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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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Specialist and environmental crop mixes: The importance of quality seed

When it comes to specialist mixes and crops designed to deliver specific benefits to the environment and wider farm or estate, making sure you're using high quality seed is paramount. If not, you could be looking at some unwelcome issues, increased time and effort spent managing your crops, poor performance overall and even putting the wider rotation or environment at risk.

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Early nutrition strategies for winter cereals: challenges and solutions

The recent wet and mild conditions have brought early crop nutrition into sharp focus and you may be looking to address some of the negative impacts on any autumn-drilled cereal crops.

During autumn 2023, most of the UK experienced significantly above average rainfall and this depleted soils of any residual nitrogen. There's also no doubt that rooting was compromised due to waterlogging. 

This blog is a combination of insights and guidance for crop nutrition, variable rate technology and biostimulants – all of which can play an important role in your spring strategy to boost biomass and maximise profit margins. If you follow some of the below guidance, any lacklustre crops should stand the best chance of turning things around in time.

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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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What's all this talk about winter cover crops?

Some of you will be familiar with the use of winter cover crops and may drill them already, but for those of you still with bare land or contemplating them for the first time, there is still an opportunity to bring them into the rotation. With the recent hotter temperatures helping many areas to retain warm soils, conditions are favourable for drilling too, meaning cover could soon be bringing a host of benefits to your farm.

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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 benefits of cover crops – much more than just soil health

Cover cropping has become a common practice within arable rotations and as spoken about in previous blogs, this is due to the many benefits they can bring to soils. Given the current volatile fertiliser market, however, today there is much more interest in their ability to capture nutrients, particularly nitrogen. We mustn't forget the range of habitat they also provide for various insects and wildlife.

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The benefits of cover crop destruction within ELMs

February - the month for late snowfall, frosts and in some areas welcome rainfall. Wherever you are in the UK, there will be different challenges as the days lengthen. Some of those challenges are 'the office jobs' you thought you had plenty of time for but now you have more daylight, there is the temptation to shelve those tasks and get on the field. Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) application windows also open around this time, adding even greater temptation to park those jobs.

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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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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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Maximise crop production with home-grown and manufactured nutrition

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There are good reasons to introduce home-grown nutrients into your nutrition plan. For one, if enough nutrient can be grown and captured, there is potential to increase business margins. However, the two benefits of most interest are: the degree of protection it can offer from a volatile fertiliser market and the potential to reduce carbon emissions on farm through a reduction in applied fertiliser.

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How can we bridge the forage gap?


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"When one door closes, another opens" - a statement we know all too well in farming. With harvest drawing to a close, efforts are now turning to sowing for the season ahead. It is great to see heaps piled high of dry grain, however, the extreme temperatures and lack of moisture have meant that livestock feed sources have struggled. On my travels around the country visiting farmers, it is clear to see how much damage has been done.

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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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Getting control of weeds in oilseed rape

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Oilseed rape weed management has evolved over the last 10 years, mainly due to the challenge of establishing the crop with certainty and the introduction of more effective post-emergence broad-leaved weed herbicides. Before this development in chemistry there was a lack of flexibility - crops had to be treated early and all that was left was to hope for the best.

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The use of catch and cover crops

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Today, there's more emphasis on sustainable, environmentally friendly crop production systems. As a result, cover and catch crops are becoming a widely understood and embraced method for aiding soil health.

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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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Clubroot – mitigating a growing problem

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Oilseed rape crops have been through a tough time due to the threat posed by cabbage stem flea beetle. In addition, the crop has also faced some very challenging establishment periods. In response growers have adapted how they establish oilseed rape and many have now resorted to drilling the crop throughout a bigger window than what has been done in the past. There's now also a greater emphasis on drilling crops when the conditions are right, rather than just going by calendar date.

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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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