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Economic and yield returns: The results of SOYL’s variable rate nitrogen trials in 2020

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At SOYL, we have been running an extensive precision farming research and development programme for nearly 30 years. The work is central to the value of our technology and services, and today we now possess one of the largest trial databases in the world. A significant part of this work involves trials to compare our variable rate application approach against flat rate applications.

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How will variable rate nitrogen affect my sulphur applications?

Variable rate nitrogen

It's one of the first questions we face from growers when discussing variable rate nitrogen (VRN) and it's understandable given sulphur is one of the major nutrients required by plants. If optimum amounts aren't available, it will have a direct impact on end yield.

As it happens, in nearly all of these conversations our recommendation to growers is to apply sulphur variably alongside their nitrogen in order to achieve optimum yields and quality. Of course, as with all nutritional decisions, some forward planning is required.

With this in mind, we're going to address some common questions to help you plan for the spring and ensure you get the maximum benefits from variably applying sulphur.

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Optimising nitrogen inputs: measuring residual N with satellite imagery

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I'll admit that at first sight filling your tractor with oil and planning your nitrogen applications don't appear to have much in common but in one simple way they are very similar. Before you do both, you need to know how much you've already got in the tank or in the soil, so you know exactly how much more you need to put in.

When it comes to nitrogen applications, rates should only be decided once you have fully assessed the requirements of your crops. As well as thinking about inputs, this also means making an informed judgement on how much nitrogen will be supplied by your soils.

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Using grain protein to plan your nitrogen rates

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The nitrogen inputs to your crops can be one of the most important factors that influence crop output and, ultimately, the profitability of your business. There is a wealth of tools and information to help guide you when it comes to applying the optimum rate of nitrogen, but how do you know if you are actually getting it right and making the best use of these applications to maximise your financial return?

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P and K blog series: The important considerations for post-harvest applications

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The stark variation across the country has continued into harvest this year, with some areas completed a couple of weeks ago while others are struggling to make real headway as a result of the wet weather. Where completed, the SOYL applications team has been busy processing fertiliser recommendations ready for post-harvest P and K applications - allowing new season orders to be booked. 

For many growers though, doing this raises the question: What considerations should be made when planning P and K management?

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Understand your farm's profitability with margin maps

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With an increased focus on farm finances, I am finding that there is a greater drive from our customers to combine some of the data routinely collected through precision farming to get a better insight into farm profitability.

Our margin map tool uses yield data and simple costs to produce financial performance maps that not only provide a field average, but also show the spatial variation in profitability. By including yield data and costs for multiple years, you can easily analyse financial performance across your whole rotation instead of just year by year.

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P and K blog series: Managing levels after extreme weather events

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We've certainly seen Mother Nature go from one extreme to the next in recent months. Given the incredibly dry April and May experienced this spring, it is difficult to comprehend that February was actually the wettest on record. Let us not forget that this also followed the consistently above-average rainfall throughout autumn and winter too.

However, a generally kind March and early April allowed for some substantial spring cropping. While somewhat of a forced change for many, this - coupled with the extremes in weather - has significantly impacted the nutrition requirements for this and potentially next year's crops.

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P and K blog series: The building blocks of overall plant health

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Phosphorus and potassium are vital for photosynthesis and water regulation – but how much of them do you need to guarantee healthy plants?

Precision technology can play an important role when it comes to successful nutrient management. With P and K in particular, there is a considerable benefit to carrying out nutrient mapping and variable rate applications of fertiliser in that you are able to individually deal with field areas that are both below, at and above the critical level. 

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Are you making the most of biomass imagery?

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Unlike some of the advances in precision farming, biomass imagery doesn't require specialist or expensive equipment. In fact all that's really needed is a computer and a desire to discover some information that could be of value to your farm business.

Surprisingly, however, there are a number of farmers who are not fully utilising biomass imagery and its benefits – but why the reluctance?

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Carbon Farming: Part Two

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This is part two in our carbon management blog series. To read part one, click here.

