Page 1

Talking Agronomy

Meet our two new columnists

Pages 20 and 22 October 2019

Volume 41 Issue 10

TECHNICAL CropTec Show seminar programme announced Pages 38-39

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Small steps today, big rewards tomorrow. Autumn


MACHINERY Preparing the combine for winter storage Pages 46-48

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Making the most of digestate Pages 56-57

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In this issue of


World agriculture

8-10 Canadian exports at the centre of a political storm How international trade tensions are affecting Canada’s growers

Comment 12

Politics Watch What next for the Agriculture Bill, asks Abi Kay 14-17 Talking Arable Post-harvest views from our farmer columnists 20-23 Talking Agronomy We welcome two new contributors as the new season gets underway 24 Talking Roots A start has been made on the sugar beet harvest and early yields are good 61 Talking Policy Planting an oilseed rape crop and crossing your fingers cannot be acceptable


26-27 The ‘new normal’ for black-grass control Suffolk farm manager Edward Vipond shares his black-grass control journey 28-29 Optimising AD plant performance How to harness the most energy from feedstocks 36-37 Advice for better agchem storage How to make sure your spray store is up to standard 38-39 Spotlight on the CropTec Show seminars A first sight of the seminar programme at this year’s event

Pulse crops

30-31 Meat-free meals give pulse growers a boost How pea and bean growers could benefit from the boom in plant-based diets 32-33 New bean varieties helping overcome anti-nutritional factors The introduction of low vicine beans could open up new markets 34-35 Beating beetle damage in beans Latest developments in the battle against bruchid


Machinery 52

40-43 Nozzle control with pulse width modulation A look at some of the latest PWM systems on offer from manufacturers 46-48 Putting the combine to bed Top tips for putting the combine away this autumn 49-51 A grain store fit for the future How one Wiltshire farming business relocated its grain storage operations 52-54 Highlights from Tillage Live Two new tine cultivators were among the machines in action in Northamptonshire


56-57 Making the most of digestate Latest findings from the Innovative Farmers digestate field lab

Arable marketplace

58-59 BYDV resistance now available in the UK The first time a winter wheat variety for the UK market features the trait

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30 Focus on pulses

Changing markets What the trend for meat-free eating means for UK growers, plus a look at the new bean varieties which promise better nutritional qualities without a yield penalty

40 Spray application

Nozzle control How pulse width modulation can bring cost savings and better spray targeting

46 Combines

Putting the combine to bed We ask an expert how to keep the combine in tiptop condition over winter


56 R&D

Crop nutrition and soil health A group of East Anglian farmers is running trials to assess the value of digestate

58 New technology

Plant breeding A BYDV resistance gene has been harnessed in a new wheat variety for the UK

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a word from the


Contacts Editor Teresa Rush 01787 282 822 Senior Arable Specialist Marianne Curtis 07815 003 236 Arable Technical Specialist Alice Dyer 07966 445 458 Machinery Editor James Rickard 01772 799 496 Production Editor Rik Magliola 01772 799 456 Picture Editor Theresa Eveson  01772 799 445 Group Head of Content Emma Penny 01772 799 401 Account Manager Jane Newton 01948 780 783 Account Manager Mark Jackson 01322 449 624 Account Manager Stuart Boydell 07815 003 227 Head of Commercial Solutions Mike Hartley 01772 799 532 Advertising Production Justine Sumner 01772 799 437 For circulation queries, to request a copy or subscribe, please contact Emma Williamson 01772 799 452 Subscriptions Contact: 03303 330 056


t the time of writing the Agriculture Bill has been rescued from oblivion, although this might yet prove to be a temporary state of affairs. In Westminster the political storm continues to rage around the prorogation of Parliament on September 9 and the Supreme Court’s subsequent ruling that it was ‘unlawful, null and of no effect’. We are in unknown territory but for the time being the months of lobbying, scrutiny and occasional scuffles have not been in vain. Meanwhile, on-farm, the new season is getting underway. Rain finally arrived in the South and East, and soil conditions are the better for it. Stubbles have greened up, improving prospects for weed control, and those of you lifting root crops will no doubt have found the going easier. Cabbage stem flea beetle has been an unwelcome presence for yet another season and sadly, once again, there will be significant crop losses as a result of its activity. This month we welcome two new Talking Agronomy contributors to Arable Farming, and it comes as no surprise to read of the challenges they and their growers are facing with oilseed rape establishment. While improvement in the OSR price may have persuaded some to stick with the crop for harvest 2020, sugar beet growers could well take a different view as they consider their options for the new season. With a one-year sugar beet contract price on offer of £19.60/tonne with no crown tare reduction, cost of production figures are no doubt being scrutinised carefully before a decision to grow is made. Advisers are already warning of the risk of loss-making crops. There may be no such thing as the perfect break crop, but developing markets resulting from

changing diets and plant breeding advances could provide new opportunities. Find out more in our focus on pulse crops feature in this issue. And, with harvest done, we take a look at farm storage, from the challenges of relocating and redesigning grain storage, to putting one of the most expensive pieces of machinery on-farm – the combine – safely to bed for the winter (see p46). We have also got some expert advice on best practice management for farm agchem stores. Also in this issue, we have news of the launch of the first UK winter wheat variety with BYDV resistance, plus a look at the recently announced CropTec Show seminar programme; in my view it is one of the strongest yet.


