Making Every Hectare Count Blog


Welcome to the ‘Making Every Hectare Count’, SOYL’s blog. Here, members of SOYL’s expert team share regular posts to keep you up to date with the latest precision news, including new products and services, events, trials data, precision tasks currently underway out in the field and answers to common and interesting queries from growers.

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26th September 2017


Compatibility with John Deere Greenstar equipment

The John Deere Greenstar family of products has always been one of the most popular used by SOYL clients to carry out variable rate applications.  There have been four models of Greenstar, all of which are capable of making variable rate applications with SOYL application maps.

In this blog we look at current compatibility and delve into a bit of history!

The brown box eraJohn Deere terminal

The first John Deere terminal we worked with at SOYL was the original Greenstar, often referred to as “the brown box”.  We first sent SOYL application maps to this terminal in 2003.

Back then, application maps were made in our own precision agronomy software and then imported into Farmade (now Farmplan) GateKeeper. This was the only software at the time that could be used to write data to the original Greenstar.   We had a special Gatekeeper license which at one time had well over 300 clients set up within it so we could look after our clients working with John Deere equipment.

Data cards for the original brown box were in ‘PCMCIA’ (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) format measuring roughly 8.5cm by 5.5cm. This is huge by today’s standards!  Remarkably, even today, we still have a small number of customers using the original Greenstar for their variable rate applications.

Greenstar 2600Greenstar 2600

The next Greenstar terminal was GS2 – 2600 which used the smaller compact flash cards. Again, variable rate (VR) maps had to be loaded via Gatekeeper.

The Greenstar 2600 was a true game-changer in the field of agricultural electronics combining robustness, functionality and a lovely large colour screen.

In late 2010, a version of the Greenstar 2600 was launched that could import shape file application maps directly into the terminal.  This saved the processing step through Gatekeeper and allowed for more efficient in field operations.  At the time we provided special documentation to help customers use shape file application maps with the 2600 unit.

Greenstar 2630Greenstar 2630

Shape file compatibility continued with the GS3 (2630) period. This came with an integrated convertor, allowing easier transfer of variable rate plans.

The 2630 was launched as an ISOBUS ‘VT’ – Virtual Terminal – for use with a list of ISOBUS compatible implements. (ISOBUS is the universal protocol for electronic communication between implements, tractors and computers).  It was still possible to connect Serial (RS232) controllers using the ‘Field Doc’ cable accessory.  This enabled connection to many existing and compatible spreader, sprayer and drill controllers.

Now

Greenstar GS4

The latest Greenstar terminal is the GS4 (Gen 4, 4600) which is a fully functioning ISOBUS Virtual Terminal and follows the trend where certain levels of functionality are purchased as additional software licenses.  GS4 does not work through traditional RS232 connectivity yet is compatible with SOYL maps but only if correctly licensed and connected to an ISOBUS compatible implement.  The GS4 provides a customisable and flexible experience for operators and an extensive range of features. 

Greenstar terminals were, and continue to be, a key part of the UK’s precision farming success story.  For a huge number of farmers Greenstar was their first use of GPS paving the way for many to take up and gain value from variable rate fertiliser and seed.

Simon Parrington

 

 

 

Simon Parrington

SOYL commercial director 

 

For specific advice for your business related to this blog or any other aspect of precision crop production get in touch with SOYL.


19th September 2017


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 ad hoc basis. The introduction of variable rate seed techniques has applied precision science to refine this process. Since developing variable rate seed in 2004, SOYL has recorded thousands of plant counts related to soil types so that, after conducting soil surveys, we can create a successful drilling plan based on a typical autumn establishment.

When creating a new drilling plan at this time of year I approach it practically, considering all aspects that will affect how the crops I help manage will establish. I use a web-based tool, MySOYL to plan the right number of seeds for the right place, using multiple layers of data which will get the most out of crops.

Seed rate is the first thing to consider, variable rate or not, and this decision is fixed. The target seed rate is dependent on timing, seed bed conditions and variety agronomics. All of these should be appropriate to give the crop the capacity to achieve the optimum population required.

Variable rate then helps me actually get to that optimum population across the whole field by considering layers of different data related to physical and biological factors.

