Aviator Xpro case study - Warren Darling, South Canterbury

“Bayer provided our entire seed treatment, weed and disease control program – including its newly launched fungicide Aviator Xpro,” Warren says.

South Canterbury arable farmers Warren and Joy Darling have been growing barley – and other crops – for more than 30 years on their property, Poplar Grove, just south of Timaru.

The Darlings have put the lessons they’ve learned over the years to good effect on the crops grown on their 450ha farm.

All that experience led to them to setting a new world record for barley last season with a yield of 13.8t/ha from the Blackman Agriculture bred variety 776. The Darlings yield of 13.8t/ha easily broke the previous record of 12.2 tonnes – held by Scottish grower Gordon Rennie of Stockton Park since 1989.

This year the Darlings harvested a total of 130ha of barley. They also grew between 100 and 150 ha each of wheat and oilseed rape – along with the barley – on their coastal South Canterbury property. Their wheat yields averaged at 12.5t/ha; barley 11.5t/ha and oil seed rape at 6.2t/ha.

Warren believes South Canterbury’s weather played a big part in their barley world record success – providing the conditions for the crop's preparation, grain filling and harvesting to set the backdrop for a record attempt.

Their coastal property,  a couple of  kilometres south of Timaru, received  a lot of winter rain to carry them through to spring and they avoided high temperatures in summer for grain filling and plenty of sunshine for harvesting.

He says the world record was definitely a team effort – “with the input from Bayer through using products like Aviator Xpro and the technical advice from David Weith playing an important part of the process,” Warren adds.

Warren also believes a switch to a reduced tillage system, five years ago, laid the foundations for last summer’s success. From there it’s been a case of getting a good season, with the right variety grown to maximise yield potential and minimise yield loss to pests and diseases.

The latter was helped by using innovative crop protection products from Bayer Crop Science.

Bayer provided our entire seed treatment, weed and disease control program – including its newly launched fungicide Aviator Xpro

Other Bayer products included the seed treatment Raxil and the herbicides Firebird and Hussar.

Using these products, along with the in-field expertise from our Timaru-based Bayer territory manager David Weith, played a major role in helping us achieve the world record.

“Many factors determine the success of a great crop like this – soil, climate, technologically advanced farming machinery – as well as farm inputs like the seed variety, nutrients and crop protection solutions.”

The Aviator Xpro was applied to the barley at early flag leaf stage and again when the crop was at full awn. For the wheat it was put on earlier – at the leaf 3 stage.

Warren says with Aviator Xpro’s combination of two complimentary fungicides, prothioconazole (DMI) and bixafen (SDHI); it gives great control of Septoria tritici in wheat and Ramularia leaf spot in barley.

For the season ahead, Warren says thing are sitting on a “knife edge” – with some good rains needed soon.

All our crops were drilled in April and May, but I am unsure how things will pan out at this stage. It will depend on the season as to what our biggest disease threat may be – but a dry season will change our approach.

While the Darlings may not set any world records in the 2015-16 harvest; they will be looking to continue their success in growing great crops and staving off any disease threats by using innovative crop protection products like Aviator Xpro.