Making Every Hectare Count Blog


Welcome to ‘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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22nd December 2017


2017 - a SOYL year in review...

As 2017 draws to an end we can reflect on another exciting year working at the heart of precision crop production.

Our mission to help our customers Make Every Hectare Count continued in 2017 and we’ve enjoyed a wide range of developments and achievements, summarised in this end of year blog.

January is always a busy start to the year with the AICC conference and LAMMA to attend.  Both are important events to SOYL with the AICC event providing the opportunity to meet many agronomists and LAMMA being the UK’s largest agricultural and machinery show.

February saw the start of another busy satellite imagery season.  The main use of imagery continues to be variable rate nitrogen but in 2017 we started to see increased interest in using imagery for crop scouting and variable rate PGRs as part of our data analysis work.  With satellite technology improving all the time we provided record numbers of images to our clients, opening up an even wider range of uses for the data.

In March we started discussions with a partner in Holland who has now introduced SOYL’s services into the Dutch market.  We also toured Sweden where we ran workshops for our customers there.

April saw a flurry of drone work for a range of mainly corporate rather than farmer clients.  We also started some early work with a company call Spectrum Aviation who use light aircraft to collect imagery.  This approach gives the detail and flexibility of a drone but with a sensible daily output of hectares. 

In May we started our 18th harvest of CLAAS support which included an extended arrangement to look after GPS equipped foragers and telematics-based yield mapping.  We also ran a series of customer training sessions.  These were based around small groups with hands-on instruction on the use of mySOYL (our web-based precision data management tool) and iSOYL (our variable rate iPad app).

In June we had a SOYL first – a retirement.  We said farewell to Nick Hall, an Area Manager covering the western region.  Nick joined us in 2001 having previously working in farm management, crop nutrition, soil testing, fertiliser and lime sales roles during his career.  We celebrated Nick’s career as a team and he still attends SOYL events, catching up with colleagues and customers.

July saw the launch of this blog which has become one of the busiest precision crop production related blogs on the internet. 

In July our science team were prominent at the European Conference for Precision Agriculture (ECPA) where they presented three scientific papers.  The event was held in Edinburgh and consisted of an intense 3 days of scientific papers alongside a small exhibition.  Our stand in the exhibition provided a chance to meet existing partners and talk to new international contacts who may wish to roll out SOYL in their country.

In August we launched version 3 of mySOYL which included a brand new variable rate seed calculator, establishment editor, user tasks and extensive data analysis tools.  2017 was a busy year for our in-house software development team.  Efforts are now focused on a three month block of work that will go live at the end of January 2018 - probably one of the biggest releases since mySOYL version 1 in 2012.

September and October are very busy months in field with over 100,000 hectares of land to be surveyed in one form or another in those two months alone. 

November saw the Croptec show where we were proud to unveil FIVE new innovations – a testament to the work of our product development teams.  We also started our winter workshops which, after a lot of hard work behind the scenes, were well received by customers.  These continue around the UK into January and February 2018.

With a busy 2018 to look forward to December is a great time for planning and doing some winter housekeeping ready for a quick start to the New Year.

I would like to wish our customers, colleagues and business partners a very enjoyable festive period.  Working in agriculture can be demanding at times and I hope that all of you will find at least some time to relax.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me and the rest of the team at SOYL.

My first blog of 2018 will take a look at our plans for the year, which we hope will be just as busy and just as productive for us and our grower customers.

Simon Parrington

 

 

 

Simon Parrington
SOYL Commercial Director

 

 


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

 


12th December 2017


Working in the SOYL Applications Team

map1


Over the last two years the Applications Team has expanded from a team of four to a team of eight, as we continue to create recommendations and variable rate files for more hectares both here and internationally.

Aside from a few team members that work remotely, we are predominantly based at our Newbury headquarters in Berkshire. Together, we are responsible for making farming application maps for fertiliser, lime and seed for SOYL clients all over the world.

This blog takes a look at what we deal with as a team on a day-to-day basis across a 12-month period.

Phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and lime

In the UK alone, we create fertiliser recommendations for over 1.1 million hectares every year. Such a breadth of work is always on-going but it is just one aspect of the Applications Team's role.

Using soil sampling results and the Nutrient Management Guide RB209*, combined with our own soil science and nutrition models, we work out the nutrient required by the growing crop to reach optimum yield. Depending on the fertiliser chosen by the customer, we then provide a recommendation of tonnages and variable rate GPS files.