© AgriBriefing 2019 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The contents of Arable Farming are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems. ISSN 0269-6797

Arable Farming, AgriBriefing, Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park, Caxton Road, Preston, Lancashire PR2 9NZ November 27-28, 2019

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Origination by Farmers Guardian, AgriBriefing, Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park, Caxton Road, Preston, Lancashire, PR2 9NZ. Printed by Precision Colour Printing, Halesfield 1, Stirchley, Telford TF7 4QQ. No responsibility can be accepted by Arable Farming for opinions expressed by contributors.

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24/09/2019 11/09/2019 15:52 09:50

BUSINESS FEATURE On a recent trip to Canada, Ben Briggs gained an insight into Ontario’s grain and oilseeds


Canadian soyabean expo rt


hese are strange times for world trade. Fractious relations between the USA and China have been well documented, with US President Donald Trump’s provocative use of social media enflaming an already tense situation. But the United States is not the only North American country to find itself at loggerheads with China and, therefore, paying the price for the Asian superpower’s reluctance to trade. Canada, whose President Justin Trudeau is the liberal ying to Mr Trump’s populist yang, has become embroiled in its own spat with China. Canada’s relationship with China is fraught due to its arrest of Chinese telecoms executive Meng Wanzhou, and China’s subsequent detention of two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, allegedly for national security reasons. With diplomatic relations taking a turn for the worse following Ms Meng’s arrest last December, the potential implications for Canada’s farmers when it comes to export prospects this harvest could be dire. With more than 50% of the Canadian soyabean crop coming out of the province of Ontario, in eastern Canada, grains and oilseeds leaders in that region said the ongoing trade spat, which meant

China had largely exited the market for some Chinese products as a result of the clash over Ms Meng, was causing real concern. Prices And it is clear why it would cause concern. With almost all of last year’s exportable soyabean crop, which is about 59% of the total domestic crop, going to China (see Ontario soyabean exports table, below), future prices for the crop are uncertain. Nicole McKellar, market development manager at Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), a levy board and lobbying organisation funded by Ontario’s 28,000 grain producers, claimed markets were being watched closely.

She said: “Ontario grain and oilseeds have been directly impacted by the ongoing disputes with China. “In the 2018/2019 marketing year, Ontario exported 1.4 million metric tonnes of soyabeans to China. This is the largest volume of soyabeans Ontario has ever exported. “Currently, Ontario soyabeans are being unofficially shut out of China due to increases in inspections and waiting times at ports. It has forced exporters to abandon China and look to other markets due to the increased risk. “We are [weeks] away from entering our most critical period for exports and without a resolution with China we have the

Ontario commodity soyabean exports: Top seven countries 2015/2016 1 China 408 2 Italy 157 3 Germany 63 4 Spain 0 5 Netherlands 252 6 Belgium 158 7 France 144 TOTAL EXPORTS 1,355 *Last data as of May 2019

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2016/2017 510 161 161 85 263 79 81 1,377

Values given in (1,000mt)

2017/2018 532 307 170 126 96 16 0 1,375

2018/2019* 1,476 0 0 0 0 65 0 1,564

potential to enter into a severe market crisis which would result in decreased pricing for farmers and lost market opportunities.” With so much weighing on Chinese demand and previously strategic European markets struggling to prop up the market, the scenario facing farmers in the region is a worrying one as harvest starts to roll.

Ontario rThe region’s capital is Toronto and sits on the banks of Lake Ontario, one of the five ‘great lakes’ rThe other great lakes – Michigan, Superior, Huron and Erie – are home to one-fifth of the world’s fresh water rOntario is home to about 14 million people and is the most populous province in a country of little more than 36m people rGrain Farmers of Ontario is funded by 28,000 growers and has a budget of CAN$10m (£6m) every year rFor more information, go to

Source: Statistics Canada and the Canadian Grain Commission

OCTOBER 2019 24/09/2019 16:42


FEATURE BUSINESS industry and how it was coping in an age of disruptive global trade and polarised politics.

o rts hit by political storm

Ms McKellar adds: “The export market is incredibly important for Ontario grains and oilseeds. As

