Project Update: Bodwi Demonstration Site

The bulls have been performing exceptionally well this year at Bodwi, with some already slaughtered at 12 months old. They have achieved an average DLWG of 1.9kgs since weaning and are currently weighing an average of 613kg.



Weight (kg)

DLWG (kg)























Two fields, totalling 27 acres, of spring barley have been sown at Bodwi. The variety used is Laureate, which has performed consistently well on the AHDB recommended list since it was first listed in 2016. Immediately after ploughing, the fields were flat rolled to try and retain as much moisture as possible due to the dry conditions forecasted, and to ensure a fine firm seedbed was obtained. 150kg/acre of 15-15-15 was applied in the seedbed and will be top dressed further on in the season with a nitrogen-based product. pH indices indicated that lime was required. 200kg/acre of prilled lime was applied before drilling. 
The crop was sown with a combination drill on 9 April at a rate of 75kg/acre. 

Germination and establishment are remarkably well considering the dry conditions during April. On 28 April, the barley was looking well, although new leaves were looking pale and stressed, mainly due to the dry conditions restricting nutrient uptake. However, following rain, expectations are that the barley will take off in the coming weeks. 

The next challenge will be weed control and the first fungicide application. As of now, hardly any weeds have germinated. It is critical that weeds are taken out as soon as they appear in order to minimise competition and stress to the crop. The first fungicide application (T1) needs to be applied at growth stage 25-31 (late tillering). This is also the best time for rhynchosporium control, although brown rust, net blotch and mildew are also targets. About 40% of yield response to fungicides comes from this timing. Azoles, strobilurins, and SDHIs are used at this timing. The rates of these will vary depending on how high or low the disease pressure is leading up to the application. Due to the lack of good curative fungicides available now, it is absolutely critical that the prevention approach is prioritised rather than a firefighting approach. 

During the establishment of any crop, it is crucial all the limiting factors are considered, starting with a soil nutrient analysis and in particular, the pH. For example, you could select the best variety available but it will not perform if your fields’ nutrient levels are poor. The same applies if fields have perfect P and K indices but a poor pH - the P and K will not be available for the plant uptake. 

Remember, the results of anything and everything we do is all dependant on the accumulation of small gains, so we need to improve or address all the small factors first in order to be rewarded with any gain. And how little or great that gain is will depend on how well we address the small factors. 


The next steps at Bodwi; 

  • Work with agronomist, Gareth Mitchell, to maintain a healthy barley crop.
  • Continue to record the cost of production of the bull beef enterprise as they come to the end of their time on the farm.
  • Record and monitor costs associated with growing barley on-farm.