Maximising your winter crops' potential with biostimulants

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We are seeing an increased interest from growers when it comes to the use of advance micro-nutrition and biostimulants as part of their integrated approach to pushing crop performance. Given where we are in the season, we thought it would be useful to give an overview of biostimulants and their role in crop production – specifically how and when to use them. We'll also explain our BioPlan service and how taking a sequenced approach to applications can support overall performance and sustainability.

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Spring blog series: Time to carry out your 'crop MOTs'

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At this stage of the season, there is a lot to think about and plan on farm.

Of course, the priorities from one farm to the next will always differ depending on location, rotation, soil conditions and overall crop production strategies. With that in mind, we're compiling a spring blog series that covers some of the key considerations and activities for this time of year – a group of posts to help you carry out some 'crop MOTs' if you will. This first blog focuses on spring nutrition for cereals and oilseed rape, but we'll be covering other crops and considerations in the coming days. To be notified each time a new blog is published, you can subscribe here.

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Frontrunner - 12th March 2021

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Earlier this week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. Speculative traders holding significant long positions in US grain futures were hoping for a helping hand to support their bullish view but were left disappointed.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by farm trader, Ollie Wilson.

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Potatoes without diquat: Keeping an eye on your nitrogen levels when using PPO inhibitors

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Since the loss of the desiccant diquat last February, growers have had to look at alternatives in their potato crop burn-down programmes. For many, this means a closer look at nitrogen applications is also needed.

Most growers have turned to PPO inhibitors as an alternative to diquat for desiccating their potato crops. However, as PPO inhibitors work differently to diquat, this has an impact on subsequent nitrogen rates.

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Stepping into a new season

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For those of you managing shoots or overseeing any sporting activity, I don't doubt that you will have had an array of challenges to contend with. With so much change it can be difficult to think about what's next, but there's still plenty to get off the ground as we look ahead to 2021/2022. As the industry embarks on a whole-farm approach to environmental land management, the ways that farmers are paid to manage the land is changing and 2021 marks the start of a new chapter for environmental policy. For farms with sporting interests, there are some considerable benefits to be seen and a lot of food for thought.

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Frontrunner - 5th March 2021

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World wheat markets have slipped this week. A lack of fresh bullish features has led to spells of profit taking from speculative buyers who still carry significant long positions in grain futures markets. US weekly wheat export shipments and sales were particularly disappointing. However, the weekly export pace from the EU was far more encouraging. Wheat shipments for last week were one million tonnes, taking the total now shipped to over 17.5 million tonnes.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Sophie Cath.

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Frontrunner - 26th February 2021

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The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) updated estimates for the current season's UK wheat balance sheet this week, highlighting a huge two-million-tonne cut in domestic wheat consumption. Demand in the human and industrial sectors is now seen at 6.438 million tonnes; almost half a million tonnes lower than last season.

This is primarily due to loss of demand for biofuel and starch following the closure of the Roquette plant in Corby in December. Miller demand is also lower as a result of the impact of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns. 

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. This week's report is read by key account manager, Zoe Andrew.

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Frontrunner - 19th February 2021

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A period of extreme cold has affected the primary US winter wheat producing states in recent days. Temperatures nearing record lows of between -15-20°c have been recorded as far south as Texas and concerns that wheat crops will be subject to winter kill has triggered volatile trading in Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures. Prices rallied to their highest since the end of January as the chief meteorologist of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggested crops in Texas and Oklahoma had been lost to the severe cold.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Nigel Dring.

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Frontrunner - 12th February 2021

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report on Tuesday this week, which many traders expected to present a very bullish picture for world grains, particularly corn.

Last week's record US corn sales to China coupled with adverse South American weather over the past month, which has impacted on corn production prospects for Argentina and Brazil, encouraged further buying. Prior to the publication of the WASDE report, these circumstances had taken US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn futures to new contract highs; the highest for 7.5 years.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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Economic and yield returns: The results of SOYL’s variable rate nitrogen trials in 2020

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At SOYL, we have been running an extensive precision farming research and development programme for nearly 30 years. The work is central to the value of our technology and services, and today we now possess one of the largest trial databases in the world. A significant part of this work involves trials to compare our variable rate application approach against flat rate applications.