Ontario’s crops JGFO represents growers of barley, maize, soyabeans, oats, and wheat covering 2.5 million hectares. The breakdown is as follows: rBarley: 111,900 tonnes, 36,921ha and 1,746 farmers rMaize: 8.63mt, 868,321ha and 19,765 farmers rOats: 72,300t, 30,513ha and 1,272 farmers rSoyabeans: 3.8mt, 1.2mha and 24,793 farmers rWheat: 2.4mt, 433,769ha and 17,681 farmers

production continues to increase year over year and our domestic markets become fairly saturated,

international trade is becoming even more important. “For soyabeans, [about] 60% of our production is exported. The growth of our sector is dependent on international market opportunities.” Success The growth of the soyabean market in Canada has been one of the success stories of recent times, explains GFO vice-president of strategic development, Crosby Devitt. “It started in Guelph [a city near Toronto] in the 1950s from the university [of Guelph]. The early 1990s saw a major breakthrough in shorter season soyabeans and this has proved hugely beneficial for growers.

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“We therefore want to build a business environment which creates success for our farmers. It is about having market access around the world for our members.” Across the cereals and oilseeds regime in Ontario, several crops have seen significant increases in yield as genetic modification (GM) technology took hold in the middle of the 1990s, with maize the big winner. With 76% of the soyabean crop using GM technology, the crop is split in two, with GM classed as ‘commodity’ and sent for use primarily in livestock feed. Food grade, or non GM, also has large Asian markets, particularly Japan and Vietnam, and is used in products for human

Canada’s soyabeans are being unofficially shut out of China, says Nicole McKellar.

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Ontario’s farmers are finding success in exporting corn.

consumption, such as tofu and other spreads (see Ontario food-grade soyabean exports table, right). Yet with China buying about 60% of globally traded supplies of soyabeans and Zhang Liwei, a senior analyst at the China National Grains and Oils Information Centre, recently suggesting they would find fourth-quarter stocks of soyabeans in South America, the trade headache could be compounded for Canada. Thankfully for Ontario farmers and the GFO, the picture when it comes to maize stocks is healthier. With the bulk of this crop also GM, the trade in Ontario has undergone a shift away from the US market, with greater quantities now heading across the Atlantic to Europe for livestock feed. Ireland has taken the mantle as the number one export destination, with 593,000t shipped there in the 2018/2019 season, while Spain and the UK have also seen

Ontario food-grade soyabean exports: Top seven countries

significant amounts arrive (see Ontario maize export table, below). Bulk With the bulk of Canadian wheat exports going to the US or Mexico, the shift when it comes to maize is unrelated to the presence of Mr Trump. Ms McKellar says: “The US is the single largest market for Canadian fresh fruit, fresh produce and greenhouse

Ontario maize exports: Top seven countries

vegetables. [About] 60% of production is exported to the US. “The UK is [also] an important export destination for Ontario grain. Logistically, it is one of the closest international markets outside of the US for Ontario grain to reach. To date for the 2018/2019 marketing year, Ontario has exported 223,000t of corn into the UK and this is the highest volume of exports we have seen to the UK. Values given in (1,000mt)

2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019* 1 Ireland 99 101 501 593 2 USA 1,004 703 393 37 3 Spain 175 87 231 220 4 Portugal 101 116 181 0 5 UK 69 59 125 185 6 Italy 71 0 88 0 7 Netherlands 110 58 23 19 TOTAL EXPORTS 1,629 1,164 1,543 1,053 *Last data as of May 2019 Source: Statistics Canada and the Canadian Grain Commission

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Values given in (1,000mt)

2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019* 1 Japan 232 216 192 137 2 Malaysia 119 138 122 37 3 Vietnam 91 107 114 51 4 US 73 53 43 33 5 China 9 61 18 137 6 Thailand 41 30 14 9 7 Taiwan 32 40 34 25 TOTAL EXPORTS 682 748 659 523 *Last data as of May 2019 Source: Statistics Canada and the Canadian Grain Commission “Currently, we do not export any soyabeans directly into the UK, however we do believe some are arriving there through transloading.” Dealing with the ebb and flow of world trade dynamics is a major task for organisations such as the GFO, given the sheer amount of products countries such as Canada have to export. Whereas for many European countries, such as the UK, exports are often about shipping the surplus from their shores, for the likes of Canada it is central to their whole marketing strategy. Talk of trade wars and posturing superpowers can sometimes seem unreal and part of the rolling cycle of news. Yet the challenge facing Canada’s farmers, and bodies such as the GFO, shows it is real and the need for them to be adaptable is paramount when it comes to seeking new trading partners.