Farmers are in a unique position of having great power to implement carbon sequestration measures. Carbon sequestration is the technical term for carbon capture. Carbon can be captured in the oceans, in natural rock formations, and in the earth. As an industry that deals heavily in soil management, agriculture is in a unique position for optimising on carbon sequestration opportunities.

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Cutting your fuel costs with variable rate

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I'm sure farmers across the UK breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday, as it was confirmed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the tax break on red diesel would remain in place for the agricultural industry.

Over the past week, farmers have been steeling themselves for a potential 50% rise in fuel costs following reports that the tax relief was going to be scrapped altogether as part of the 2020 Budget. While the news is a positive outcome for the industry the Chancellor has, however, announced that other sectors will be stripped of the tax exemption in two years' time. 

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'Precision conservation'

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'Precision conservation' is a relatively new phrase within our collective businesses and, as such, it is right to ask the question: What does it actually refer to?

For most, 'precision' and 'conservation' are two words not immediately associated with one another. In an agricultural context, 'conservation' can have us thinking wistfully of tussocky field corners and snaking wildflower margins. Of course, when you really think about it, the location of these features is never by accident. Some planning is always involved and that's when the link between the two words becomes clearer.

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If you only attend one event this winter...

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Over the last 12 years, more than 10,000 customers have attended our annual series of winter events. While we've always covered the latest innovations in precision farming, this year I'm thrilled to say that we'll be sharing some of our most varied and forward-thinking content to date.

From November through to February, we're travelling the breadth of the UK to talk all things digital crop production as part of a series of half-day events. As with previous years, we'll be sharing the latest in precision technology including our research, industry developments and the latest updates to our own tools and applications. However, in a first we'll also be sharing the floor with colleagues from Frontier Agriculture and Kings Crops

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What value can MySOYL bring to your farm business?

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In my role as MySOYL Business Lead, I regularly talk to customers who are looking to find new technology to make their farms more efficient and profitable. In these conversations, one of the most common questions I get asked is " What is MySOYL and how can it help me ?" For those of you wondering the same, I thought I'd use this blog to answer this...
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Next time you log into MySOYL...

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I was recently speaking to a SOYL customer on the phone as he logged back into MySOYL for the first time in a few months. As I talked him through the steps, he hesitated when he got to the main dashboard after logging in. "What do all these other buttons do?" he queried. ​ He was referring to some of the other applications available alongside MySOY...
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Creating your own seed rate trials using MySOYL

Create your own seed rate
  Choosing the seed rate is a crucial decision that every grower has to make before drilling, but how can you ensure you're using the optimum rate for your field? As well as the usual calculation, SOYL's MySOYL application – available as part of Frontier's MyFarm farm management platform - can help you to conduct specific trials to gain a bett...
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Lime application plans in under a minute

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Whilst the combines have been rolling, I have been speaking to an increasing number of customers and advisers who are looking to prepare for 2020 harvest crops. A common topic often covered is liming policy and the challenges associated with planning and prioritising applications. We have previously posted about the benefits of correcting soil pH a...
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Get a better view of your farm

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Using satellites to get a different perspective of your farm really can open up a wealth of opportunities. Of course, we all know that satellite imagery isn't a new thing – people have been using it to take images of crops since 1995. However, the accuracy, resolution, frequency and our overall understanding of the technology has drastically improv...
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Removing straw: calculating the cost of replacing lost nutrients

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Last harvest, the prolonged hot weather greatly affected grass growth across the UK and caused a shortage of silage for many livestock farmers. To help meet demand, the majority of growers were baling their straw after harvest but, as explained in my blog at the time , this led to many questions about the impact on nutrient off take.  This yea...
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Meet the team at various events this year

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In my role, I often get asked which events we'll be attending and where customers can catch up with us over the coming months. Our local SOYL colleagues regularly attend and host events up and down the country, sharing expertise and helping customers to make the most of every hectare. Events are a key element of our agricultural calendar and someth...
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