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The power of mapping to assess nutrient management

I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce myself to those who don't know me, I'm Richard Markham and I am a senior technical sales consultant for Frontier's precision farming business, SOYL. I have worked in the team for 19 years and support many farmers across the UK to gain a better understanding of their farms' performance, right down to what's going on in their soils.

Working with growers to better understand their baseline can aid future management decisions that deliver yield, quality and profit margins, but ultimately, measuring and monitoring soil health, nutrient status and overall field performance can support more informed decisions about how best to manage land in the most appropriate ways. This is particularly important during a time where farms are being encouraged more than ever to adopt a range of environmentally focused actions, while still maintaining sustainable food production systems. 

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Managing your soils this season

There are a number of topics this blog could cover: the weather, inputs, grain prices, environmental options… the list goes on. But, as we make our way through this spring, I think it's worth acknowledging the continuously changing agricultural landscape and some of the routes for navigating it. I think we'd all agree that in our industry it often feels different from one day to the next, with new opportunities and challenges abound all while we're simultaneously trying to digest the latest updates.

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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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Data-based drilling – How can data support continued gains in crop performance?

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Much has already been said about the weather that we've experienced in recent months and even with some rain predicted, it is likely to be a challenging drilling season for many. For me, the weather highlights the importance of being able to understand your soils and use that information to make changes to your strategy. Whether it is the creation of the best seedbed in difficult circumstances, or the adjustment of your seed rates to attempt to counteract the conditions, often even small changes can make a big difference.

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Environmental Land Management blog series: 3/ Taking environmental management digital

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This blog is the third and final to be published as part of our Environmental Land Management blog series. In the previous blog, we looked at what you will need to do if you decide to enter your land into the arable and horticultural soils standard of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). You can read it here.

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Environmental Land Management blog series: 2/ Drawing a line in the sand and building a baseline of your soils

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This blog is the second to be published as part of our Environmental Land Management blog series. Our first entry covered some of the common questions we get from growers about the Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) specifically, as well as opportunities linked to Countryside Stewardship. You can read it here.

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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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Use your grain sampling data to plan the next cropping year

To be frank, a sample bag of grain doesn't really tend to excite many of us. Why would it? It's just a sample, it's minute in comparison to the hard graft that's come before it. But then – if we really think about it – doesn't that make it quite a significant thing?

That bag of grain represents at least a year of hard work; significant investments, the challenges you've overcome and the opportunities you've taken. When you consider the efforts that have gone into creating that bag of grain you realise that, if we are to be completely honest, it all comes down to that bag. The fact is that it isn't just grain in there. It's information, data, learnings, it's proof of things that worked well and sometimes things that didn't.

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Enhancing farm efficiency with variable rate nitrogen – What do the latest trials results tell us?

The start of a new year is often when most of us traditionally think back to what has happened over the past 12 months before looking ahead at those to come.

Before Christmas, we published this news release announcing some exciting digital investments that have upgraded our variable rate nitrogen service for 2022. One of the most significant developments is the adoption of radar technology, meaning users can now access cloud-free imagery.

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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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Variable rate seed: The ability to adapt

As I begin to think about variable rate seed, I can't help getting out of my head that for the past year there has been a lot of talk of change and adapting within agriculture. The more I thought about it, I concluded (probably later than many others) that agriculture has always been a case of adapting whether it be to new products, new machinery, new guidance or the ever-changing weather.

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Getting direction from your maps

​As we head into another harvest, it's important to get your bearings and plan your route ahead for the next and following cropping years. The concept of 'mapping your future' isn't new to everyone, but it has grown in significance following recent announcements about the Environment Land Management (ELM) scheme and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). In fact, specific 'standards' or 'land management actions' have been highlighted as a key part of the SFI and monitoring activity and results is central to the scheme.

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Understand your farm's profitability with margin maps

With an increased focus on farm finances, I am finding that there is a greater drive from our customers to combine some of the data routinely collected through precision farming to get a better insight into farm profitability.

Our margin map tool uses yield data and simple costs to produce financial performance maps that not only provide a field average, but also show the spatial variation in profitability. By including yield data and costs for multiple years, you can easily analyse financial performance across your whole rotation instead of just year by year.

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Are you making the most of biomass imagery?

Unlike some of the advances in precision farming, biomass imagery doesn't require specialist or expensive equipment. In fact all that's really needed is a computer and a desire to discover some information that could be of value to your farm business.

Surprisingly, however, there are a number of farmers who are not fully utilising biomass imagery and its benefits – but why the reluctance?

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Carbon Farming: Part Two

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

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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Can you benefit from bare land?

​Although the sun is out (as I write this anyway) I recognise that many areas of land are still plenty wet enough, and getting jobs done is tricky enough without getting covered in mud as soon as you hit a waterlogged bit of ground. That said, the upside is that many growers will be reviewing cropping plans on almost a weekly basis to ensure they are reflective of current conditions. 

With potentially 50% of the UK winter wheat crop sown there remains, subject to your area, a significant proportion of land yet to be planted. Spring crop opportunities remain unpredictable so, if some bare land is looking a likely scenario for the farm on which you work, you may want to think about the opportunities associated with it.

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What value can MySOYL bring to your farm business?

In my role as MySOYL Business Lead, I regularly talk to customers who are looking to find new technology to make their farms more efficient and profitable. In these conversations, one of the most common questions I get asked is "What is MySOYL and how can it help me?" For those of you wondering the same, I thought I'd use this blog to answer this q...

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What is MyFarm?

​While some of our customers are already familiar with our farm management platform, MyFarm, a recent upgrade has led to some exciting developments to its applications and overall functionality. Free to all Frontier customers, the latest version has been designed as a result of farmer-feedback. The platform now provides a one-stop shop to manage ev...

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Creating your own seed rate trials using MySOYL

 Choosing the seed rate is a crucial decision that every grower has to make before drilling, but how can you ensure you're using the optimum rate for your field? As well as the usual calculation, SOYL's MySOYL application – available as part of Frontier's MyFarm farm management platform - can help you to conduct specific trials to gain a bette...

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