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ABI Kay The Agriculture Bill may not be dead just yet


eptember has been a strange month. Early on, the industry paid its respects to the Agriculture Bill, which appeared to die an untimely death at the hands of Brexit. Farm leaders mourned the months of lobbying, careful scrutiny in Parliamentary committees and some scuffles between the UK and devolved Governments, which all seemed to be for nothing. The Bill had been waiting on the edge of a cliff since November last year, while the Government tried to pass the withdrawal agreement, but it was the Prime Minister who finally finished it off when he prorogued Parliament to begin a new session. As with all things Brexit though, there was an unexpected plot twist. In a shock decision towards the end of the month, the Supreme Court judges resurrected the legislation, Lazarus-like, with their declaration that the prorogation was illegal and, therefore, had not actually happened. But the Bill still won’t necessarily live happily ever after. The Government remains unlikely to move such a major piece of law through Parliament for fear it will be hijacked by Brexit opponents or inflict embarrassing defeats on Ministers. So it may be that fresh lobbying attempts to include guarantees in the Bill on everything from tenancy reform to cutting pesticide use


Don’t forget, we are still waiting to be asked for our views on delinked payments ABI KAY end up falling on deaf ears, until we finally get a General Election, at which point the legislation automatically falls again. Which brings me to another difficulty for Defra. If Ministers want to stick to the current timetable for phasing out the Basic Payment Scheme, due to start in 2021, they have got to get this legislation on the statute book by summer 2020 at the absolute latest, meaning an election could really throw a spanner in the works. Time We have already lost a year of transition time and adding a political campaign into the mix means even less opportunity for future consultation. Don’t forget, we are still waiting to be asked for our views on delinked payments and one-off lump sums of direct support, among other things. If the Conservatives win a majority in any future election it is likely something resembling the Agriculture Bill will be brought back from the dead for a second time. But that outcome is far from being a sure

thing, especially as we’re not going to go to the polls before the end of October. It is entirely conceivable that a new Labour Government, propped up by some kind of remain or second referendum coalition, could take the reins. In which case it is back to the drawing board. The Labour Party has given some hints about things it wants to major on, including food production, public health and agricultural workers’ rights, but we don’t know the details. Shadow Defra Secretary Sue Hayman has for some time now been promising to publish a Food Strategy, but that seems to have fallen into a black hole of its own. Whatever happens over the next few weeks and months it looks like this political volatility is here to stay for some time yet. Hold on to your hats.

About the author rAbi Kay is chief reporter for Arable Farming’s sister publication Farmers Guardian.


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24/09/2019 01/04/2019 15:55 14:43

IAN Matts Ian Matts is a partner in his family farm, an independent agronomist at BFC Agronomy, and managing director at Brixworth Farming, a joint venture farming business in Northamptonshire.


Farm facts rBrixworth Farming is a joint venture farm business in Northamptonshire rCropping includes wheat, barley, winter oilseed rape and winter beans but the farm experiments with other crops. Cover crops and spring barley also feature in the rotation, primarily for black-grass control rSoils are variable, but predominantly consist of Hanslope and Denchworth series heavy clays with some Banbury series loams rAnnual average rainfall is close to 650mm

14 AF Oct p14 15 Matts RM MC TR.indd 2

arvest was all wrapped up in early September, the combines having flown through the winter beans in the last few days. However, there was a slight wait to finish the final field in order to catch the last of the canary seed on a sunny day. As anticipated, it has been a more challenging harvest than last year. It was not helped by the cropping or the weather in early August, but ran quite smoothly once it stopped raining. I am really pleased with how well the team worked and this is backed up by the data from telematics showing greater efficiency than last year, with more time spent actually harvesting, compared to turning on headlands, sitting idle and travelling between blocks. I was closely monitoring harvest progress from the start to identify the risk of getting behind. In early August I had to make the call to pull in some help to cut the spring barley as the wheat was late maturing and the forecast remained unsettled. Unfortunately, by the time the combine arrived on-farm the crop had begun to brackle. They had a difficult job trying to capture it, resulting in quite high losses, however it has all gone for malting, for what the premium is worth this year. The net margin of the crop looked a lot more

attractive last year with the prices just shy of £200/ tonne and a healthy premium. Sadly with such a large national crop and good quality across the board, that was never going to be the case this year. I have gone through the detail from telematics with the team to get their feedback on how harvest went from their perspective while it is still fresh in the memory. I will also meet with the hauliers to do similar. Logistics Harvest logistics generally worked well this year, with the second year of a dedicated team of hauliers clearly appreciating what we are trying to achieve and seemingly very happy to work with us. I still don’t really understand the regulations on driver hours, but there weren’t many occasions where they ran out of hours too early. Cultivations for next year’s crops are nearing completion. These have ranged from nothing where soils are in a good state and we intend to direct drill; shallow cultivations where sewage sludge or farmyard manures have been applied to incorporate it; and deeper cultivations for beans or where we are aiming for the latest wheat drilling. We have also chosen to plough a few fields where black-grass has been building. The plan is to make a start drilling winter barley

Data from telematics showed greater efficiency than last year, with more time spent harvesting.