The establishment layer controls what gets planted where. Establishment is simply the percentage of seed planted that will result in a viable plant. Here MySOYL helps me to use all the farm information to manage variation and create and compare different establishment rate scenarios.

Being able to consider and compare different establishment rate scenarios is one of the key benefits of using variable rate seed within MySOYL. Seasons and weather vary from year to year and require a different approach to get the best results.

I might use a lower establishment rate scenario for a wet autumn when seed beds are less favourable, or higher establishments in a really kind autumn when soil conditions are good. Meanwhile, spring drilling needs a different plan because establishment ranges narrow in the kinder spring weather. Different crops might want different establishments too.

The beauty of making variable rate plans using new technology is that I can change seed plans at the click of a button to make all of these adjustments.

I can also add layers of data to help manage pest and weed pressure, using local knowledge to create bespoke plans. Information from the field recorded during previous seasons using the iSOYLscout app can easily be incorporated into drilling plans regardless of whether I, the farmer, or the agronomist recorded the observations. These might be areas of slug damage or poor establishment of previous crops. All will help me create a better drilling plan.

Once happy with my plans, it is seamless to transfer the final drilling plan to SOYL's variable rate app iSOYL on an iPad or to download application files for the relevant GPS controller ready to drill the seed.

With variable rate plans created and drilling underway, I get a real buzz from knowing that our plan is using technology to draw on many layers of surveyed data combined with our local knowledge of the fields. This gives a field the capacity to achieve its full potential. If weather, pest, disease and other conditions are kind to us, we can look forward to superb results in the season ahead.

Peter Croot

Regional manager, SOYL


14th September 2017


P and K management for high yielding crops

Recently I have drawn 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 hear some advice from elsewhere that devalues the contribution of P and K, partly I expect because you don’t get the visible impact that can be seen from nitrogen.

My approach to robust P and K planning is based on 3 key questions:

1.        What is the physical and chemical status of the soil through soil type and nutrient data?
2.       What are the nutrient needs of my crops across the rotation?
3.       What sources of nutrient are available locally?

This blog will focus on question 2.

What are the nutrient needs of my crops across the rotation?

In order to design an appropriate nutrient strategy it is essential to look the P and K needs of each crop.  We can then match different products to suit the total needs across the rotation.

Yield, straw removal and crop choice will all affect crop nutrient offtake and peak uptake. 

Ten tonnes of wheat will remove 78kg of phosphate and 56kg of potash from the land. If straw is removed as well, these levels rise to 84kg and 104kg respectively. Producing a balance sheet of removals and inputs in fertilisers and organic manures throughout the rotation will provide a useful tool when calculating the following year’s nutrition needs.

NEW free rotational PK Calculator

To help growers and advisors understand the nutrient needs of a rotation we have developed a freely available online tool that allows growers and advisors to calculate the P and K requirements of a rotation of up to 7 years in length.  You can find this free tool here - https://www.soyl.com/services/calculators-intro/pkoc.

The general target indices of mid index 2 - I prefer to work using a PPM (Parts Per Million) measurement of nutrients in the soil or a decimal index as it is more accurate but let’s keep things simple for this article - for both phosphate and potash should provide adequate nutrients to support the following crop, but these can be eroded if removals are not replaced.

Of the fields sampled by SOYL last year, 24% had areas that were deficient in phosphorous and 26% deficient in potassium. This presents an unnecessary risk to crop health and subsequent yield, but it is simple to address.

A simple rotation example

Table 1 shows how this might be calculated for a typical winter wheat/spring barley/winter OSR rotation, taking into account existing nutrient decisions:

·         DAP applied at 165kg/ha to give 30kg/ha N and 76kg/ha of the all important fresh phosphate to encourage rooting in front of the OSR
·         FYM at 15t/ha that provides 29kg/ha P and 108kg/ha K for the winter wheat
·         CF Fertilisers’ KayNitro Sulphur at 320kg/ha giving 80kg/ha N for the first dose plus 42kg/ha of fresh K ready for the spring barley’s peak growth period.

Table 1:

PK table 1

Implementing this plan gives the highest margin crop, winter wheat, the benefit of fresh in-season variable rate P and K. The spring barley and oilseed rape each receive one variable rate application to balance rotational needs, while using FYM as part of the solution reduces the reliance on bagged P and K and boosts organic matter levels.  All of this is achieved with just four variable rate applications over three years.

