Important updates and advice regarding coronavirus (Covid-19)

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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Welcome dry weather but implications for liquid fertiliser

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The recent dry weather has been incredibly welcome and has finally allowed drills, sprayers and fertiliser spreaders to roll across the country. But, dare I ask, how long will it be before we're looking for some fresh rain?!

There is clearly a massive variation in growth stage and condition of the autumn crops across the country, but the more forward crops have started to get hold of applied nitrogen and actually look quite good .At the other extreme, some of the most backward crops are not that far ahead of the spring cereals that are now going in the ground. As long as reasonable seedbeds can be achieved and drilling doesn't get delayed, the potential for these spring crops should be good. 

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What are the nutrition implications following the autumn/winter rainfall?

Flooded-soil

Well, it won't be surprising to learn that many soils will have lost nitrogen via leaching.

To demonstrate the impact, AHDB has produced a map to show the winter rainfall classification. This forms part of the RB209 book method for producing a Soil Nitrogen Supply (SNS) index and is a good starting point as you begin to look at your nitrogen programme for this spring. 

However, rather than rely solely on this information, our team at Frontier decided to carry out the measurement of Soil Mineral Nitrogen (kg N/ha) at a number of nationwide trial sites. The findings are outlined in the below table.

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Maize seed dressings uncovered

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The relentless wet weather is likely to mean that more growers will be growing maize this season; either for the first time, or for the first time in a long time. Maize is a crop that needs careful management and seed treatments are an important part of that management that have seen some significant changes.

Most maize growers will be aware of the challenges we now face with the loss of the active ingredient methiocarb; best known as the seed treatment Mesurol. This seed treatment has for years provided class leading bird repellence, particularly against rook damage and other corvids, to the extent that some will have forgotten quite how damaging these pests can be. 

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Take extra care with field operations this spring

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The rain we've experienced over the last year has left many areas very wet and soil more vulnerable to damage. A planned and careful approach to spring operations could minimise soil damage and even start remediation in some cases.

Many soils will not have adequately dried out and compaction is accentuated by tyres that are too hard and high axle weight. Every effort must be made to use the lowest appropriate tyre pressures for each field operation and to minimise total axle weights, if necessary by carrying part loads of seed and fertiliser to the field. Only radial tyres should be used, cross ply tyres and particularly the super single tyre, found on heavy goods vehicles with tyre pressures of 70 plus psi, should never be used on arable land.

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Polysulphate fertilisers could give pulse growers a spring boost

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Sulphur is a key component of successful crop production; as important as nitrogen when it comes to planning nutrient applications. A multi-nutrient sulphate fertiliser range from ICL called Polysulphate is one that we've recently introduced to our range and is something I am talking about to many of the growers I advise.

Two new Polysulphate products, PKpluS and PotashpluS are especially of topical interest to the increasing number of farmers considering spring pulses on the back of dismal autumn weather. 

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Do you have a phosphorus problem?

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In the UK, we don't have a domestic supply of artificial phosphorous fertiliser and so are therefore reliant on imported sources of nutrient phosphorus. Part of this means that we often experience some volatility in pricing, usually influenced by fluctuations in currency, available volume, country of origin and – more recently – political developme...
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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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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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Maximizing grassland production

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Much of the grass in Herefordshire, where I am based, suffered during the difficult weather conditions of 2018 and consequently producers should focus on optimising nutrition to restore both quality and yield potential to former levels, with K and S being essential in this process. This season NKS fertilisers containing potash and sulphur alongside...
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OSR - The final nutrition decision

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It has been somewhat of a harrowing year for the OSR crop, with wide spread establishment issues followed by flea beetle larval damage leading to a number of crops unfortunately being ripped up.The remaining crops have gone on to endure some late frosts during flowering but, thanks to recent rainfall and warm weather, the good crops are now coming ...
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Surprise Easter weather increases risk of losses on liquid fertiliser

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The rise in temperatures forecast this weekend beckons the prospect of one of the warmest Easters on record. While many people's thoughts will turn to firing up the barbecue or joining a queue of traffic heading for the nearest beach, arable farmers will earmark the time to get out and on with spring land work. Generally dry conditions have allowed...
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The Variable Rate Seed myth

OSR-drilling
We introduced variable rate seed over 15 years ago and the benefits, including that of a yield increase of 4.2% over flat rate drilling, are well documented . However, every now and then I come across individuals who think that doing variable rate seed avoids the need for variable rate applications of nitrogen. This is a myth. Where did the myth co...
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Managing lodging risk in cereals this spring

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Lodging is described by Berry, 1998 as "The permanent displacement of plant stems from the vertical" which "occurs on average once every four years in UK wheat crops, when it reduces the yield and bread-making quality of grain." Fischer and Stapper, 1987 also report that "Lodging can reduce yields from 7 – 35%, with the greatest yield reductions oc...
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The impact of flea beetle larvae

OSR
​ As if the adult population of cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) wasn't problematic enough last autumn when large areas of oilseed rape were written off, crops are now struggling again as they come out of winter. CSFB larvae are present in high numbers on both heavily grazed crops and even those which appeared to grow away from the pest last year. I...
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What is the best phosphate product?

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The use of phosphate fertilisers has always caused more confusion than other nutrients.Choice of fertiliser to give the best long and short term availability is often a topic we are asked by growers. Different forms of phosphate (such as orthophosphate or dicalcium phosphate) and the complex relationship that phosphate has with calcium, iron and pH...
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SOYL: a year in review

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Happy New Year from the SOYL team; I can't quite believe that 12 months have passed since I last wrote a blog reviewing the year but here we are. Our mission to help growers Make Every Hectare Count stepped up its pace in 2018 – SOYL advised, helped and supported more farmer customers than ever before. A year punctuated by events 2018 started with ...
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New Year's resolutions

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This blog was first featured as an article in the December issue of Three Counties Farmer : ​ By my own admission, I don't have the best track record of sticking to New Year's resolutions. Whilst they are (in theory) usually easy to achieve, they aren't necessarily life changing and it would be a fairly safe bet to say that, by April, I'll have bro...
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Foliar feed timings seen to increase maize yields

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For some people maize is perhaps seen as a somewhat less worthy crop when it comes to allocating management time and resources. Getting it in, being conservative with inputs and taking whatever yield comes along at harvest is often the order of the day. I think if more growers knew what could be achieved by pushing maize harder, they might take a d...
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Beans to replace a failed WOSR crop?

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In numerous counties, the effects of the long, hot summer and the onslaught of cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) on oilseed rape crops are still being felt. Crops that were sown in early-August have established well on the whole and were large enough to withstand the gnawing mouthparts of the adult flea beetle. However, crops sown in mid to late Augu...
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