Accepting EFA changes... and embracing them!

The latest Ecological Focus Area (EFA) changes announced for 2018 have caused much speculation among my colleagues and growers too. In particular, people have been very animated about the loss of crop protection products within EFAs, with some seeing it as reducing the value of EFA options on farm. Meanwhile, DEFRA termed this as a complete BAN whi...
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From 'must have' iPhones... to 'must have' wheats

Listening to the news this week about the launch of the iPhone 10 (or iPhone X as it's going to be known) and the eye watering price at which this new device has been listed, made me think about the annual new wheat variety launch we see in the UK. I have no doubt that iPhone X will already have a sell out order book as people rush to have the late...
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Variable rate drilling to reach field potential

With harvest winding up and drilling beginning it seems timely to share how I use a number of precision tools to create the 'Rolls Royce' of drilling plans - using variable rate seed to give each field the capacity to reach its full potential. For a long time farmers have 'manually' adjusted seed rates in poorer performing areas of the field on an ...
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Water use on farm and new Red Tractor standards

New standards for Red Tractor will be launched on the 1st October 2017. The standards bring a few key changes to the way growers record and manage water use for irrigation. The changes aren't particularly significant and are being introduced to further improve the way we manage use of water on our land. They do, however, have the potential to catch...
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P and K management for high-yielding crops

Recently, I drew up a number of medium term nutrient strategies for clients. This inspired me to put down some of my thoughts around this topic in writing. Across the SOYL client base growers who maintain a robust and thorough approach to phosphate (P) and potassium (K) applications are those who consistently achieve high yields. I sometimes h...
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Avadex - part of a pre-em herbicide stack to fight black-grass

When it comes to managing 'difficult' grass weeds in cereal crops there is no silver bullet. What's required is a long-term plan that encompasses a range of measures which can be adapted to accommodate local conditions and seasonal variations. Herbicide programmes remain an essential element of black-grass control. With the decline in activity of p...
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Conditions looking good for early sown OSR... and weeds

With soils generally moist and temperatures typically around 14-16oC, conditions are looking good for early sown OSR. However, inevitably this means conditions are also good for weed growth and we're already seeing flushes of black-grass emerging in young crops as seen in this emerging rape crop near Colchester earlier this week. Timing is everythi...
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Hedgerows and woodland - Get ahead, get a plan

The annual period during which landowners are prevented from cutting hedges under cross-compliance recently came to an end. With this important annual restriction in place to protect wildlife from 1 st March until 31 st August, it's tempting to set about hedge cutting in earnest come September. However, there are very good reasons to be selective w...
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Thoughts on the new RB209

I run the Applications Team at SOYL and we provide P, K, Mg, Lime, Nitrogen and Seed recommendations for over 1 million UK arable hectares. The agronomy models that we use are based on SOYL's 24 years of crop nutrition experience alongside the industry nutrition guide - the RB209. We have been waiting for the updated version of the new RB209 since ...
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Sugar beet choices for 2018

It's that time of year when growers are turning to the BBRO Recommended List (RL) to make selections for the season ahead. It's natural to be drawn to the varieties that have delivered impressive yields. That's important but there are other important considerations to heed – such as how early you will be drilling and how prone the variety is to bol...
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Mid-Tier - five minutes to change your mind

Given my role, you will not be surprised to learn that I am almost fanatical about getting land managers and farmers to take a look at Countryside Stewardship and particularly Mid Tier agreements. Oh no, I hear you groan! But give me five minutes and I will change your mind... It can't hurt to take a look, can it? I know from my conversations, both...
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Innovation... It's never done

It's been a busy time for SOYL's development team. These are the people who are the nucleus from which all of our precision innovations, used on farms up and down the country, are hatched. There's certainly no shortage of ideas from the team or interest and demand for their work right now. Just last week we've had Farmers Weekly reporting on our Cu...
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Accessing nutrient maps in MySOYL

You don't know what you don't know! It's easy for us to assume that, since we provide support, training and tutorials, our customers understand how to use the tools we build, but while we use these tools every day, our customers often only use them seasonally. How many of us have thought "I know I did it last time but I can't remember how!"? So thi...
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Why should I use yield maps?

Between the showers, combines are rolling across the country with the purpose of gathering the result of a year's work. At the same time, many are gathering important information in the form of yield maps, but are you using your data to its full potential? The more years of yield data you have, the more valuable that data is, but it's never too lat...
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Review of the European Conference on Precision Agriculture

As the head of SOYL's technical and R&D department, one of my responsibilities is to look at the latest developments in precision agriculture research and keep an eye on the 'next big thing' for customers. To find out more about what's happening in the industry and to share more about SOYL's own work, some colleagues and I went to Edinburgh ear...
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What should I do with straw this harvest?

 As SOYL's technical manager, I'm responsible for our crop nutrition strategy and at this time of year, many clients and colleagues ask me the same question: should I remove my straw and sell it? Dealing with straw on the farm can be complicated. For some, it's a valuable soil management tool or a source of income and for others, just a proble...
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2017 European Conference on Precision Agriculture

Next week, members of the SOYL team will attend the 2017 European Conference on Precision Agriculture (ECPA) in Edinburgh. SOYL are regulars at the event, having attended since 1997 when it was last held in the UK, at Warwick and we're delighted to be supporting this year's conference as a silver sponsor. What is the ECPA? The ECPA is a three day e...
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The UK's most popular field names

I visited a new client earlier this week and as we were recording his details, the second field on his list was named 'Barn Field'. He noted that we probably have a lot of fields on our system by that name, which got me thinking about the names I've come across in the past. Over 200,000 fields in our database provide some unique insights to help in...
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Summer training events

In response to feedback from customers and to complement our popular annual Winter Workshop campaign, SOYL is offering summer training events for the first time this year. Distinctly different to the winter events, the summer training is a programme of practical, hands-on sessions with a much smaller group of growers, with 15-20 typically attending...
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Welcome to the SOYL blog

At SOYL, we share our expertise in many ways: farmer group meetings, on farm client meetings, newsletters, annual training workshops and regular technical bulletins. The new blog is another useful method for those interested in precision crop production to find out about the latest news and keep up to date with what's happening in the field.  ...
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