In my next blog I will look at the same principle and the impact it can have on magnesium and soil pH management.

Please have a look at the new calculator, it’s FREE - https://www.soyl.com/services/calculators-intro/pkoc - and let me know how you get on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For specific advice for your business related to this blog or any other aspect of precision crop production get in touch with SOYL.

Simon Parrington

 

 

 

Simon Parrington

SOYL commercial director 

 


11th September 2017


Thoughts on the new RB209RB209 v2

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 it was announced several years ago. When it finally landed on our desks a few weeks ago it was quite an interesting read with some new advice that merits discussion.  

Following several conversations with growers and agronomists I thought it would be worth discussing the key changes that impact crop nutrition decision making.

Something which really struck all of us in the team was the number of changes in nutrient content for the different types of muck. It certainly backed up the need for proper nutrient analysis on farm when organic manures are being used.

P content in sludge

One change that particularly stood out was the reduction in available P from sewage sludge/biosolids. Previous versions of the RB209 suggested that a standard application of sludge (approx 22t/ha) would apply 198kg P2O5 - more than enough for 2 years cropping. However, more recent analysis and new RB209 figures suggest the same rate only supplies 121kg/ha P2O5. This is a significant reduction, which would struggle to cover two years’ requirement on anything lower than index 2.

Table 2.16

Anaerobic digestate

It was also pleasing, from a SOYL perspective, to see figures added for the different types of Anaerobic Digestate (AD) available to farmers.  The figures show that where your AD derives from and what the AD plants ‘food’ is will clearly impact nutrient content.  Again, this backs up the need for actual analysis of nutrient content in these applications.

Table 2.18 and 2.19

As the number of AD plants continues to rise in the UK, the hectarage of wholecrop being grown to supply them has also increased dramatically. To see figures for this added to the new RB209 was pleasing. However, when we sat down to look at these we found that wholecrop figures were virtually the same as the grain and straw offtake figures for a standard yielding crop. We have contacted AHDB for clarification as we feel there has to be some difference in the offtake due to the earlier harvest date.

Table 3.27

The inclusion, and prominence, of sulphur within the new document was clear for all crops. Considering it is such a vital macro nutrient it seems incredible to me that roughly 50% of cereals and 30% of OSR still receive no sulphur fertiliser.  Large areas of the UK are at risk of Sulphur deficiency and with such small amounts being deposited by the atmosphere (approx 7kg SO3) it is vital to get a sulphur application on during the spring. Without sulphur, where the risk of deficiency is high, yield will be reduced; nitrogen will not be fully utilised and grain quality will be reduced.

Table 4.13

One area where I felt a lot of work had been focused was the simplification of recommendations in section 3: Grassland. Previous RB209 versions have made making grass recommendations for most people confusing. The new RB209 has changed the way fertiliser requirements are calculated with a general move to reflect the intensity of grass production on the farm, rather than the system it is for. This change can only be beneficial to the industry as a whole.

There were some other smaller changes worth noting as well:

  • Change in the tonnes of lime required to raise pH on organic soils
  • Slight changes in offtake figures for selected crops
  • New crops added to reflect diversification of crops grown in the UK: sunflowers, baby leaf lettuces, rocket and herbs.

Overall, the changes made to the new RB209 will probably not significantly alter the phosphate and potash usage on UK arable farms, but I hope it does prompt farmers and advisors to review their current strategy to make sure it is in line with this new advice.  

Get in touch with SOYL and one of the team will get back to you.

Gavin Campbell

Applications team leader


30th August 2017


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 Custom Applications module and we released the latest MySOYL upgrade late last week too.

This upgrade brings growers more tools and features to make managing their precision tasks simple and efficient.

The seed application module has been developed to make variable rate seed applications even more straightforward. Highlights are:
•    A quick, logical layout to creating a task
•    Ability to view fields on the map with their establishments as you pick them
•    Mix establishment scenarios* in the same task
•    Base your calculations on a fixed total amount of seed
•    Produce PDF maps and a seed summary of your task.

