SOYL Newsletter January 2015

1. Satellite image capture begins for variable rate nitrogen service

Satellite image acquisition is about to begin for this year's variable rate nitrogen applications.

SOYLsense will upload the first satellite image of the season this week. This will enable growers to monitor initial crop biomass variation across their farm and apply nitrogen at varying rates according to results, reducing waste and boosting yields. SOYLsense trials over the last six years have shown yield benefits of up to 8%.

Feb enews SOYLsense

The second image will be released in February in time for the first applications on winter oilseed rape. Images will then be acquired on a regular basis over the next four months to match the critical growth period for winter wheat, winter barley and winter oilseed rape.

Alongside this image acquisition, a team of calibration staff will start work in the field to collect crop data to enable the conversion of the raw satellite image into a Leaf Area Index (LAI) map. This additional data will allow growers to manage their canopies and work towards optimum LAIs based on HGCA research.

Coupled with these images will be a series of frequent bulletins which will offer advice on how to use the satellite imagery to create the best possible recommendations to achieve target yields and even canopies.

There is still time to make a booking. Simply call your local SOYL area manager or the SOYLsense team on 01635 204198. For existing customers, please ensure that you have submitted all 2015 cropping reports to the SOYLsense team for the fields you want to include in the service.

2. Buying new variable rate equipment

With such a huge range of manufacturers and their many variants of spreaders and drills, growers often ask us for advice on which is the best equipment for their precision farming tasks.

Jan enews

Double overlap, auto shut-off, hydraulic drive, twin hoppers, discs and tines are all factors to consider. Then having identified the ideal equipment for your specific ground conditions and soil type, as well as matching the power requirement and size to suit your tramlines, the make and model of implement will depend on factors such as dealer support and of course, price.

Regarding variable rate itself, it is important to ensure that the implement will be delivered ready to go. Asking if the drill or spreader can undertake variable rate tasks will likely be answered with a ‘yes’, without disclosing the fact that further costs may be imposed to unlock software, which can cost up to £1800.

The system and its communication method also need to be factored in to ensure that data can be transferred easily from maps to the implement.

Spreaders or drills that are supplied with their own control box system may fall under these different categories:

System will only read application files on control box and require GPS input
System will receive variable rate data from third party devices; these are SERIAL data systems (RS232) and may require a special cable
Some systems can do both of the above.
Equipment that is purchased with ISOBUS ability is likely intended to connect to an existing tractor controlling system. These will read a SOYL application map without requiring software unlock. However, a variable rate enabled implement purchased from one manufacturer will not always connect to a controller made by another without incurring further cost, so it is important that this is confirmed before committing to buy.

For further advice and guidance on variable rate equipment purchase and compatibility, speak to the SOYL hardware team on 01635 204190.

3. Winter Workshops 2014-15

Over 1000 growers have now registered for the latest round of Winter Workshops. Only five events remain; if you would like to attend an event near you, please register here or email your details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Perth WW

Workshops in February:

Feb 3rd Bury St. Edmunds
Feb 5th Whittlebury
Feb 6th Beverley
Feb 12th Salisbury
Feb 13th Chichester
BASIS and NRoSO points are available for attendees at these events.

Other dates for the diary in 2015 include:

4th March
Precision Farming, Newark Showground, Newark, Notts.

10th – 11th June
Cereals, Boothby Graffoe, Lincs.

4. Meet Matt Lawrence

This month we would like to introduce Matt, our SOYLseed team leader.

“In the 4 years that I have been the SOYLseed team leader, the department has grown considerably in line with demand for our service. Varying seed rates in order to achieve a more even crop establishment overall makes perfect sense to our customers.

Matt Lawrence

I enjoy the variety of my day; speaking with the field team, creating drilling files to tight deadlines and supporting our growers. Over the last year I've also been involved in implementing our new GIS software, which makes the variable seed rate process more efficient and improves the presentation of customer maps.

The establishment estimates that we come up with are the starting point for a conversation between the grower and the SOYLseed team and SOYL area manager about what the final seed drilling maps should look like. Discussing the farmer's needs and being able to incorporate their own invaluable knowledge and experience into the plans is a rewarding part of the process.

We appreciate that requirements can change at short notice and many customers enjoy the freedom to amend their own seed rate calculations using the mySOYL website. As I’m also part of the mySOYL support team, I assist users in doing this, resolving queries, getting involved with online customer training sessions and keeping growers up to date with the latest features and developments.”

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

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