sown or planted, what pests and diseases might be encountered during the growing season are all important considerations.

New Crop Opportunities details any constraints in the crops’ production as well as any specialised equipment that might be needed for storage and harvesting. It also advises on the ever important – expected yield.

Users can search to find the best alternative crops which could be grown in their particular geographic area. So if the crop is to be grown in the Midlands, and needs to be sown in March and harvested in August, if the soil is clay with a neutral pH, there is a frost risk and medium rainfall is expected, the search delivers seven alternative crop solutions: barley, canary seed, foxglove, nettle, oats, peas and wheat. The advantage of being able to specify sowing and harvest dates ensures that the new crop’s sowing and harvest do not clash with periods of high workload of existing crops and enterprises on the farm.

Many of the crops featured also include a dynamic financial model providing an indication of the likely returns. Relevant news items on the fast moving world of new crop products are regularly updated on the site by an experienced agronomist and are also linked into the relevant crop section so users can see at a glance what issues are affecting that particular crop sector.

Subscriptions start at UK£9.95 + VAT for 24 hour access and UK£75 + VAT for an annual subscription this includes regular updates and email alerts about new crop information.

 

More information:

Mr Chris Todd
BCPC
7 Omni Business Centre
Omega Park
Alton, Hampshire GU34 2QD
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1420 593 200
Email: md@bcpc.org