*Establishment scenarios are different establishment percentages for different purposes; for example you may have a different set for winter/spring crops or wet/dry years reflecting seed bed quality.

innovation blog 1


The new establishment editor allows users to:
•    Edit and create establishment scenarios on multiple fields at a time
•    Use multiple layers including soil, yield and weed pressure
•    Tools to edit geometry and establishment rates
•    A buffer tool for headland management
•    Automatically inclusion of scouted areas from the iSOYLscout app.

innovation blog 2 

But no sooner is one new tool or update released than the SOYL development team is tinkering away looking for the next clever precision tool – that’s the life of an innovator and they wouldn’t have it any other way! Subscribe to the blog to be the first to hear what’s next.

If you’re not already using MySOYL but would like to look around a fully functional MySOYL account, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tom Parker sm

 

Tom Parker

Head of products & technology

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18th August 2017


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 this week I started a campaign to send MySOYL users regular tips and tricks, which I’ll share here on the blog too.

The sensible place to start is with nutrient maps. Easy access to your nutrient data allows you to view the four major nutrient levels across your farm at any time. It provides evidence that you are managing your crop nutrition diligently for any scheme that demands it, satisfies GAEC obligations and provides insight into your crop production.

To correctly access your nutrient maps, follow the steps below.

·         Log into MySOYL and click on the link that says “Go to mySOYL (New)>>”. If you need a reminder of your login details please ask.
·         Select your business from the dropdown menu
·         You are now on the home screen.

The home screen allows you to select the fields you would like to view using the ticks on the left of the field, farm, or crop (1). At the bottom you can see the area selected (2).

When you are happy with your selection, click on the ‘Map View’ button on the right (3).

Nutrient maps1

The easiest way to view your soil nutrient data for that selection is to click on ‘Saved Views’ on the left and then ‘Nutrient Layers’ (4).

Menus can be expanded and contracted by clicking the arrow (5).
Nutrient maps2 For further assistance with nutrient maps or for help to delve deeper into your farm data and make good use of it, please contact me on 01635 246590 or call the SOYL team on 01635 204190.

Tom Parker sm

 

Tom Parker

Head of products & technology

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4th August 2017


Bogballe blog postWorking with KRM Bogballe spreaders

As I set up a new iSOYL for iPad variable rate system on farm earlier this week, the farmer and I came to discussing his KRM spreader and the popularity of the brand.  This led me to reflect on our relationship with KRM and Bogballe of more than 20 years.

Bogballe was one of the first companies that SOYL worked with for variable rate application.  The UK distributor Keith Rennie and Bogballe’s owner Nils Laursen could both see the potential of precision agriculture when we briefed them and were willing to work with us.

In 1996 the original SOYL-OPTI was launched.  The first variable rate controller it connected to was the LH Agro 5000, followed by the Bogballe Calibrator 2002 after we met Nils at the Smithfield Show in December 1996 and agreed to work together.  By the spring of 1997, we had a working system where the OPTI could control the 2002 unit which in turn controlled the spreader.

In the later 1990s, many farmer clients used their OPTI with a Bogballe 2002. As the Bogballe controller range developed, with the Bogballe Calibrator 2003 coming next, SOYL maintained compatibility with each. Eventually, the blue fronted controllers were replaced by the now familiar silver and black units, starting with the Bogballe Calibrator Uniq and now the Icon and Zurf.

In 2016 the tablet based iZurf was introduced, including headland and section control and a wireless monitor for the spreader. As KRM’s kit has advanced, so has SOYL technology and this unit now works with iSOYL as well as any application maps directly uploaded to it.

Bogballe controllers are easy to work with and maintain simple but effective communications protocols.  The foresight of Bogballe in variable rate helped SOYL to deliver to forward thinking farmers in the short term, but also encouraged other spreader manufacturers to consider precision applications.

Today, SOYL services are compatible with the following KRM Bogballe controllers:

·         Calibrator 2002  (must have rs232 socket)
·         Calibrator 2003
·         Calibrator Uniq
·         Calibrator Zurf
·         Calibrator Icon.

simon parrington sm

Simon Parrington

SOYL commercial director

References: www.bogballe.com, www.krm-ltd.co.uk

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2nd August 2017


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 late to start. One year of yield mapping information can provide invaluable insight into farm business performance and it isn’t just about confirming where the ‘good bits’ and ‘bad bits’ were. How did different crops or varieties perform? What were the differences between soil types or locations?  The questions we can ask of our yield data are endless.