Lime recommendations are very much seasonal, with peaks in spring and in the autumn between the periods the crop is harvested and the new crop is planted. We use the pH analysis from soil sampling to work out the required lime tonnage to bring each area up to the desired target. 

We have great working relationships with over 100 lime contractors that we supply lime applications maps to, as well up-to-date farm maps where required. 

map2

Variable rate nitrogen

Nitrogen is a key nutrient when it comes to yield and quality and during the spring months, we work to ensure our customers get their nitrogen in time and when the crop requires it.

With the use of satellite imagery, we are able to manage crop canopy growth by applying nitrogen fertiliser variably. As a team, we offer support for customers creating their own plans at home using our online platform, provide a rapid-response service and make nitrogen maps and variable rate files for clients here in the SOYL office.

International work

In the last two years, SOYL has expanded into the international market with partners across the world. Such relationships range from partners selling our mobile apps to others offering the full sampling and recommendations service.

In those countries where our partners offer the full service, we will process the sampling data and create the fertiliser recommendations. While in the UK we base our recommendations on the RB209 guide, other countries each have their own guidelines and legislation we must adhere to when defining nutrient requirements. Working in such a varied way gives us the opportunity to expand our knowledge much wider than the usual UK processes.

No two hectares are the same

Across all elements of our work, every farm system is different in some way or another which makes every day different too. With the support of our 21 UK Area Managers and five international partners, we can ensure that every recommendation produced and delivered on farm has been tailored to meet the farmer's specific requirements.

Working in the applications team involves lots of farmer contact, a wide range of development opportunities and a chance to work at the leading precision farming company.We regularly recruit into this rapidly expanding team, so if you are interested please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For other career opportunities at SOYL please visit - www.soyl.com/about/careers

*Read this SOYL blog post for more information on the RB209 


Simon Parrington






Simon Parrington
SOYL Commercial Director

 

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

 


1st December 2017


Get a precise focus on your EFAs 

Changes are ahead for Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). However, by taking a more precise approach to tailor the farm areas allocated to EFAs and choosing longer term crop options, they still represent a fantastic opportunity to improve biodiversity and the farm’s bottom line.

EFAs have hit the headlines due to the imminent removal of the use of Plant Protection Products (PPPs) in 2018. As a result many of us will be looking for a replacement for nitrogen fixing crops which have been a relatively simple to implement option. Without PPPs growing pulses will not be viable, so how do you identify which options will help fulfil your 5% EFA requirement?

Precision data to support EFA decisions 

EFAs present the opportunity to deliver an ‘ecological’ version of set-aside and with careful planning they can deliver great benefits for farmland wildlife, protect our valuable soil and water resources and improve the profitability of a farm business. So how do you ensure you get the best value from EFAs with the changes ahead? 

Well, precision farming can help!  For many growers access to yield maps, soil type zones and nutrient maps are essential factors in on-farm decision making.  These can also help identify the areas of each field that don’t deliver the required revenue to be profitable and this data can then be used to help fulfil the 5% EFA requirement.  Why farm parcels of poor productivity at a loss, when you can include them within your EFA requirement instead?

map

SOYL map – Your precision farming maps are a good first point of call to identify poor yielding land that
may be better utilised to fulfil your EFA requirements going forward.

Previously, growers would manually look to place habitat features on field boundaries or in awkward corners. Now, with SOYL’s precision farming application MySOYL, farm areas can be viewed and analysed online to help growers earmark strips, blocks or whole fields to be included in their EFA commitment. With insight from the online MySOYL site you can take the worst of your land out of production (it could be shaded by woodland, have thin brows, clay caps, be at risk of water logging etc). Take this approach and suddenly the area you are farming is delivering much more effectively. Farming your arable crops efficiently also means you are able to farm your habitat options efficiently too.

A simple comparison of crop performance from yield maps, soil potential from soil type zones and fertiliser costs from nutrient maps can all be done in MySOYL.  This helps to identify land that consistently performs well, as well as areas that consistently perform below average and lend themselves to EFA.

Choosing alternative crops for the EFA

The removal of PPPs within EFAs means that longer term options will now become more attractive. These include nectar flower, herb rich leys and grass/wildflower mixtures – which in turn sees excellent pollinator habitat introduced and greater benefits to the surrounding arable crops – the ideal scenario.  Careful siting may also help protect watercourses to reduce diffuse pollution and the loss of valuable soil particles.

