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Crop nutrition considerations for maize

Earlier this year, we published a blog about the benefits of growing maize in your 2024 rotation and how the crop can deliver a gross margin equal to a first wheat. We mentioned the positive market opportunities for home-grown maize and the Sustainable Farming Incentive actions that could be incorporated with the crop.

In light of the challenging weather we've faced this winter and early spring, maize could be a great alternative cropping option. Whilst maize can be a very successful crop, it will need looking after just like any cereal crop. In this blog, we'll be highlighting what you can do nutrition-wise to ensure your maize crop receives the boost it needs early on to perform well further down the line. 

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Crop nutrition check – preparing for year ahead

Following on from a previous blog about early nutrition strategies, unfortunately due to continued wet weather there has been limited opportunity to complete many field applications. For some, this has been very 'stop/start'. For others, it's been absolutely impossible to get out in the field.

Many of you will be looking for guidance on how to manage the impacts this is having on farm. Let's look at some pointers on how to keep an eye on crop nutrient health as we enter into a period of peak applications and big biomass growth.

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REMINDER: The new urea application rules for England are almost here

Many of you will be aware of the urea stewardship scheme due to come into force in England from 1st April 2024, however, for some there are still questions as to what the new regulations include.

Back in May 2023 when an early announcement was released about the rules, I outlined everything you needed to know. In this blog, I think some of that information is worthy of a recap, particularly why Defra is focused on the stewardship of urea fertilisers, as well as a reminder of what you need to do in certain scenarios to stay compliant with the regulations. 

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Learnings from sugar beet fungicide and biostimulant trials

Last year I shared some advice in this blog about managing sugar beet to optimise yield, and in it I contemplated what kind of results the autumn was going to bring given some of the widespread late planting we saw.

Now that we're well into 2024, it was great to see the majority of sugar beet crops doing well throughout the tail end of last year. However, for many crops harvest was delayed until January 2024 due to the wet autumn and frosts in early December. 

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Variable rate nitrogen trials results

As the season has been so challenging, it's great to be able to demonstrate the positive results from our variable rate nitrogen (VRN) trials which can make a difference on farm. In this blog, we'll be talking through the benefits and value of this technology, as well as how the findings from the trials can be replicated on your farm to achieve the same positive results.

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Looking back to LAMMA: The benefits of a closed transfer system

Last month, I had the privilege of talking about Frontier's closed transfer system (CTS) at LAMMA as part of the event's Live Theatre sessions. I was thrilled to be able to bring this innovative piece of technology to the show, highlighting the benefits it's already bringing many farmers and sprayer operators at a time when on-farm safety, product stewardship and sustainable farming are extremely important.

While at the event, I had great conversations with visitors about the equipment – many of whom had questions about the technology as well as the practicalities of adopting it on farm. I thought it'd be great to reflect on these discussions here and explain why the closed transfer system is proving such a valuable solution for many growers.

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The Recommended List: New wheat varieties will broaden options for 2024

Five new varieties of winter wheat have been added to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Recommended List for 2024. These new arrivals offer valuable alternatives for planting next autumn and bring some much-needed diversity to the feed wheat sector, breathing fresh life into the tired looking Group 1 bread-making and Group 3 biscuit markets.

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Considerations for late drilling in wet conditions

During the recent visit from Storm Babet, exceptional levels of rainfall fell in a short period and saturated a lot of land in many parts of the UK. The concern now – particularly with more rain on the way – is the interruption caused to drilling progress, with some fields already destined for spring cropping. Crops drilled more recently have also been affected by waterlogging and significant runoff, which causes ruts and the loss of seed.

If you've found you're experiencing some of these issues in the aftermath of such severe rainfall, you're probably wondering what the best course of action is. Depending on your situation, there are a few options that could still mean you're able to get a crop in the ground and off to a good start. 

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Using pre-emergence herbicides in wet conditions

The current wet conditions mean slow progress for cereal drilling, with some areas of the UK more severely affected than others. Naturally, such delays are having a subsequent impact on pre-emergence herbicide plans and timings.