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Frontrunner - 5th February 2021

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Last week's Frontrunner reported China making significant purchases of US corn. China bought over six million tonnes, which helped take total US weekly corn export sales to 7.44 million tonnes for the period up to the 28th January. This is a record high, doubling the previous weekly high set back in 2012.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that US 2020-21 exports will reach 64.77 million tonnes, which will leave US ending stocks nine million tonnes down on the year at 39.42 million tonnes.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Ollie WIlson.

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The Big Farmland Bird Count: A celebration of wildlife and conservation work on farm

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The Big Farmland Bird Count is an enjoyable and rewarding event in the agricultural calendar and 2021 sees it return for its eighth year.

The count, organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), will take place between 5th-14th February during which farmers and land managers are encouraged to spend time recording the number and species of birds they see on farm. Participants share their findings via the Big Farmland Bird Count website, with the results helping the GWCT to monitor wild bird populations and record the positive effect of conservation and supplementary feeding efforts on farms across the country.

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Frontrunner - 29th January 2021

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Early this week, world wheat futures markets continued to be pressured by speculative long holder selling. Losses extending from the contract highs reached last week have resulted in futures markets losing almost all the price gains they had made since the start of January. Losses for London wheat futures were almost £15/t. However, further political intervention that will disrupt grain flows partnered with soaring Chinese import demand helped generate a rally from the lows. This highlighted how market price volatility may be expected to continue.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Sophie Cath.

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How will variable rate nitrogen affect my sulphur applications?

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It's one of the first questions we face from growers when discussing variable rate nitrogen (VRN) and it's understandable given sulphur is one of the major nutrients required by plants. If optimum amounts aren't available, it will have a direct impact on end yield.

As it happens, in nearly all of these conversations our recommendation to growers is to apply sulphur variably alongside their nitrogen in order to achieve optimum yields and quality. Of course, as with all nutritional decisions, some forward planning is required.

With this in mind, we're going to address some common questions to help you plan for the spring and ensure you get the maximum benefits from variably applying sulphur.

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Timing, species and methods: Considerations if you're destroying your cover crop

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How we design and manage profitable, efficient crop rotations can be influenced by the use and management of available cover crop positions within them. When incorporated well, they can lead to the introduction of wider sustainable crop establishment systems, having the potential to gradually reduce some crop inputs and the overall cost of crop establishment.

If you have a good cover crop that has been successfully absorbing available nutrients, improving soil structure and supporting soil biota, you may be wondering what to do. First and foremost, careful thought and consideration is required when planning your next move. 

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Frontrunner - 22nd January 2021

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US wheat futures peaked last Friday, ending the 30% price rally that began last August. Futures markets had become technically overbought and were due a correction. US markets were closed for a public holiday on Monday but Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures subsequently posted four consecutive days of losses. London wheat futures peaked on Monday, setting a contract high price that hasn't been seen since January 2013 before following US markets lower during the week.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Lottie Bauer.

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Frontrunner - 15th January 2021

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Few World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) reports from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) trigger a market reaction such as the reaction triggered by the report released earlier this week. A report with such futures volatility following a period of prolonged market price gains hasn't been seen since 2012/13.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by key account manager, Zoe Andrew.

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Frontrunner - 8th January 2021

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World grain markets have started the new year with sharp gains, led higher by US soybean and corn futures. Prolonged dry weather and a rainfall deficit for developing corn and soybean crops across both Argentina and Brazil are raising concerns that yields will be adversely affected amidst strengthening export demand, particularly from China. Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn and wheat futures rallied to highs this week not seen since 2014 as speculative funds continued to buy and established record-long positions. Price gains for corn futures have reached 50% since the summer.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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'Farming is changing': The end of the BPS era

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With 2021 now underway, we are officially at the beginning of the end of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) era. The transition to the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme has started, and we're sure that many of you are wondering what this move is going to entail.

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Frontrunner - 18th December 2020

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Russia, the world's leading wheat exporter, officially confirmed it would introduce a €25/t export tax in the new year. The tax will be applied to its 17.5-million-tonne export quota, which begins on the 15th February and runs to the 30th June 2021. Traders are unlikely to exceed the quota in light of the news that tonnage which surpasses this figure will be taxed at 50% of the sales value.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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