Where to start

One of the biggest challenges around yield data has been the lack of a straightforward place to view and analyse it. MySOYL now provides growers with these functions. Regardless of your combine colour, we can import your data from one year or twenty.

After your data is imported, you can make a start in using it in combination with all your other precision crop layers such as nutrients, soil types, or previous yield data. This means you can start to ask questions of it. It is worth pointing out the obvious that yield = income!

An example

“I wonder what variation in yield there was across that wheat block?”

Yield map blog1

“How does that look with soil type?”
Yield map blog2

“And nutrients?”
Yield map blog3“Ok so this heavy soil type needs its pH keeping a careful eye on. Is it just this year or has this happened before?”
Yield map blog4
This simple example shows the level of detail and insight given by collecting and analysing yield data. To find out more about how to get the best from yours, speak to your local advisor or call 01635 204190.

 Tom Parker sm

 

Tom Parker

Head of products & technology

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28th July 2017


Review of the European Conference on Precision Agriculture

SOYL blog European Conference on Precision Agriculture reviewAs 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 earlier this month for the 11th biennial meeting of the European Conference on Precision Agriculture.

Over 400 delegates from around the world gathered in the Scottish capital to discuss new ideas and advances in precision agriculture, both commercially and in research. SOYL was sponsoring the conference and presented three scientific papers, as well as showing the world our services in the commercial exhibition hall.

Over three days, concurrent sessions covered topics as varied as satellite applications, crop disease, precision tillage and weed management, crop sensors, irrigation and precision techniques for grassland. SOYL’s technical team was at the forefront, with agricultural development manager, David Whattoff presenting on variable depth cultivation, me on variable rate PGR benefits and SOYL Sweden’s Hans Alvemar on his grassland research.

SOYL business development manager, Rory Geldard presented at the commercial session which included discussion on ‘the low hanging fruit available for precision ag research and development’. Again the theme of data interpretation and analysis was highlighted as the area of greatest potential and there was particular interest in the MySOYL system Rory described, which acts as a data hub for SOYL customers. In the sponsors tent Rory also fielded enquiries from across the world including Mexico, Australia and China.

Keynote speakers included Rene Von schomberg, scientific officer at the European Commission. He discussed ethical research and innovation and how precision agriculture can fulfil these ethical requirements in the areas of sustainability and societal desirability to bring both environmental and economic benefits.

Matthew Smith from Microsoft Digital outlined the theme of democratisation of data with access from anywhere in the world, normally through a smartphone. ‘Big data’ is a huge area of potential in precision agriculture and farming as an industry has opportunities in its massive datasets, for example on yield, nutrition, inputs, soil and weather and information coming via new technologies such as moisture and stress sensors. Precision farming is extremely data rich and therefore is able to use data analytics to understand the patterns that control plant growth and yield to ultimately make farming more profitable. Microsoft is investing heavily in making this data available to all, which has exciting prospects for the industry.

It was a great conference in a beautiful city and a hotbed of new ideas and research that will give us all food for thought. Great feedback from the worldwide precision agriculture community also reinforced that our own products and ideas are some of the most innovative in the industry.

Simon Griffin sm

 

 

Simon Griffin

Technical manager

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18th July 2017


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 problem that has to be dealt with. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks.

Straw is currently selling for around £50/t, about £10/t more than last year. Recent good weather will potentially mean that straw is dry and can be baled immediately and the early start to harvest should make logistics easier, so fields will be cleared in good time for autumn drilling. This all sounds appealing, but is it the best option for your farm? Let’s take a look at the options and factors to consider.

  • Nutrients
Straw contains large amounts of nutrients, particularly P, K and Mg. The table below shows the volume that will be removed by a crop if straw is baled at harvest.

Crop

Straw

P205 kg/ha

K20 kg/ha

Wheat

Incorporated

7.8

5.6

Winter Wheat

Removed

8.4

10.4









Nutrient content straw



yield x 0.6

yield x 4.8

 

A 10 tonne crop of wheat will therefore remove an additional 6 kg/ha of phosphate and 48kg/ha of potash if straw is removed. At today’s fertiliser prices, this will cost £20-£25/ha to replace as when the nutrients are removed from the soil, their value is being removed too.