OCTOBER 2019 26/09/2019 15:25

TALKING ARABLE My aim for cereal and bean drilling this year is to apply a small amount of phosphate along with the seed to help with root development in autumn next week (w/c September 30), following some much needed rain that is on the forecast. Despite getting more than 120mm of rain in the first couple of weeks of harvest, the lack of rain since has meant soils are getting quite dry again. Germination Digging down, there is still a bit of moisture in the profile, but this could easily be lost through drilling, so we are going to need some more soon to allow rapid germination of cereal crops and good efficacy from the pre-ems. My aim for cereal and bean drilling this year is to apply a small amount of phosphate with the seed to help with root development in autumn. This, combined with the use of sewage sludge and DAP for the OSRshould provide close to the off-take requirement across the rotation. This should then allow just the low spots to be topped up when we are a bit less pushed for time.


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15 26/09/2019 15:26

NEIL MacLeod Neil MacLeod is farm manager of Southesk Farms, a 1,615-hectare farming and contracting business owned by the Duke of Fife. He has recently been experimenting with establishment techniques to boost crop performance.

The biggest change to our workload this autumn is the shift from preemergence to early postemergence herbicide on our early wheats Farm facts rSouthesk Farms is based in Farnell, Angus, on the east coast of Scotland and is owned by the Duke of Fife r1,615 hectares of owned and tenanted land supporting arable, potatoes, soft fruit, environmental stewardship and deer enterprises rVariable soils from sands through to silty clay as low as six metres above sea level rCropping consists of feed wheats, malting and feed barley, oilseed rape, milling oats, vining peas and potatoes rAnnual rainfall is 625mm

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f someone had told me a month ago that we would finish harvest on September 17, then quite frankly, I wouldn’t have believed them. But what a difference a month can make at this time of year, having gone from exceptionally wet conditions to slightly more seasonal as the weeks have progressed. This harvest was my 10th at Southesk and although it was intense in terms of workload, it has delivered a nice anniversary, with robust yields across most crops. Winter wheats have averaged 9.8 tonnes per hectare, winter oats 8.1t/ha, winter barley 9t/ha, oilseed rape 4.2t/ha, and spring malting barley 6t/ha. On the plus side, the grain stores are full, with most grain forward sold at good prices and, importantly, spring barley has achieved malting specification. However, extra unsold crop has been immediately sold into a falling market and with variable grain quality across all crops, there will be further deductions to follow. Add to this our increased fixed costs for grain drying and additional combine hire and this leads me to hope the phrase ‘yield is king’ will still pay off.

Our thoughts have now turned to autumn crop establishment, however, we are still struggling to get any sort of momentum going. Our aim up here is to basically start sowing when the combines start rolling, and to lose three weeks like we did in August – where ground conditions are saturated, it’s just time you never get back. Deadline We missed our end of August deadline for 115ha of OSR establishment, instead finishing on September 8. That week lost will make a massive difference to the size of the plant going into winter, made worse by the fact it was established in a way which goes against practically everything I believe in for effective OSR establishment. Due to the conditions, it was sown on a different farm than it should have been, into a trashy seedbed after oats with significant amounts of chopped straw to deal with. There was no DAP fertiliser applied with the seed because our direct drill couldn’t cope with the trash, so we had to pull the big drill out just to

Winter wheat and barley drilling is well underway but there is still some difficult heavy land to turn round.

OCTOBER 2019 27/09/2019 11:26




get the crop in. And you will never guess what – it has barely had a rain on it since it was sown and the seedbed has now gone brick hard, with moisture and the broadcast DAP unable to penetrate through to the developing root. And I almost forgot, we have had to make a night-time application of insecticide for flea beetle for the second year in a row. Yes, it appears the little blighters are on their way north after all. Elsewhere, we have established 130ha of winter wheat and 90ha of winter barley but still have some difficult heavy farms to turn around before we tackle potato land. The biggest change to our workload this autumn is the shift from pre-emergence to early post-emergence herbicide on our early wheats. Sown after vining peas and OSR, we would usually have used Redigo Deter (clothianidin) seed dressing for barley

yellow dwarf virus control and prevention of seed hollowing by slugs. Based on our climate, the six week aphid cover which Redigo Deter gave us meant we never had to return with a follow-up insecticide, which basically meant that in terms of spray, once the pre-emergence was applied, the gate was shut for winter. Target species Now we are broadcasting slug pellets off the back of the Cambridge rolls and will apply our pre-emergence of pendimethalin and flufenacet with an aphicide early post-emergence, an insecticide which will hopefully kill the target species but will unfortunately also kill off some non-target as well. Like flea beetle control in OSR, we have lost underground control of selected pests and are now forced to apply control through the sprayer. How long will it be until our selected targets become resistant to our efforts?

