SOYL Newsletter November 2015

1. Trials results prove increased yields with variable rate seed

SOYL trials have again evidenced the positive effect of precision techniques on yields. Every year, SOYL runs a series of trials to investigate the benefits of variable rate techniques over the standard flat rate approach. Each trial is designed and completed on existing customer farms to ensure results are representative of best farming practice. Analysis can then be completed post harvest using GPS yield mapping to compare crop performance between the two treatment methods.

The main focus for 2015 trials was on the yield benefit from using variable rate drilling methods, which match seed rates to different soil types across a field to achieve an even canopy. To understand whether this produces an improvement in crop performance, flat rate control strips are inserted into a number of variable rate seed plans. After harvest, the yield achieved in each section is analysed and compared.

The graph below shows results for a wheat trial based in the South of England. Variable rate drilling techniques on these fields created a yield benefit of 3.5%, equating to a monetary gain of £39.55/ha.

enews Nov15 VR seed graph1Alongside our own trials, SOYL supports and encourages growers to design and complete their own investigations. This enables growers to visually assess the benefits of variable rate techniques on their own farm. The graph below represents a wheat trial designed by a customer using GateKeeper.

enews Nov15 VR seed graph2Post harvest analysis revealed the following results for the areas drilled variably:

• Manor Field: 2.2% yield increase equating to a monetary benefit of £24.86/ha.

• Top Field: 4% yield increase equating to a monetary benefit of £45.20/ha.

To find out more about how to boost your own yields with variable rate techniques, or to learn more about SOYL's trials, please contact SOYL on 01635 204190.

2. Expert advice and technology training on offer at SOYL Academy

Tenews Nov15 SOYL Academyhis winter, growers are invited to attend the first ever SOYL Academy, a programme of discussion lead meetings, operator training days and summer field events. These sessions are an opportunity for interactive training on the latest tools and services developed by SOYL, as well as to share best practice and discuss challenges and successes within a forum environment.

Topics on the agenda include:

  • Making the most of apps and web tools, including interactive demonstrations
  • Electronic record keeping with MySOYL and GateKeeper
  • Variable seed rate best practice, trials results and on farm successes
  • Soil health – the impact of cover crops on nutrition and managing organic matter
  • Strategies for improving yield and protein through improved nitrogen management
  • How to analyse multiple years of precision data and the benefits of doing so.
SOYL experts will also be available to answer questions and discuss areas of special interest.

The events began this month and will run until the middle of March at 26 locations across England and Scotland. Each session begins at 9.30am and concludes at 12.30pm with a light lunch. Full details can be found on SOYL's events page. Forthcoming workshops include:

  • Andover – 1st December
  • Kenilworth – 3rd December
  • Haddington – 10th December
  • Bury St Edmunds – 15th December
  • Wincanton – 17th December
To find your closest workshop and book your free place, please call the SOYL office on 01635 204190 or email your details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

3. Start planning for variable rate nitrogen applications

enews Nov15 VRN mapsNitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for achieving maximum economic yield from arable crops. Using satellite imagery, SOYLsense can monitor and manage variation in crop biomass with the use of variable rate nitrogen applications. Agronomic models are then used to convert this imagery into a nitrogen plan suitable for the growth stage of the crop. Benefits of this approach include:

• Reduced variation in grain quality
• Increased yields of up to 3%
• Ability to monitor 100% of the field
• Reduced lodging and disease pressure.

The SOYLsense variable rate nitrogen service is managed through a website which gives growers full control of their nitrogen plans. A dedicated SOYLsense team is also available to create recommendations and offer support and advice where needed.

The first satellite image will be available at the end of January ready for the first applications on winter oilseed rape. Growers planning to use this service in spring should send their 2016 cropping information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

To learn more about how variable rate nitrogen applications could benefit your farm, contact the SOYLsense team on 01635 204198.

4. Meet Andy Grant

enews Nov15 Andy Grant"I joined SOYL's hardware support team earlier this year as a technical support officer and am often the first port of call for growers when issues occur with their hardware. With previous farming experience, I know how important it is to push on when the weather is good, so finding a fast and effective solution is my top priority. When a grower calls with a problem, I work with them to understand what has happened and often the situation is resolved during the same phone call.

My day to day role is varied as so many different control boxes are in use on farm. We have several of them in the office to test that our variable rate files are working correctly, and they're helpful for visualising what the grower can see during support calls too.

I also provide technical help for colleagues, from assisting our area managers with compatibility issues to supporting our 50 strong team of soil samplers using our own bespoke sampling kit. They are the first part of the recommendation process and have a fairly small window to collect soil samples, so keeping them up and running with the correct hardware is vital.

Speaking with growers and working with emerging technology makes my role varied, interesting and enjoyable. With new ideas and techniques to improve farming processes always on the horizon too, I find working in agriculture very exciting."

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

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