It’s true that pollinator mixtures require investment to begin with. Seed costs will be in the region of £140/ha and establishment costs will need to be considered to ensure they reach their full potential but once up and running, they may well go on to deliver benefits for 4-10 years. Taking the long term gains into account means that costs are effectively minimal overall.

Claire Norfolk combine and PN

Nectar flower can be a good mix to use on EFA Fallow land

Don’t overlook the benefits you can gain from using EFA fallow as a means to manage blackgrass or soil structural issues.   Through SOYL’s services you can soon allocate a rotational approach to EFA deployment by taking poor land out of production for possibly two to three years and then bringing it back into the rotation. This can be a good way of taking proactive management in hand and ensuring the next crop can be a rewarding, high quality first wheat after a three year break. 

What should you do next? 

Consider the crop production approach to your EFA option selection and integrate your precision farming tools to make best possible business decisions. To help you find out more about how to get the best from your EFA options in 2018, Kings is working with Syngenta and the Campaign For The Farmed Environment to host EFA events which you can attend over the coming weeks in Yorkshire and Berkshire

Richard Barnes             Simon Parrington

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Richard Barnes                    Simon Parrington
Kings Sales Manager           SOYL Commericial Director

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


28th November 2017


Why should I be digitally recording on-farm data?

Over the coming winter months I will be talking to hundreds of UK farmers about SOYL’s Precision Farming application, MySOYL, and other associated in-field apps.

Many will likely wonder what value there is in recording what they see on farm in an app and have this data synced to a central place. Our field-walking app, iSOYLscout, does exactly this and there are many reasons I encourage more and more farmers to do it.

The data speaks for itself 

The value of data grows over time and this allows farmers to make more informed, supported decisions. As an example, when yield-mapping started back in the early 1990’s, the technology wasn’t particularly sophisticated and the value of recording crop yields from across the field had limited use. Criticisms were often centred on ‘data being in the past’ and ‘that was last year’s crop, we’re in the following season now’ and so on.

But as the years passed, persistent users found themselves with an archive of yield maps which had depth. The inconsistencies of odd growing seasons were ironed out and maps of performance could then be produced over time. Eventually, farmers were able to look at which physical areas of the business were consistently making positive contributions to profit and how to maximise these results. In contrast, they could also review and potentially change the management of any areas having the opposite effect.

The point is that although the value of the individual yield map wasn’t necessarily apparent in the first year, over time the value was derived by the amount of information captured.

One of the key messages I often promote is to always record the information. While its use may not be obvious in the first instance, we will certainly discover uses for it in the future. What we can’t do is go back in time when we suddenly realise why we need it!

So, when recording data on farm, use iSOYLscout to log simple observations. Anything that might have a bearing on a future decision – crop establishment (good and bad), weed populations, weed persistence post-herbicide, soil conditions and pest occurrences – will no doubt prove useful in time. It will help our decision-making going forward if we know (through accurate records, not memory!) what the crop establishment was in the autumn when conditions were difficult, or very favourable. Is that weed population now worse or better? Did the winter wheat establish poorly the last time we grew it here? How about plotting the quality of establishment against the rainfall in the days or weeks before drilling?

In a world where justification is key when looking to control a pest (like slugs) in a targeted way, or wanting to demonstrate that one part of your field is always the most susceptible, such records are vital. Any grower with such an archive of stored data can be far more proactive and ahead-of-the-game when dealing with potential threats and challenges on farm. For those without, it’s often very much a case of waiting for damage to occur before being able to take any action and by then it might be too late.

So, just by using digital data more effectively, it’s important to remember there are several winners. The farmer, the crop and the environment. 

Tom Parker sm

  
Tom Parker
Head of products & technology 

 

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

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24th November 2017


Data analysis comes alive at this year’s workshops

A few clients have asked me what to expect at this year’s SOYL winter workshops.  You can find a general overview in this article but as the team finalise their slide decks, I’m starting to see a very clear theme: Data.

There‘s been a lot of talk about data in recent years and we’re now starting to see very positive learnings by analysing complex precision data sets for our clients.  With their permission, we will be sharing some of these exciting developments at our upcoming winter workshops.

