Can you beat the experts?

Crop profitability depends on maximising margins, rather than yield alone. Deciding on the optimum crop protection strategy in the spring requires judgement of the variety, its situation, and how yield affecting diseases can be controlled.

In spring 2020, we invite you to compete in the Wheat Fungicide Margin Challenge, pitting innovative strategies against one another, against ADAS experts’ programmes and against an untreated crop. This challenge will be taking place in Herefordshire, however, we are looking into setting up more at our other research sites. Let us know if you would be interested in a challenge at a research site near you!

Target: Achieve the highest margin over fungicide cost.

How does it work?

  • ADAS will select a variety (based on local popularity) and identify a suitable field.
  • All inputs except fungicides will follow standard farm practise and be applied by the grower.
  • Entrants will design a bespoke fungicide programme, which will be applied by ADAS.
  • ADAS will include three standard input strategies for comparison:
  1. untreated,
  2. ‘blockbuster’ very high input treatment to establish yield potential
  3. ADAS Experts’ entry
  • For statistical validity, each programme will be replicated on four separate plots randomly allocated to entrants within the field trial area.
  • All entrants will receive in-season updates on crop/disease progress via a WhatsApp group and can visit the field site at any time, upon consultation with ADAS.
  • Yield and disease levels will be monitored on all plots and statistically analysed.
  • All entrants will receive their own results (fungicide spend, disease levels and grain yield) with their ranking against all other entrants.
  • To encourage innovation without recrimination
    • Strategies will be shared, but entrants’ will not be revealed without permission.
    • No information will be revealed to the public without the entrant’s permission.


  1. Fungicide treatments must be sent in at least a week before each application so ADAS can check product availability. An entrant may be asked to provide any chemistry ADAS can’t or a comparable alternative may be used.
  2. When calculating the margins, a cost per fungicide application will be added to the cost of fungicides to reflect application costs (amount to be confirmed).
  3. The average grain price between 1 January 2020 and 30 September 2020 will be used to calculate the margin.


  • There will be a cost to enter this challenge. It is not run for profit but priced to cover the cost of sourcing chemicals, applying the fungicide treatments, assessing and harvesting the plots and analysing the data
  • The cost will be finalised once it is clear how many entrants there will be, as the cost per entrant depends on the size of the trial
  • Where possible, we work with commercial partners to sponsor farmer and agronomist entries to ensure on-farm innovators are encouraged to take part.

If you are interested in taking part, please contact Chloe Morgan.