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Soil: your farm's greatest asset

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This blog was first featured as an article in the October issue of Three Counties Farmer : Every conversation I have with people in the agricultural world seems to conclude with the opinion that "When it rains, it won't know when to stop." A common term used, especially in the autumn period when focus turns to potato harvest, autumn cereal drilling...
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The value of fresh phosphate fertiliser

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​ For the most part, many of us will admit that when it comes to fertiliser applications we can be guilty of concentrating solely on the application of nitrogen. The most common questions often revolve around the correct nitrogen rates and predicted yield responses but, in all honesty, it isn't all we should be thinking about. As an industry, when ...
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Hold your nerve – don’t drill fields with bad black-grass until mid-October

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The drilling of cereals is progressing at pace in many parts of the UK, with the majority of crops going into good seedbeds. However, there are some areas that could do with a decent night's rain and, more importantly, those who have fields with a black-grass problem should actually be prepared to wait. Managing black-grass It is now well accepted ...
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Think like a racing driver when selling your grain

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This blog was first featured as an article in the October issue of Three Counties Farmer : There are few jobs that could be classed as 24/7, 365 days a year but farming is one of them. For those who sell their combinable crops, the grain market is ever changing and the global markets also sit within this 'open all hours' bracket. We often draw para...
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Will reduced availability of certified bean seed present a market opportunity?

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While we have all enjoyed the long, hot summer of 2018 it has many things to answer for including the failure of a large percentage of potential certified winter bean seed due to poor germination.   Seed shortage likely to fuel bean market As a result of this shortage of seed it is possible that fewer fields will be sown with beans this season...
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Catch crops: don’t get caught out

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Catch crops, sown in the summer, can be used very effectively as part of an Ecological Focus Area (EFA) greening requirement. These crops offer potential benefits to soil and rotation management beyond the financial rewards of EFA. However, it's important to comply with EFA criteria around management dates. Catch crops that were established by the ...
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What to do now as we approach the beet lifting season?

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Crop differences Planting of the 2018 beet crop was delayed by wet soils, with most crops going into the ground in April. Ironically, what happened next was then dependent on whether or not the seedbed had sufficient moisture for establishment. Some crops had good levels of moisture and warmth to set a good plant stand and grow away quickly to cove...
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The value of straw

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This blog was first featured as an article in the September issue of Three Counties Farmer With the frailties of an uncertain future post-Brexit combined with severe weather conditions across the UK, farmers are being brought even closer together to combat the difficulties we now face. The NFU called for arable farmers to bale all of their straw th...
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Don’t lose sight of tuber blight management in the run-up to harvest of stored maincrops

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2018 has thrown a range of challenges at potato growers and agronomists, such that blight control has increasingly taken a back seat as the season has progressed. It will be no surprise to anyone that data now shows that soil moisture has been widely yield-limiting due to the unusually high rates of evapotranspiration, even where irrigation was clo...
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What’s the impact of removing straw?

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While rain has now fallen in most regions, the recent hot weather has significantly impacted grass growth meaning, unfortunately, many dairy farmers will be heading into the winter with a shortage of silage. As has been well publicised over recent weeks, many farmers are baling their straw to help their colleagues with cattle. But what impact does ...
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​Control with Clearfield technology

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With some long overdue rain finally dampening seed beds in the past week, oilseed rape drilling is now well underway for many parts of the UK.However, for some of us the fields are already playing host to thousands of OSR plants, well before we've even set to work putting next year's crop in the ground. These early occupants haven't come from the d...
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Potato desiccation decisions

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As is the case with most opening lines of conversation at the moment, I'm starting this blog with talk of the unprecedented weather we've had. The summer of 2018 will certainly be one to remember, with exceptionally dry conditions hampering the growing season. Across the UK, farmers and growers have been under significant pressure to manage irrigat...
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What would Dragons' Den make of agriculture?

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This blog was first featured as an article in the August issue of Three Counties Farmer Since beginning these monthly columns back in March, I think we've experienced almost every weather condition Mother Nature could throw at us. At times I've written this while watching the snow settle ever deeper and the winds get bitterly cold. I've witnessed w...
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Not everyone likes it hot

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This blog was first featured as an article in the August issue of Three Counties Farmer In the Three Counties we experienced an extremely dry run up to harvest, which quickly turned our crops and accelerated their final stages. However, compare these UK extremes to the likes of Australia and it quickly put things into perspective. They have suffere...
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Are you thinking about companion crops?

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​ Well, harvest is flying! Crops are in the barn much earlier than usual which gives us more time to think about how best to tackle oilseed rape establishment. However, that's not all there is to start planning. Some growers are using this extra time to contemplate companion crops and how they can help bring benefits to their farm.  Companion ...
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Weathering the weather

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Cultivation and drilling strategy for 2018/19 Weather, a subject always of interest to farmers, seems more topical than ever. Today's 'drought summit' sees NFU president, Minette Batters meeting Whitehall officials amid fears that the heatwave could have a serious affect on food production. The implications of drought are wide ranging for agricultu...
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OSR: The importance of early nutrition

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As we progress through harvest and get into August, one of the next jobs for many will be thinking about drilling oilseed rape. Establishing OSR can be a real challenge and that concern will likely be even greater following the remarkably prolonged hot and dry weather spell we've been experiencing across the UK. Good, rapid establishment is the key...
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Trial new wheat varieties before making commitment

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  This blog was first featured as an article in the July issue of Three Counties Farmer For many arable farmers, July is always a month of preparation and anticipation. The latter is particularly true for harvest and involves waiting for oilseed rape and barley to be fit enough to cut, calculating yields and quality, cleaning out grain sheds, ...
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Be inspired for fresh start in post-harvest

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This blog was first featured as an article in the July issue of Three Counties Farmer Once again, I write this during yet another change in the weather. The cold, wet spring has now given way to some very warm days, some intermittent and heavy downpours and a late growing season which has delivered some amazing growth to both spring and winter sown...
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Pulse crops – what should you do now?

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It has not been an easy year to get any crops drilled in the traditional spring-sowing window of February-March. The winter rainfall and then the 'Beast from the East' all conspired to mean that no drilling took place until the second week of April in the majority of the country. After that, many growers wanted to get their barley crops drilled fir...
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