Example:

graph1

Data analysis showing yield per soil type across a one farm

 

The importance of data analysis

Our company mission is to help our clients make every hectare count. We can use data analysis to help us achieve this in a number of ways:

  1. Analyse region or country-wide data sets to identify trends and improve broad on-farm best practice.

  2. Analyse farm-specific data sets to identify within-farm trends or limiting factors to improve performance across the farm.

  3. Analyse in-field data sets at a very detailed resolution to see which factors are impacting and/or driving yield in each part of the field.

Our data team have been working on all three of these areas over the last two years and we are delighted to publically share some of our findings

Some of these data innovations will be available as easy-to-use tools in mySOYL, our online precision data management platform.  More complex analysis will be available through our advisory service due to the more intricate data input and interpretation required, all of which we will look at as part of our upcoming workshops. 

Places are limited so to book a seat and discover how we are using data to help our clients, reserve your free place at one of our workshops today. 

Tom Parker sm

  
Tom Parker
Head of products & technology 

 

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

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21st November 2017

Why and how would you do your own late-November plant counts?

During germination a proportion of viable seeds can fail to emerge due to pests, diseases and soil conditions, impacting the total viable plants in the spring. Conversely, too high a plant population can increase canopy size (GAI) and reduce the ability of individual plants to compete for light and resources, meaning there will be fewer grains on each ear.

Using SOYLseed

To combat such conditions, our SOYLseed service has been specifically designed to manage the variability of establishment-percent figures, helping to deliver a target plant population of 260 – 300 plants/m2 in the spring.

SOYL’s establishment-percent figures used in conjunction with SOYL’s soil type maps are based on 1,000s of plant counts across multiple soil types around the UK.  Plant counts taken and recorded from your own farm will be even more appropriate and specific for your soils, allowing any future variable rate seed plans to be even more precise.

By now, the wheat crops drilled this autumn will all have emerged. This means that plant counts can be undertaken to measure actual crop emergence, enabling zone establishment-percent figures to be fine-tuned and fed back into the decision-making process for upcoming years.

How should you conduct a plant count?

To carry out plant counts, choose at least two or three fields. Look at the soil survey, seed rate or establishment map and choose zones of high and low seed rates, establishment and heavy and light areas to assess the emergence over a wide range. Either using a background map on a smartphone, the iSOYLscout app or by pacing it out, locate the sample location in the field.

Using a SOYL quadrant, place it on the ground at least three metres from tramlines and away from headlands, making sure one edge is parallel to the crop row. Count all plants in the quadrant and record the number and GPS location if possible. Once completed, multiply the plant number by four to get plants per m².  For an accurate analysis, you should aim to collect counts from between three and five quadrants per zone.

Using the actual counted number of plants per m² and comparing this to the seed rate in the same zone (seeds m²), you can then work out the actual emergence-rate. When calculated, this can be compared to the predicted establishment-percent that was used to calculate the original seed rate. Any differences that are highlighted can be noted and used to inform the seed rate in that zone for the following year.

Importance of timing your counts

Counting plants in November will give the emergence-percent but not establishment. Some plants may die (from pests or from a very cold winter etc.) so any establishment recorded prior to this would be inaccurate. Because of this, it is a good idea for plants to be re-counted in the spring.

 

Mapping

5 locations for plant counts per zone is ideal

 

Simon Griffin

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Griffin
Technical manager

 

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

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20th November 2017

Have you considered correcting your pH with lime?

We experience many different scenarios during the farming year while providing support and files to over 100 lime contractors from across the UK. After what has been a very hectic few weeks dealing with lime contractors desperate to get onto clear land, I thought it would be worth writing a short blog on liming and things to consider when it comes to some of the common UK arable crops.  

Why is correcting pH important?

Soil pH can seriously affect crop growth which can significantly affect final yield.  However, crops vary in their sensitivity to soil pH and thus their ability to reach full potential depends very much on the plant.  Oilseed rape, sugar beet, barley and peas are examples of this. Sugar beet, for example, will yield considerably less at pH6. If you are aware you have acidic areas within a field from nutrient mapping and they have not been limed 12 months before beet planting, consider a granular lime product for a quick fix to the problem.  

The optimum pH in most arable rotations is around 6.5 as this covers the majority of crops. Most will grow well in a pH range of between 6 and 7 without having too much of a detrimental impact on yield, especially if nutrients are being applied fresh every year.

