SOYL Newsletter October 2014
1. Learn the latest on precision production
Growers can find out about the latest developments in precision crop production and what new trials data has revealed at 19 SOYL Winter Workshops, from Inverness to Chichester, this season. Topics will include:
Using field data analysis to improve your business performance
Improving soil health with organic matter testing and cover cropping
Managing the challenge of PK variation with effective crop nutrition
Investigating per plant agronomy using aerial mapping
New solutions for current issues including variable rate PGRs and cultivations
An announcement about the launch of the most exciting new technology in precision crop production.
Last year's workshops were attended by over 1000 people. Feedback showed how useful growers found the events:
Simon Parrington, SOYL's commercial director, enthuses, “This is the fifth consecutive year that we have held the Winter Workshops. They are a great opportunity for growers to share their experiences and discuss their options with others in the same situation and location. And as always, members of the SOYL team will be on hand to share their expertise and offer advice.”
The workshops start at 9.30am and finish with lunch at 12.30pm, with the opportunity to speak to our experts following the presentations.
2. Cut costs with new variable rate cultivation technology
The latest development in variable depth cultivation uses a high level of precision to cut costs and improve weed control. SOYL’s Autodepth controller, developed in collaboration with Cultivating Solutions, enables the working depth of soil loosening tines to be varied according to information from soil or weed maps. In field trials, fuel consumption was cut by 20% in the heaviest parts of the field, with no detrimental effect to the cultivation being carried out.
The Autodepth is superior to modern stubble cultivators which have been designed to have a progressive effect on the soil. By combining discs, tines and rollers in varying configurations, traditional cultivators move and lift the soil, with the final surface being created by the roller. Cultivator settings cannot be altered on the move, meaning that a universal depth has to be used for all the soil types across the field. While high horsepower tractors have enabled this approach, it is at a cost to the soil structure and the diesel consumed.
It is well understood that heavy clay soils require more energy to cultivate than sandy soils due to their natural ability to hold moisture. When cultivating at low moisture levels, soil is brittle and falls in a crescent shape in front of the tine, but as soil moisture increases, the soil turns from being brittle to plastic and smears around the tine. It is this fundamental change in the physical soil property which dramatically increases the draft requirement of cultivation, because the energy which was being transmitted throughout the dry soil profile is now being absorbed by the moist plastic soil.
By digitally mapping soil variability using SOYLscan, growers can now use the conductivity maps produced for variable depth cultivation with Autodepth. David Whattoff, SOYL's research and development manager, explains the difference Autodepth makes, “using a simple in-field assessment in the heaviest and lightest parts of the field, an optimum cultivation depth can be determined and combined with the EC maps, an accurate cultivation plan can be created for the whole field.
"The working depth of Autodepth’s subsoiling leg can then be altered accordingly, from a depth of up to 300mm to being completely out of work. It only works at depth where necessary, which not only saves fuel, but assists with weed control as it avoids mixing soil layers together, which means black-grass seeds, for example, are kept on the surface where they are easier to control when they germinate.”
The SOYL AutoDepth controller can be retrofitted to most hydraulically controlled cultivators and comes as standard on Cultivating Solutions’ 6m Titan.
3. Use data to its full potential
As data becomes increasingly important to growers, proper interpretation and storage could have a huge impact on farm businesses.
As CLAAS UK’s official precision farming partner, SOYL offers training and support to growers using yield mapping and it has been a busy season as new combines have arrived on farms across the UK. Use of telematics has clearly increased this year, with a definite focus on Automatic Data Process Interpretation (APDI), which allows complete remote data recording via the Farm Management feature within the telematics website. While this is a CLAAS supported product, SOYL has been pivotal in providing GPS datasets for a number of growers; once recorded, data is then interpreted using CLAAS Agromap or Farmade GateKeeper.
While measures are in place to record this yield data, its interpretation is sometimes overlooked. Your local SOYL area manager can discuss results and how they should inform future decisions. Data can also be uploaded into MySOYL, where performance trends can be viewed easily.
4. Meet Rebecca Tickle
In a new section of the SOYL newsletter, we will introduce key members of the SOYL team that growers may have spoken to by telephone but never met.
If you have ever ordered nutrient sampling, SOYLseed or deep core nitrogen, your order is likely to have started out with Rebecca Tickle, logistics co-ordinator at SOYL’s head office:
"My day to day job entails making sure all of the SOYL employees and contractors complete nutrient sampling and scanning to suit customer needs, namely for the nutrient management and SOYLseed services. Each day, I prioritise orders that need completing quickly because fertiliser or muck is due to be spread, ploughing is about to go ahead or to meet other customer needs. Carefully collating farm and field information for each order ensures the team of 40+ field operatives can work efficiently, making the most of every dry day.
Throughout the season, urgent jobs crop up that need me to assess our resources and react quickly; we will always do our best to get a sampler or scanner to customers as soon as possible. Another challenge I face is the great British weather! With the ever changing climate and rain, it often makes it difficult for samplers or scanners to travel on the land when they need to, so changing their plans often happens last minute.
In the quieter periods of the growing season, we work on improving our systems. We have recently developed bespoke software for field operators which we can use to download GPS data and field information from samplers the same day via wireless technology, improving turnaround times for customer mapping.
Health and safety is a number one priority for SOYL. The team ensures that all of the field operatives follow SOYL’s health and safety guidelines on farm and has a regular schedule of monitoring, reviewing and tracking for the field-based team.
If I can help with any of your SOYL sampling or scanning needs in the future, please give me a call.”
Don’t forget you can follow us on Twitter @SOYLprecision for regular updates on soils, nutrients, machinery and GPS.