OCTOBER 2019 AF OCT p16 17 TA Neil RM TR MC.indd 3


• Highest yielding winter bean on the Recommended List • Suitable for human consumption


17 26/09/2019 15:28


GRIMME HELPING TACKLE GROWER DIQUAT DESICCATION DILEMMA While the nation’s farmers face the impending ban on diquat, German manufacturer Grimme has relaunched its high-output KS600 haulm topper, as UK potato growers search for new methods of pre-harvest crop canopy desiccation. Simon Henley reports.


he herbicide diquat dibromide needs no introduction. Diquat is a broad-spectrum contact herbicide which has been an essential element in popular desiccants including Reglone. Since the ban on sulphuric acid in 2009, diquat has become arguably the most effective and reliable method for ‘burning-off’ potato canopies prior to harvesting. But not any longer. Last year, the European Commission made the decision not to renew an approval for the use of diquat within the European Union. It was concluded all products containing the chemical needed to be withdrawn by May 4, 2019, with a suggested use-up period ending on February 4, 2020. In the scheme of things, the diquat ban comes as no surprise. Furthermore, while it may be conceived by some growers as a major inconvenience, the news of its loss has

actually forced the UK potato industry to think outside the box and develop new methods of desiccation. Trials conducted by AHDB, under what it calls the Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm Programme, have determined specific blends of desiccants, such as Spotlight Plus and Gozai, can offer about 60 per cent of the desiccation power of diquat when combined with a pre-spray flail treatment.

Desiccant The key to the success of using a desiccant such as Spotlight Plus, is to ensure the crop foliage is at its most vulnerable prior to the application of the herbicide. To achieve this, the crop must first be topped using a flail when the foliage is green, about three weeks prior to harvesting. The removal of potato haulm requires a purpose-built flail topper, and one of the most well-developed on the UK market today is the Grimme KS600. The KS600 was originally

The KS600 features press wheels mounted behind the machine to close any cracks in the top of the row. Pressure is applied to the non-inflated flotation tyres by adding weights (inset).


designed for Grimme by the founder of Sumo, Shaun Wealleans. Developed for large potato growers and contractors, it initially made its debut in 2000 and quickly became a popular choice for growers throughout the eastern counties. Grimme UK East Yorkshire area sales manager, John Taylor says: “The original preproduction model and the first production KS600 we sold, are still on the same farm. “At one point these machines were topping 9,000 acres per season between them, and they are still going strong today.” In recent years, Grimme has taken a step back from selling haulm toppers. Yet with the impending loss of diquat, the company has relaunched the high-output KS600, as farmers seek alternative methods for desiccating their crops. “The heavy-duty design of the KS600 makes it the ideal machine for pre-desiccation green haulm topping applications,” adds Mr Taylor.

“The idea is the topper should be set up to leave 150mm200mm of stalk, so when the crop is lifted the haulm roller on the potato harvester can get purchase on the remaining crop stem.” The KS600 system is a six-row/three-bed design, which features a single front-linkage mounted topper and two rear toppers which are attached to a subframe mounted on the tractor’s rear linkage. During transport, the rear toppers are hydraulically folded upright like a set of mowers. “The front topper is designed so it is wider than the rear units,” says Mr Taylor. “The front unit flails the middle two rows passing under the tractor. However it also takes about 50 per cent of the


AF OCT p18 19 Grimme Approved RM TR.indd 2

27/09/2019 11:19


WERS’ A Grimme KS600 Specifications Height: 1.2 metres unfolded, 3.5m folded Working width: 6m (Six rows, three beds) Transport width: 2.9m

Weight: 1,195kg (front) 2,205kg (rear) Pto: 1,000rpm (front and rear) Power required: 170hp

The Grimme KS600 is a heavy-duty, six-row, three-bed haulm topper, capable of topping up to 100-acres/day. rows on either side, so the uncut stalks on the outside ridges don’t get pulled down by the tractor wheels. Stalks flattened by the wheels can’t be sucked up and presented to the rear toppers, which ultimately means they will remain uncut.” The Grimme KS600 flail rotors are made from heat-treated, seamless steel tubes, which are pressure cooled as the flail mounts are welded on, to prevent distortion. Balanced to rotate at 1,300rpm, the rotors are fitted with different sizes and lengths of flails which are contoured to match the shape of the rows in each bed. The flails fitted are suited to the farmer’s requirements, taking into account the number of rows in a bed and the size of each row.

