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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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How we supported this year's gold medal YEN winner, Tim Lamyman

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This week we were delighted to hear that one of our customers, Tim Lamyman, has scooped both a silver and gold medal in this year's Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) competition. Congratulations, Tim!

The 2019/20 cropping season was one that none of us will forget in a hurry, with one of the wettest autumns and winters in recent history. This was followed in quick succession by a drought and low levels of incoming solar radiation during the key grain filling period. 

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Using grain protein to plan your nitrogen rates

Frontier nitrogen

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

Fertiliser spread

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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Getting the best from your summer-sown cover crops

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As a result of the dreadful winter weather, many headlands, fields and even blocks of land were unfortunately not fit enough for spring combinable crop planting. Growers were therefore faced with two options: leave the area bare and unplanted, or plant an economical green cover crop to harvest sunlight and convert that energy into valuable biomass for the soil.

Many growers opted for the latter and, as you look around the countryside there is now a wealth of summer fallow crops on display, with the likes of sunflowers and oil radish putting on quite the show.

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Companion crops: supporting OSR establishment

OSR landscape

While the place of oilseed rape as a commercial break crop has been unchallenged for many years, increased pressure from cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) in many regions – coupled with other variables such as soil type, previous cropping considerations, moisture availability and variety choice – has meant that the successful establishment of the crop requires some important planning.

Fortunately though, for those considering oilseed rape in next year's rotation, there could be quite an innovative 'tool' available within the establishment 'workshop'.

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Grassweed series: Stubble management for grassweed control

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Last month we published the first in our series of blogs on grassweed management, looking specifically at black-grass, its characteristics and the strategies to take pre-harvest. You can read the blog here.

As with management before harvest, efforts to control grassweeds are crucial post-harvest too. Cultivation strategies during this time can have a significant impact on the overall grassweed burden for the following crop, but it is important to understand the biology of the individual species in order to use cultural options to the best effect. 

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Reviving grassland

Grassland

There are many reasons to sow new grass leys, but none more prominent than having some in poor condition following the wettest winter on record and one of the hardest spring droughts.

The recent rainfall will help things but it cannot reverse the damage that's already been done. Unfortunately, many leys have lost key elements, allowing weed grasses such as annual meadow grass, rough stalked meadow grass and couch grass to populate the thinner areas. 

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

Flooded-soil

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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Potatoes - Meeting nutrition demands

Potato nutrition demand

Potatoes are not unique in this respect, but virtually all of their macro-nutrients applications are made before the crop is planted and well before the peak uptake of nutrients that happens 60-75 days after emergence. This, coupled with the plant's naturally poor inherent ability for rooting, means that efficient uptake of nutrients is always challenging.

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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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Pre-harvest grain store management

CROP-PRODUCTION-STORAGE

The ability to store grain can be a fundamental aspect of a crop marketing strategy, providing growers with the opportunity to sell for later movement.

Of course, this can only be successful when effective grain storage facilities and management plans are in place, as these are pivotal for safeguarding premiums and grain quality to lessen the risk of rejections and claims.

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Give maize crops the best chance

maize

With maize establishing well across the country now, attention is turning to the management of the crop during the crucial early stages.

The crop itself originated in sub-tropical regions, so it is a plant which loves conditions that tend to be warmer than the average UK spring. As a result, it is not uncommon for maize to show nutrient deficiencies, or for its growth to slow if temperatures are relatively cool.

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Grassweed series: Black-grass management pre-harvest

Black-grass

Black-grass is major problem on many UK farms and it is now widely accepted that fully integrated solutions to manage the weed are fundamental to achieving any kind of success. Ultimately, most approaches are aimed at limiting seed return in order to reduce the overall population pressure.

In this blog, I discuss a number of management options that should be considered pre-harvest to reduce seed return and which should form part of an overall, long term plan to eradicate the weed.

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Milling wheat - final decisions

wheat-view

As I write this, glancing out of the window to look at blue skies over dry soil, it's all too easy to forget the extremely wet autumn and winter we all endured. Clearly, this posed a massive challenge for establishing autumn crops and has led to one of the smallest winter wheat areas we've seen for decades. 

It did, though, also cause large amounts of mobile nutrients like nitrogen and sulphur to be leached out of the soil, meaning we started spring growth with very low levels naturally available. Indeed...

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Carbon Farming: Part Three

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​In our last two carbon management blogs, we've been talking about the role agriculture plays in annual carbon emissions and the ways in which growers can reduce their environmental impact through natural capital management. 

Now, while many farmers are choosing to take progressive steps towards carbon management, the law also obligates conventional farmers with over 15 acres of land to create Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs)...

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Carbon Farming: Part Two

soil-carbon

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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Carbon Farming: Part One

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Carbon farming is a 21st-century buzzword and the pressure is on for modern farmers to take account of their carbon footprint. However, this drive to 'go green' can seem at odds with the commercial objectives of a profitable farm.

Yet, none of us can escape the inevitable changes ahead. The government has committed to the goal of a carbon-neutral UK by 2050. This is an increase from the 80% reduction in greenhouse gases that was agreed to in the Climate Change Act of 2008.

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The value of a sound crop protection program

winter-wheat

​Over the past decade, we have seen many new fungicide actives tested and have also lost many others from the store as they are revoked.​

As growers start to look closely at fungicide programs for their winter wheat crops, it is interesting to look into the yield trends generated in Frontier's 3D Thinking trials to see where the contribution to overall yield will come from during the growing season.

The 3D Thinking program has always studied fungicides, their effect on yield and how to maximise the value gained from them.

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Ramularia leaf spot in barley – life after chlorothalonil

barley

Ramularia causes leaf spot symptoms in barley. While it has typically been more of an issue in the north of the UK, it is now being reported with increasing frequency further south. The disease has historically been a bigger issue in spring barley but the economic losses in winter barley are now an increasing problem too.

The disease has a complicated life cycle and is seed, air and trash-borne. The fungus, Ramularia collo-cygni, causes ramularia and grows from infected seed. It then moves systemically within new plant growth. Airborne spores produced on trash and crop debris can also infect plants.

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