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A trial of one-pass oilseed rape establishment, utilising GPS and variable rate seed maps, is taking place at Frontier's Midlands demonstration site, Riseholme. The site is part of the University of Lincoln's campus.

Frontier has worked with colleagues from SOYL precision farming and manufacturers, Stocks AG and RDS Technology, to carry out the trial - the first of its kind in the UK. If successful, the principle and system will offer potential benefits to farmers who already use a one-pass system for oilseed rape cultivation.

The practice of combination seeding using a subsoiler or a min-till cultivator has become widespread among oilseed rape growers in the last few years. Farmers often choose this method because it saves time and labour, as well as promoting better drainage and moisture retention.

However, for those using this type of equipment, applying that seed variably, with GPS technology and PC generated treatment maps has been out of the question, until now.

Simon Parrington, Commercial Director for SOYL, explains: "We had feedback from our customers asking if our SOYLseed maps could be used in conjunction with a cultivator mounted oilseed rape seeder, but there was nothing available on the market. We thought that something could be developed, so we made contact with Stocks Ag and RDS to discuss the possibility of creating the system that was eventually used to drill rape at Riseholme this summer."

RDS provided a GPS receiver and PSi instrument to replace its Wizard unit, which is normally fitted to Stocks AG seeders. The system was bench tested by Stocks AG and SOYL before being fitted to the Turbo Jet at Riseholme.

The oilseed rape was drilled on 17th August 2011 using a 4.6m Simba SLD cultivator mounted with the Stocks Turbo Jet and controlled by the PSi instrument. GPS was connected to the PSi and maps were loaded via the integral SD card reader.  Treatment maps were created by SOYL and based on a target seed population of 40 plants/m2 using seed rates of 3.1, 3.5 and 3.9 kg/ha to coincide with the different soil textures in the field.

SOYL has also embedded 'learning zones' within the seeding maps for the fields. These will allow visitors to easily compare the results of using a number of different seed rates across a relatively small area. The learning zone also has a time lapse camera set up to record growth.

Mr Parrington concludes: "I'm pleased to say that so far this collaborative project is showing every sign of being successful, the rape has emerged extremely well and is developing strongly. If the trial continues at the same rate, I am sure we will see greater utilisation of variable rate technology by our growers. We have our first Riseholme farmer Field Day of the season in November, and we expect these plots to be of great interest to many of the farmers attending."

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