Working on a 72-inch bed, there are commonly six flails required to clear the top of each row, however this may vary according to the type of planter being used. In keeping with the layout of the flails, each Grimme KS600 is equipped with a contoured shearbar which is matched to the length and shape of the flails fitted to each specific machine. As the haulm is chopped, it passes over the rotor onto two deflectors. The purpose of these is to guide the crop residue so it falls between the rows. Were it allowed to remain on top of the rows, the effectiveness of the desiccant, which is typically applied within seven to 10 days, would be compromised. The cutting height, is con-

trolled by either manually-adjusted depth wheels, using crank handles, or with an optional hydraulic adjustment system.

Linkage Topper bodies are suspended so the cutting height is constantly maintained while the topper follows the contours of the ground. On the rear toppers, the suspension is provided by a parallel linkage arrangement on the subframe, which uses coil springs to provide the necessary compression. As each row is topped, it is sealed using a floating press wheel. The press wheels, which are mounted behind the machine, are equipped with a flotation tyre which has a zero inflation pressure. The tyre is

used to gently close any cracks in the top of the row, which might expose tubers to sunlight and ultimately turn them green. “Once the crop has been topped cleanly, the chopped stalks are fully exposed,” says Mr Taylor. “This enables the Spotlight Plus to be fully absorbed by the plant, to produce the maximum desiccating effect possible. “The days of using a topper to remove desiccated haulm in front of the harvester are in the past. The versatility of the Grimme KS600 means we can provide potato growers with a viable alternative for haulm desiccation, using a well-proven machine which can be adapted to suit virtually any type of growing conditions.”

OCTOBER 2019 AF OCT p18 19 Grimme Approved RM TR.indd 3

19 27/09/2019 11:19


BEN Boothman In the North, delaying drilling means not drilling before mid-September


eptember was always known as the month for harvest festivals, symbolising the end of 12 months of hard work with all the produce safely gathered in store. For many, this is now the case, however, driving around, the odd darkened field of wheat is still holding on, awaiting its birthday. In Yorkshire we started summer in late June, closely followed by autumn in July, winter in August and a quite usual wet, dry, wet, dry September. I write this half way through the month so things could yet change again, with 22degC predicted at the weekend. The main topic on-farm now is oilseed rape. All discussions start with ‘shall we grow the crop’? This is closely followed by asking when should we sow it, then finally ‘how shall we establish it’? Several of my clients this year have had enough of the frustrations growing it. They were battle-hardened to pigeons and slugs, but the headaches experienced from flea beetle and

Agronomist facts JBen Boothman is an independent agronomist and member of the Arable Advisor Group and the Association of Independent Crop Consultants (AICC), covering Yorkshire and the North East. He is BASIS, FACTS and BETA qualified and studied for a degree in agriculture and crop management at Harper Adams University.

20 AF OCT p20 Boothman RM AD TR.indd 2

pollen beetle onslaughts were the deciding factor. However, the high prices and better than expected yields this year have lured many back. Establishment methods are tailored to reflect the common questions about what the cheapest and quickest way of establishing it is and how high a seed rate can be used to ensure there are enough plants to feed the flea beetle, yet still leaving enough for a crop. Conventional Many have opted to go down the conventional variety route and increase seed rates by up to 50%, while others have stuck to hybrid varieties, hoping their trademark vigour will help them get away early. Due to the late/wet harvest, drilling dates have been varied. There was a familiar pattern in that if it was not a combining day then we sowed OSR instead. Crops sown after winter barley in early August are approaching the four to five true leaf stage and safely past the flea beetle grazing risk. Unfortunately, larvae feeding damage is another hurdle to overcome, but with the much heralded ‘worst winter for 30 years’ looming, let’s hope larvae will not be an issue. Crops drilled in mid-August appear to be the most vulnerable to adult flea beetle grazing and much has already been said about flea beetle resistance to pyrethroids. So, what advice do you give clients? If placement fertiliser is not used then an early dose of nitrogen and phosphate is key to try and get these crops up and away from the pesky flea beetle. It is a brave

agronomist and farmer to do nothing in terms of an insecticide application but this is probably the correct course of action in many cases. Early established OSR crops bring their own challenges: early-emerging crops are likely to attract summer populations of aphids and early infections of turnip yellows virus can have significant yield effects, so early aphid monitoring is key. Pest threats are also having a knock-on effect in the choice of herbicide. Pre-emergence programmes are less commonly used, mainly due to the fact we want to see a crop before we invest further. An early post-emergence herbicide mix is now the favoured approach using metazachlor, dimethenamid and quinmerac combinations. I have listened to many of the sage-like gurus of the agricultural industry advising us to delay drilling and the longer the better. This will reduce black-grass populations, lessen the risk of barley yellow dwarf virus and reduce early disease pressure next spring. Unfortunately, this is not an option for many in the North and delaying means not drilling before mid-September. The answer to the issue of black-grass for us must be spring cropping and rotational change. Soil conditions at present are extremely good. There is plenty of moisture there for seeds to strike, yet not too much to cause a mess. I have my own test on determining soil condition. If I can play rugby with 21mm studs in without getting a blister or having to wash my boots at the end of the game then conditions are perfect.

