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Late nitrogen management

If you read my recent blog, you'll be fully informed of how to check the nutrition status of your crop. Attention now turns to final nitrogen applications which will need to be as efficient as possible to make up for this seasons low levels of soil nitrogen.

Your crop requires as much support as possible right now and in this blog I'll be guiding you through the techniques you could implement to ensure this.

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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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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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Could maize be the answer for your 2024 rotation?

Throughout 2023, the weather played its part for many maize growers. Adverse conditions made the task of growing a successful crop interesting to say the least.

Maize sowing was delayed in many areas due to a very wet March and April. It was then followed by drought conditions into June where the heat set maize on its way to record harvest yields. July arrived and so did the rain - just in time for cereal harvest! It almost feels like it hasn't stopped raining since.

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Providing farmland birds a lifeline this winter

As we enter early January and temperatures begin to fall, foraging time for farmland birds is at its lowest and food sources start to run out. This period is often referred to as the 'hungry gap' and usually lasts from December through to April - the hardest time for many of our beloved wild bird species to survive.

As we enter this peak period for food requirements, your carefully managed wild bird seed plots will start looking thinner and a lot of the seed will have fallen to the ground and been eaten. The good news is that growers and land managers are increasingly taking up the option of supplementary feeding, either as part of an existing Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme, or simply because it's a great thing to do.

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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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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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Urea stewardship scheme - everything you need to know

DEFRA's consultation on reducing ammonia emissions from urea fertilisers closed in January 2021, but it wasn't until April of this year that the outcomes were clarified. 

Now that we can consider all the details, I've outlined some Q&As to offer more context to the new regulation and what it aims to cover.

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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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Nitrogen rates – what to think about this season

At this time of year, attention turns to upcoming activity on farm. First on the list will be early nitrogen applications, but before they happen it's important to consider what could impact them and any subsequent applications to ensure you make the most of your nitrogen fertiliser.

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Grassweed control into winter

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Following my blog about early grassweed control in August, at this time of year we're now moving towards the final application which is aimed at 'finishing off' the job by using propyzamide.

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Working with AB9 and spring-sown bird seed plots this season

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In a blog published earlier this week my colleague and senior Kings technical advisor, Meehal Grint shared some useful advice on ground and plot management for game cover and wild bird seed crops, as well as new difficulties brought on by the recent bird flu outbreak.

While out on visits to farms and estates, an area we've seen particular interest is the correct establishment of AB9s and similar alternatives.

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Managing your shoot: Planning ahead and navigating current challenges

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Last year, those of you overseeing sporting activity contended with many challenges due to Covid restrictions. While we're still feeling the effects of the pandemic, this year has seen another virus impact the industry - bird flu.

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Minimising nitrogen losses in your fertiliser programme

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Last year, I wrote a blog on how to increase nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) to improve your farm efficiency rating and part of this looked at the impact of nitrogen losses.Following on from this DEFRA recently announced a non-regulatory approach which outlines how to reduce ammonia emissions from any urea-based fertilisers.

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How to best manage your AB15: Two-year sown legume fallow

Countryside Stewardship schemes have always been part of the UK farming industry, but with the changes to Basic Payment Schemes (BPS), the future of farming is changing. A good Stewardship scheme can be an integral part of all farming businesses and is a great way to fill the gap that's caused by the losses in BPS.

When advising growers, I regularly discuss Countryside Stewardship options and how they can be integrated into the farm business. These conversations are with many types of growers who have farms of many different sizes, from large estates to smaller family run units.

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‘Work smarter, not harder’ by managing your environmental features digitally

This is a phrase we are all familiar with – in fact, in the past few years I've rarely gone more than two conferences or webinars without someone saying it, including me. However, now more than ever it resonates with me for our industry. Growers are increasingly having to become experts in several areas: not only are you crop production specialists but also environmental managers, accountants, HR advisors and many more things to boot.

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The Environmental Land Management scheme - What does the latest update tell us?

It's well understood that the turn of a new year often brings with it some updated farm policy. Evolving requirements, subsidy scheme adaptations and legislation are certainly nothing new.

This is the case again for 2022, only the changes ahead are some of the biggest our industry has seen. It's no understatement when we say there's a been a lot for farmers (and advisors) to digest in recent months and there are still some new policy elements to be clarified. 

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Undersowing maize – A demonstration event

Maize is an important crop on many farms across the country, from east to west and increasingly north to south. For those growing it, however, there are some issues which can arise from bare maize stubbles left over winter and it's important to mitigate them. If left, the land can become vulnerable to surface water runoff, soil erosion and nitrate leaching.

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Value of nitrogen: the importance of well-informed decisions

The word 'unprecedented' very accurately describes what has happened in the fertiliser world this year but even that doesn't seem enough to convey the exceptional rise in price and shortage of supply. In 25 years, I haven't seen anything like these price levels; to be honest I don't think I expected to see them in my working life and I still have a...

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Cutting your fuel costs with variable rate

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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