Correcting soil pH is also vitally important for the availability of nutrients to the plant. Most nutrients are fully available (or close to) between a pH of 6.5 - 7. Although not all nutrients are at ‘optimum’ availability at this range, there is enough overlap to reduce the chance of deficiency due to pH levels. 
limeLeaving pH levels at acidic levels can result in large yield penalties but on the flip side, increasing to a pH of above 7 can be costly and reduce the availability of some nutrients.  It’s imperative that careful and detailed management is undertaken to maintain soils at the optimum level, while not over-liming.

Soil pH also influences the utilisation of applied fertiliser.  The table below shows the affect soil pH has on the crops ability to utilise applied N, P and K fertiliser.  It is based on an application of 220 kgN, 80kg P and 80kg K at a cost of £220 per ha (August 2017 pricing):

table1

 

How does lime work?

All limestone products are made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates responsible for neutralizing acids in the soil. The calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE) represents the sum of the calcium and magnesium carbonates in a liming material. The higher the CCE, the greater the acid-neutralizing value of the lime.

In order for lime to work to maximum efficiency, the carbonates must come into contact with the acids in the soil. Smaller-sized particles react faster to neutralize the soil, as shown in the table below.  Ideally, the maximum particle size should be 2.4mm – any above this are unlikely to have much impact on soil pH.  This is why, when ordering lime from any supplier, you should find out the neutralising value and the particle size of the product.

 

table2

 

Due to the dustiness of the fine lime particles, it is commonly granulated or prilled to make it more easily spreadable.

Disease management

Clubroot control can be helped by liming at an appropriate time to reduce the consequences of the disease. Ground Lime will add calcium ions (Ca2+) and raise soil pH. These, combined together, will reduce the impact of clubroot on a brassica where the cases of disease are mild to moderate.

High pH soils have been linked to the worst cases of scab in potato ground. The lower the pH of the soil, the better the disease will be controlled. Research has found that scab is best controlled at a pH between 5 and 5.2, however this is far from doable in a normal arable rotation including potatoes. Because of this, planning lime applications into your rotation is important.

Soil types

The soil type of your field or farm should be a factor when considering liming rates. If you compare a sandy soil against a heavy clay soil, for example, they have very different structures and would require different lime management techniques.

Heavy clay soils have the ability to hold onto the calcium and magnesium ions supplied by the liming product, so will continue to displace the hydrogen ions. On such soil it would be suitable to apply once every four years, as long as the correct liming product is used.

In comparison, a sandy soil will not hold the calcium and hydrogen ions due to their free draining nature. On such soil types, it would be more appropriate to apply lime more regularly at lower doses.

Key points

  • Consider your rotation- do you grow acid sensitive crops?
  • What soil type are you on?
  • Always ask about NV values of lime to ensure this is accounted for.
  • Make sure you know the particle size of the lime being supplied.
  • Could a product such as Magnesium Limestone be beneficial? Always check Magnesium levels.
  • Do you need a quick result for one year? Consider the possible use of a granulated lime.

 

Gavin Campbell
Applications team leader

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

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9th November 2017

Managing Establishment

The establishment of crops is measured by the percentage of seeds that result in a viable crop. For example, what would be considered the ’good’ part of a field might establish at 90%, whereas a ‘poor’ part may only establish at 50%.

SOYL customers have access to several tools designed to aid with managing crop establishment, as well as lots of information explaining why and how to use them for the best results. Recently, I wrote to our customers and explained the features and benefits of using a tool like MySOYL to manage establishment.

MySOYL establishment tools

Accessed via a single log on, SOYL’s web-based business management tool, MySOYL, allows growers and advisors to record and analyse their precision farming data. Information can be easily added, retrieved and edited, as well as accurate test scenarios carried out without even needing to set foot in the field.

Having so much data available at the touch of a button means growers are able to make constructive, well-informed, profitable business decisions that ensure the best crop establishment possible. There is also the opportunity to take a look at potential long-term trends so future business strategies can be planned accordingly.

One particularly useful feature of MySOYL is the edit tool which allows you to create and amend multiple establishment layers or scenarios. Users will find original maps that have been created according to soil characteristics but these can be edited to reflect specific ground-conditions. For example, layers may highlight different years where different seed bed qualities were achieved, different crops, or indeed different seasons such as winter versus spring.