These figures are based on the typical ratio of straw to grain yield which is used if the actual tonnage of straw removed is not known.  If bale tonnages per hectare are known then a different calculation method can be used. 

  • Organic matter

Incorporating straw into the soil will have a beneficial effect on soil organic matter, but the actual rise from straw incorporation is very small and levels will increase slowly. Straw incorporation also helps the “workability” of soils and can lead to a reduction in wear and tear and fuel costs of using machinery.

Straw incorporation will be beneficial if no other sources of organic material are available and organic matter levels are low at below 5%. If organic matter levels are already good or manures are available to spread then baling should be considered.

If a straw for muck agreement is an option, then the amount of P and K in any muck should be calculated as this may be more than the amount of P and K removed in the straw. Manures will also increase soil organic matter levels faster than straw incorporation and is therefore a more efficient way of improving organic matter.

  • Agronomy

StrawStraw incorporation does not show any conclusive negative effect on disease and weed populations.

However, when straw is incorporated, slug populations are likely to double. When slug pressures are high, the decision on whether to chop or bale straw may have a significant agronomic impact through slug damage and costs of control, with the estimated benefit of straw removal being around £20/ha.

Consideration should also be given to cultivation methods. Shallow tillage may leave straw at seed depth and potentially affect subsequent establishment.

  • Harvest logistics and machinery

A farmer who sells straw in the swath at £8-£15/t (c.£25-£50/ha) rather than chopping it for incorporation may expect to save £4-£5/ha from not chopping straw. A farmer who bales, carts and stores his straw will typically achieve a net return of £80-£150/ha.

The cost of any damage caused by running machinery must be taken into account. For example, consequent soil compaction could cost £55/ha to fix by sub soiling. Delays to establishment can also lead to yield loss.

The cost of baling and carting and whether this will be carried out by contractors or on farm also needs to be considered.

A combination of all these factors and fluctuations in the fertiliser and straw market will mean that each farm and year will be unique. Speak to your local advisor for guidance specific to your individual circumstances.

Simon Griffin sm

 

Simon Griffin

Technical manager

 

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14th July 2017


My first month at SOYL

Hello! I joined SOYL on 5th June 2017 as area manager for Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire and thought I’d give you some insight into the training and development that SOYL invests in new recruits like me.

I grew up on the family farm on the South Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire border and have worked in agriculture since 2006 as a soil mapping analyst, a grain buyer and later as a BASIS qualified agronomist. I’ve never been through such a comprehensive induction and training programme before and my first impressions of the company are excellent. With such a helpful, friendly team around me too, I feel as though I’ve settled in quickly and I’m excited for my future at SOYL.

My first week included a mixture of spending time at two of our main offices in Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire meeting colleagues. I also spent a day at Wansford 3D Thinking trial site and attended a SOYL workshop with some of our customers, which gave me a great insight into the new MySOYL platform.

My second week was spent at SOYL’s head office at Newbury, where the team made me feel most welcome.  I spent each day with a different team showing me the ropes, talking to me about systems and processes and checking out the warehouse. It was very worthwhile but a long week which meant my terrier, “The Little One”, was sent on holiday for a few days; although I missed her, she didn’t want to come home and leave her new spaniel friends and spent the following week sulking! Other members of my menagerie include two horses, Juno, aka “The New One”, who is quite naughty and Buster, an 18 year old ex-household cavalry horse.

Week three and four were mostly spent on joint farm visits to customers in South Lincolnshire and Norfolk, finding out more about how SOYL is already helping their businesses. I also had the opportunity to represent SOYL at Groundswell in Hertfordshire and Wickenby 3D Thinking open day in Lincolnshire, which was seriously wet! Thankfully I was in the barn quite a lot, though I went out to tour the trial plots with some customers too. The Frontier team was great, again making me most welcome and it was great to meet some customers in my area too.

It’s been a busy but wonderful introduction to the business and I look forward to meeting and working with more customers in the coming weeks. If you’re farming in the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire area and I haven’t been in touch yet, please feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Antonia2

 

Antonia Walker

Area manager, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire

 

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6th July 2017


2017 European Conference on Precision Agriculture

ECPANext 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 event at which researchers and scientists from around the world present on their work in the field of precision agriculture. Papers cover a wide range of arable, horticultural and livestock projects. This year’s theme is ‘Innovating through research’.

