SOYL Newsletter February 2016

1. Canopy management challenges after unusual weather patterns

enews Feb16 canopy managementThe unusual wet, warm weather over autumn and winter could have implications for crops and especially for canopy management. The mild autumn has meant that soil temperatures have been high and nitrogen supply for crop growth has therefore been maintained throughout this period. Subsequently in many areas, particularly in early drilled crops, some canopies are well advanced and will require careful management.

Early crop measurements by the SOYLsense in-field calibration team have shown oilseed rape crops between a Green Area Index (GAI) of 1.5 and 2.5. These crops will already have taken up over 75kg/ha N over the autumn and winter period. Some winter wheat crops have shown vigorous tillering and could have taken up 20 to 40kg/ha N. As long as these crops have not 'outgrown' the soil nitrogen supply, which is usually indicated by leaves turning light green or yellow or becoming limp, they will not require an early dose of nitrogen or higher rates of early nitrogen.

Excess rainfall this winter will also impact on crops. Rainfall has been extremely high with many intense rainfall events, leading to fields quickly reaching field capacity and becoming saturated with each subsequent rainfall. Many fields have had crops with their roots permanently sitting in water which can lead to poor root development. A combination of potentially high crop biomass with poor conditions for root development may increase the risk of lodging, making careful canopy management essential.

By using SOYLsense to assess the canopy of the crop, growers can check development at any stage in the season and make well informed decisions about their nitrogen management. For advice on managing crop canopies, whether behind or ahead of expectations, speak to your local SOYL contact or call 01635 204190.

2. First new season SOYLsense images now online

enews Feb16 SOYL Soylsense smMany crop canopies are thick and healthy coming out of winter and managing them carefully is going to be fundamental to crops achieving their potential. Most growers will be planning ahead for the first nitrogen dose in the coming weeks and it's important to make sure that the rate matches crop requirements.

Leaf Area Index (LAI) images help growers to identify the state of their crops' development and tailor their management plans accordingly, altering nitrogen timings and rates. High temperatures and rainfall during winter are likely to have caused high mineralisation and leaching of nitrogen from the soil, which are both heavily affected by soil type. This means that a variable approach to nitrogen management is going to be crucial this season to account for different plant performance across the field.

The first Leaf Area Index (LAI) image is now live on the new SOYLsense website. The website makes viewing imagery simple and supported by advice from the SOYLsense variable rate nitrogen team, it helps growers to get the most from their nitrogen applications.

The SOYLsense team is currently setting up accounts for the coming season. Any cropping plans that have not yet been submitted by existing SOYLsense customers should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To find out more about SOYLsense and how it can benefit your farm, please contact your local area manager or call 01635 204190

3. Check establishment rates with a free SOYL quadrat

enews Feb16 SOYL Quadrat smQuadrats are a useful tool for carrying out plant counts and growers using SOYL’s variable rate drilling system, SOYLseed, can now request a free SOYL quadrat.

Fields often have multiple areas of varying soil type which provide different levels of seedbed quality when it comes to drilling. To address this, variable rate seeding uses different seed rates to even out establishment across the field, since an even crop is always easier to manage to its full potential.

Using the SOYL quadrat will help growers to conduct plant counts on fields that have been variable rate drilled, to understand how the crop has been affected as a result and to identify where the existing establishment estimates can be fine tuned further to give even better results.

Plant count figures can be discussed with your local SOYL contact to inform drilling decisions and get even more from SOYLseed. To request your free SOYL quadrat or find out more about SOYLseed, please contact the SOYL office on 01635 204190 or speak to your local SOYL contact.

4. Meet Sarah Brooks

enews Feb16 Sarah Brooks"I started working at SOYL as a technical assistant almost a year ago, so have almost experienced a full year of the different seasonal rushes associated with agriculture. My role is a unique one as I spend half of my year supporting the SOYLseed department during the summer and into the busy autumn drilling period, before joining the SOYLsense team to help prepare for the season ahead and create variable rate nitrogen recommendations during spring.

SOYLseed was my first experience of SOYL and it has been quite the learning curve. Predominantly we create variable seed rate requests and process soil type data from our samplers out in the field. We also work closely with the science and logistics teams here in the office to make sure everything is accurate and runs smoothly. I'm particularly interested in the science behind our work, so it's great to see how we identify environmental variation, analyse the effect this has on crops and then innovate strategies and new technologies to help mitigate this.

At the moment, I'm with the SOYLsense team setting up the remainder of the customer accounts, sending out login details for the hotly anticipated new website and producing nitrogen recommendations for the early birds out there. When the weather improves, requests will increase rapidly; we've already been briefed to bring our sleeping bags in to the office in preparation! It's a busy time of year but I have no doubt that the camaraderie will keep us going; the best thing about SOYL is that, whether we are in the office, out in the field or with customers, everyone collaborates to get the job done to a high standard. A lot of companies talk about focusing on customer service, but often the support can stop once the job has been done. It was clear to me when I started with SOYL that providing great customer service isn't just an objective here but a culture, and everyone strives for that."

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

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