When creating establishment layers, it’s important to note that you cannot directly edit the default layer as it is a ‘System Layer’. However, you can create a new establishment layer (based upon the default) and edit that instead. If you have multiple layers and need to add a new and slightly different one, there is the option to copy an existing layer and go on to edit that too.

In addition, because managing establishment is iterative, over time you may want to refine some of the default figures controlling your drilling plans to better suit the methods you predominantly use.

Editing and creating establishment layers

When logged into the module, click ‘Create’ (or ‘Edit’ if you are editing) and follow these simple steps:

1.       Select the ‘Fields’ tab to begin editing (you can edit multiple fields together)

2.       Select the ‘Zones’ tab and use the drawing tools to change or create zones

3.       Click the ‘Set Rate’ button to enter (or edit) the establishment percentage, or type the figures directly into the table. 
 
MySOYL
 
You can find out more about the MySOYL application here, get training and support from a member of the SOYL team or log in to your account to get started.

Tom Parker sm

  
Tom Parker
Head of products & technology 

 

 

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

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6th November 2017

Can we support your event? An open invitation to the industry

There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and while that might be true, there is such a thing as a free presentation on the very latest in precision farming techniques and tips.

It is the time of year when I and other senior members of the SOYL team spend a lot of time presenting to growers around the country.

We have always enjoyed delivering these events and, given the recent rate of innovation and interest in precision agriculture, the last couple of years have been particularly busy.

If you are planning a farmer discussion group or meeting this winter and would like to include a free update on developments in precision agriculture and related technology, drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07850 468587 so we can discuss.

I, or one of my team, will be happy to tailor our expertise and knowledge to deliver a presentation and answer questions at your particular event.  Whether your audience is a group of die-hard precision enthusiasts or farmers that have not yet started their precision journey, we will adapt what we do to them.

This is an open invitation and it could be a way to add value and interest to your event, at no cost to you or your guests.  
I look forward to hearing from you. 
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.

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2nd November 2017


It's that time of year again - SOYL Winter Workshops

We've just announced the details of our SOYL Winter Workshops which kick off at the end of November and run right through towards the end of February.

To some, hosting so many workshops across England and Scotland might seem like quite an undertaking but we are always encouraged by the positive feedback we receive from both regular and new attendees.

So, what can attendees expect this time?

We are really excited for the round of 2017/18 events and have a wide range of new advice and precision tools to showcase. The general theme of our workshops will focus on three main areas:

  1. Developments to enhance our existing precision services
  2. The launch of new tools now ready for use in real farm situations
  3. Innovations in the pipeline now.

Attending our workshops in previous seasons has proved useful both for current and potential precision clients. Feedback from attendees includes: “one of the best technical events I’ve attended” and “practical and informative.” Typically we attract more than 1,000 growers over the winter and expect our upcoming events to be just as popular.

As well as covering the three themes above, at each event we’ll share expertise on the following topics: 

An introduction to Elton Farm
We will take a closer look at this particular business to learn more about the ways data can be used to support decisions and improve productivity.  Analysis of data will show how different layers interact in a farm situation.

The benefits of multiple precision farming services
During last season, we tried various combinations of all our precision farming services in one field to help assess the cumulative benefits of managing many inputs variably. We will use the workshops as an opportunity to unveil the results and discuss any lessons learnt.

Precision soil management
A detailed look at managing the physical, chemical and biological state of our soils including precision soil health, magnesium management, trace elements and targeted cultivations.

Nitrogen decision making for spring 2018
We’ll take a look at current season data and how it can be combined with precision management to improve crop yield.

Site-specific agronomy guidelines
There are a range of precision options to support in-field agronomy decisions.  We’ll review apps, aerial sensors and control systems which, when used together, will create an integrated system to improve field management.

Managing grass with precision
We’ll take a look at some new developments aimed at improving decision-making and the profitability of grass crops.

Integrated precision data management
There will be the opportunity to view MySOYL, the web-based tool that allows all your precision data to be managed and analysed in one location. For the very first time, we’ll be demonstrating the latest developments to the platform which include yield map tools, improved data analysis and real time weather.


To reserve your free place please call 01635 204190, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or register online.
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.

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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 2630

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

Greenstar 2630The 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 GS4The 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.

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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

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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 

 

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

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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.  

Gavin CampbellApplications team leader

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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
 

 

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

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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

 

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


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