SOYL newsletter March 2016
1. SOYL Academy success
After 32 events held across England and Scotland, SOYL's Academy sessions for this winter are now complete. The sessions provided an opportunity for interactive training on the latest tools and services developed by SOYL, as well as a forum to share best practice and discuss challenges and successes.
Developed following growers' feedback on our previous Winter Workshops, the events were held from Dingwall to Southampton and focused on a more informal, interactive approach for a maximum of 20 people per session. The sessions were well received and demand was so high that additional dates were added to the original schedule.
Those attending engaged in lively debate with other local growers as well as SOYL's experts as they learned how to get more out of precision techniques for their businesses. The agenda included MySOYL, the new SOYLsense website and the iSOYL app and growers were able to use iPads to explore the functionality of these tools, completing interactive exercises focusing on yield data, nitrogen management, and how to produce variable rate files, send them to application equipment and then send the 'As Applied' data back again in real time.
These events form part of the wider SOYL Academy programme, which includes operator training days and summer field events as well as discussion lead meetings. Check SOYL's website and Twitter feed for annoucements of future events.
2. Confirm seed rates in preparation for spring drilling
Spring drilling is now firmly on the agenda and growers with existing data can boost their chances of crop success by adjusting their establishment data using MySOYL.
SOYL's web based business management tool can quickly and easily create different establishment scenarios, for example:
- Alter establishment figures in existing zones to reflect different growing conditions or data collected from winter crop plant counts using the SOYL quadrat
- Create zones with lower establishment figures in areas bordering woods or around copses in the field which might be suffering from rabbit damage
- Build custom black-grass zones to increase crop coverage in vulnerable areas.
By selecting a field on the MySOYL map, growers can view the existing default map which can be copied and adjusted, or create a brand new set of establishment zones.
Good preparation leads to good results and spring is also the ideal time to gather field data in preparation for variable rate drilling this autumn. Once collected and collated, the data can be made available to view on MySOYL, allowing establishment maps to be finetuned and seed requirements estimated with the seed rate calculator well in advance of the autumn drilling campaign.
New SOYLseed customers can book work now and pay in spring 2017. For more information on SOYLseed or to make a booking, please speak to your local SOYL contact or call 01635 204190.
3. Meet maize nutrition needs to maximise yields
With maize planting just around the corner, it's important to remember that this high yielding crop will remove large amounts of nutrients from the soil.
As maize is often grown in areas designated for organic manure applications, it can sometimes be forgotten when it comes to P and K applications. While organic manure does contain substantial nutritional value which must be taken into account, maize requirements will almost certainly not be fulfilled by this alone. Additional fertiliser will be needed and detailed soil sampling can pick up variation that wasn't previously noticeable, giving growers an accurate map and true starting point from which to plan fertiliser applications.
Once maize has been successfully established, yield potential is huge; 65t/ha (20t/ha of dry matter) is commonplace in modern varieties. The crop has a relatively short growing period and with enormous amounts of nutrients removed rapidly from the soil for crop growth, it’s important that sufficient reserves of these nutrients are freely available in the soil to meet the peak demand period of May to August and enable optimum yields.
Phosphate is required particularly by the growing tips of the plant, hence its importance for root growth and establishment. Any shortage, especially in the early stages, reduces root growth and nutrient uptake which can adversely affect the crop's growth for the rest of the season.
Sufficient potash must be in place to meet crop needs of approximately 8 kg/ha K2O per day during the peak requirement period. Unless soil indices are comfortably at target index, removal from the soil must be replaced. Where soil indices are very low, magnesium application will also be required.
The table below demonstrates the effect of yield on P and K removal.
||Phosphate (P205) kg/ha
||Potash (K2O) kg/ha
Points to remember:
- Keep soil sampling results up to date to help make accurate decisions
- Be realistic about target yields and crop potential
- Work out crop requirements, factoring in organic manure applications and soil indices
- Apply starter fertiliser at drilling or work into the seedbed
- If P and K removed from the soil is not replaced, soil indices will decrease.
4. Meet Jonathan Down
"Growing up on an active dairy farm in mid Devon, agriculture was always going to play a large part in my upbringing. Working during the weekends and after school gave me a practical insight into farming and the rewards it can bring.
I've been a member of the PK recommendations team at SOYL since May 2014, providing N, P and K recommendations to growers across the country all year round. Every day provides its own unique obstacles in what can be a hectic environment, especially during dry weather when application conditions are ideal, but this keeps things busy and interesting and the team thrives on it.
As well as providing P and K recommendations, I'm heavily involved in processing the satellite imagery used to create variable rate nitrogen plans for our SOYLsense service. Working in the two different departments has considerably increased my knowledge of the arable sector. I thoroughly enjoy the blend of technology and science that SOYL revolves around too, making practical use of facts and data to help growers boost their business long term.
Outside of the day job I play for Chinnor Rugby Club and follow the exploits of the Exeter Chiefs. Other interests include skiing during the winter months and partaking in the occasional half marathon."
Don’t forget you can follow us on Twitter @SOYLprecision for regular updates on soils, nutrients, machinery and GPS.