SOYL’s scientific contributions

This year, members of the SOYL team are involved in three papers:

·         Simon Griffin, technical manager and Jeremy Hollis, soil scientist will be presenting research based on trials of variable rate PGRs. Satellite imagery of biomass variation in wheat fields was used as a basis to change the rate of PGR across a field and the yield benefits were compared to flat rate applications.

·         David Whattoff, agricultural development manager, is presenting a paper on creating variable depth tillage zones. Combining data from conductivity maps and a penetrometer survey, these are used together to create a three dimensional application plan that varies the depth of the cultivator in real time.

·         Hans Alvemar, CEO of SOYL Sweden is jointly presenting a paper on Controlled Traffic Farming.

Why do we support the event?

The UK leads Europe in the adoption of precision agriculture and hosting this year’s event is a great opportunity to showcase the UK’s expertise. SOYL is proud to have played a part in this success and we’re delighted to contribute to the event.

From an innovation perspective, the event is a great opportunity to network with fellow researchers and scientists. We’ll be sharing ideas with those at the forefront of cutting edge research, including big data, pasture management, disease management and crop and soil sensors. Some of these discussions may be taken further by our expert team to develop new and improved precision approaches and help growers in making every hectare count.

Since iSOYL and MySOYL are used in many countries, the event also gives us chance to meet existing international partners and potential candidates to take SOYL into new countries.

Check the blog later this month for our review of the conference.

You can find out more about the event here and follow ECPA on Twitter.


simon parrington sm

 

Simon Parrington

SOYL commercial director

 

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30th June 2017


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 inform our advice to customers. We can also run quick searches on simple data like field name, so I spoke to one of the tech wizards back at the SOYL office who quickly did some magic and came back with the top ten:

Field name Number of fields
Big Field 
320
Barn Field 282
Long Field 239
Stackyard 229
Pond Field 222
Middle Field
221
Home Field 217
Cottage
215
Front Field
200
Pond 
199

        
Not really any surprises there, though I might have expected to see Barn Field come out on top. The system also told us that the largest field we work with is a huge 132 hectares!

The chart below represents the most popular names in our system; the larger the bubble, the more fields with that name.

simon parrington sm

 

 

Simon Parrington

SOYL commercial director
CommonFieldNamesDistinctByBusiness

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27th June 2017


enews June17 trainingSummer 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 each. With a laptop provided for everyone attending, the focus is on how to use SOYL services and tools to make even smarter business decisions and what to do when help is required.

The subjects covered are:

·         Basic exploration of MySOYL, our precision farming data management platform; how to use it, what’s available and some tips and tricks

·         Cropping and how we can make the flow of information between SOYL and farmer more accurate and efficient to ultimately lead to better nutrient management

·         How and why to record field walking observations on a digital platform using the iSOYLscout app

·         Custom Applications: creating variable rate plans for any product with an easy to use interface.

The sessions are a mixture of demonstrations and do-it-yourself exercises with plenty of SOYL staff on hand to help with the practicalities and answer questions specific to your own farm business.

The sessions give growers insight into why products work the way they do as well as how to get the best from them, and of course all attendees have been very interested in what’s coming next!

Several events have already taken place in recent weeks, but there’s still time to attend; find your nearest here.

Feedback on what to cover is always gratefully received. Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Tom Parker sm

 

Tom Parker

Head of products & technology

 

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21st June 2017


Welcome to the Making Every Hectare Count 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.

It will be valuable to anyone interested in sustainable and profitable crop production and for those interested in precision agriculture product and service development.

Our posts will focus on a wide range of topics including:

·         Soil, nutrition and crop production

·         Getting the best from precision farming

·         Working at SOYL

·         Precision agriculture development

·         How we develop innovative technology like MySOYL and iSOYL

·         Lessons learned during 24 years of precision farming.

Making Every Hectare Count is a mantra that’s behind everything we do. We’re here to develop products and services that help farmers to get the very best from every hectare economically, agronomically and environmentally, and we look forward to sharing some of this with you on this page.

If there’s a topic you would like to see us write about, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your suggestions.


simon parrington sm

 

 

Simon Parrington

SOYL commercial director

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Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @SOYLprecision for regular updates on soils, nutrients, machinery and GPS.

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