The wet weather may mean you're unable to travel on fields, or that your seedbeds cannot receive a herbicide treatment. Even if you can get crops in the ground, imminent rain reduces the chance of applying pre-emergence herbicides within 48 hours of drilling - the optimum timing for grassweed control. 

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The future of oat weed control

This autumn, oat growers across the UK face new crop management considerations following the news that the pre-emergence herbicide, Liberator (flufenacet + diflufenican), can no longer be used on the crop.

The change comes after oats were newly categorised as a 'major crop' by the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD), meaning all Extensions of Authorisation for Minor Uses (EAMUs) have now been revoked. This leaves growers with no residual herbicide options apart from Sempra XL, though this can only be used on oat crops which are being grown for seed.

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Minimise the impact of CSFB by getting oilseed rape off to the best start

Despite recent challenges, oilseed rape (OSR) remains a profitable break crop which can also aid grassweed control in your rotation. Of course, success is dependent on good establishment, which in turn relies on strong attention to detail.

Although recent weather patterns may have presented some difficulties for other combinable crops during the harvest period, there is a silver lining in that the increased soil moisture will aid seedbed preparation and drilling. 

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The importance of grain store management

This year we've seen an elevated amount of storage challenges across the industry, a problem faced by both farmers and professional stores alike.

The extreme weather conditions last harvest meant that most crops went into stores without needing to be dried, with some farmers combining crops at night in a bid to avoid the intense heat and elevate moisture content.

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Pre-harvest crop management: desiccation methods

As harvest gets closer, attention is no doubt turning to pre-harvest management of crops. In particular, desiccation using glyphosate is one of the key considerations at this time. Some of you may have already completed desiccation on certain crops but for those who are yet to start, there are considerations to bear in mind.

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Grass and forage - where quality really counts

Choosing a grass reseeding mix can be tricky. Even so, the phrase "No, surely its simple" is one I often hear, as well as assumptions that "one field of green is the same as the next." However, with the quality and diversity of work carried out by plant breeders over the last 70 years or so, each field really is different in terms of output.

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Bare land – do you know what to do with yours?

There's no doubt that the start of the 2023 growing season was challenging across the country, with the wettest March in 40 years being followed by the wettest start to April in the last five. As we headed into May, ambient temperatures were still slow to rise, so I think many would agree that conditions were less than ideal this spring.

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The future of Scottish agriculture payments

In Scotland, many of us have been watching the developments in government policy and funding south of the border with interest, wondering when we may begin to see similar progress. Our patience was rewarded three weeks ago when the Scottish Government released its much anticipated Agricultural Reform Route Map which outlined how farmers would receive financial support from the Government going forward.

So, what do we now know and how might it affect you and your business?

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Inspiring production: Growing cereals and oilseed crops for world record yields

Lincolnshire farmer, Tim Lamyman is synonymous with growing record combinable crop yields, so much so that he's now outdone his previous successes.

Following Tim's achievements in 2021, we were thrilled to learn of his recent accolades, having achieved a new world record for winter wheat with a staggering 17.96t/ha and specific weight of 83.6kg/hl with the DSV variety Champion.

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Celebrate 10 years of the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count and get involved

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust's (GWCT) Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC). As the founder of this initiative, I am overwhelmingly pleased to see it is still going strong and that so many of you are continuing to take part.

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Field grain analysis results

As we've mentioned before, the only real way to measure the effect of nitrogen is at the end of the season when we have the opportunity to analyse grain on an individual-field basis. From this, the findings can highlight the specific adjustments needed for the following season.

Frontier and SOYL Precision's field grain analysis service gives interpretation over all the essential nutrients to make sure you as a grower get the most from your data. In this blog, I'll focus on the nitrogen analysis results from this year's sampling.

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Considerations for the establishment of spring crops

Good establishment of spring crops is critical for optimising yield and getting them off to the best start also provides well-known cultural grassweed control benefits. Spring may seem a long way off but with some growers opting to drill spring wheat and barley in late autumn or early winter, considering everything from seed rates, weed control, soil management, nutrition, pests and disease will stand crops in good stead for the season.

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