OCTOBER 2019 26/09/2019 10:36

A breakthrough for OSR growers. Belkar


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Containing Arylex™ active, it allows a wide window of application from September right through to the end of December, as well as several flexible timing and rate options. So, this autumn you can now wait until your crop is established before investing in your weed control programme.

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24/09/2019 09/08/2019 15:56 09:24


JO Bell We are already on Plan B in some fields because of pressure from flea beetle


ust like the Ashes cricket, our harvest was stop-start, exasperating at times, hugely tense at others and mixed in its outcome. Our winter barleys delivered handsomely for the most part, although it took three PGRs to keep them standing, just. With the exception of crops on thinner ground where the rain came too late, the wheats were also encouragingly barn-filling, with decent quality. Our oilseed rape did as well as could be expected with the battering it took from flea beetle. And while tricky to combine in places, spring barleys justified their place for their performance as much as black-grass management. While frustrating for combining, the summer rain was appreciated by our potatoes and sugar beet. It has also given us the sort of soil moisture levels essential for good OSR establishment. The pressure from flea beetle – and slugs – has, however, been intense. So much so, we are already on Plan B in some fields. Starter fertiliser has

Agronomist facts JJo Bell is an Agrii agronomist covering Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. She has been an agronomist for 30 years and advises on all combinable crops and some roots crops. She is BASIS and FACTS qualified, and studied at Bishop Burton College.

22 AF Oct p22 Bell RM MC TR.indd 2

shown its value in helping crops cope with the early pressures, as have vigorous, fast-developing varieties and attention to detail in seedbed management, drilling depth and consolidation. We are seeing more damage if the soil is disturbed, even in last year’s OSR fields. Buckwheat companion cropping didn’t appear to help much at the start. But some useful differences are now beginning to become apparent where we are giving it a try. This is in line with the most recent Agrii trial work which suggests buckwheat’s main value lies in reducing larval damage. Together with the sort of cold winter the latest long-range forecast tells us we could be in for – any help here would be much appreciated. Concern As we move into October, getting our winter cereals away strongly is a key concern. Most of our seedbeds have been well set up and weatherproofed, with the silt pans which can cause us such problems pinpointed and broken up early. Despite all the digital technology available today, nothing beats digging down to see exactly what we have in the soil profile. September conditions may have been good, but we have kept the wheel clamps on the drills until now, mainly because three-quarters of our ground has significant black-grass problems. It requires no end of patience, but we won’t be starting wheat drilling here until the second half of the month. Ahead of this, we will concentrate on hybrid

and six-row barleys for the greater competitiveness they have shown in all my research colleagues’ Stow Longa work. As part of the flexibility we keep in our rotational planning, these are going in where black-grass levels are too high to risk a second wheat, but not high enough to demand spring cropping. As with the wheat, we will be moving as little soil as we can at drilling to wake-up the least amount of weed seed. Our wheat focus is on varieties the Agrii Advisory List rates as particularly competitive against grass-weeds and best suited to late drilling. In the past, we have increased seed rates to compensate for reduced tillering and maximise competitiveness, however higher seed rates may reduce plant populations in autumn, so we are basing ours carefully on well worked out establishment rates, taking into account variety and conditions, not to mention the new generation of nutritional seed dressings showing increased plant health and vigour. Later wheat drilling will help us stay on top of BYDV without Deter. Even so, we are keeping our guard up with the best all-round agronomy. This includes tried and tested nutrition, timely pyrethroid spraying using the BYDV Alert app and T Sum figures. As always, the best combination of active, formulation and adjuvant, and effective spray practice. And a last reminder to secure chlorothalonil for next spring, before the end of November.

OCTOBER 2019 26/09/2019 15:00


MADDY Vaughan BYDV poses real threat to the future of wheat production


fter writing this column for a year this will be my final article and it starts as my first one began; on the subject of flea beetle and the dry weather. It almost feels like 2019 oilseed rape establishment is a repeat of 2018. The crops drilled early which caught the moisture are now romping away and many have had the grass-weed herbicide Centurion Max (clethodim) applied for the ever-troublesome black-grass before the canopy closes over. At the other end of the spectrum, the typical August Bank Holiday drillings are suffering from very dry seedbeds and significant pressure from cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB). If there is one thing that farmers are noticing more and more, it is that OSR can leave an unacceptable level of black-grass lurking below the canopy, which will then rear its head again in the first wheat situation. On this note, it is also worth casting your mind back to the spring of this year when poor OSR crops failed to grow away due to high levels of CSFB

Agronomist facts JMaddy Vaughan is an agronomist with Indigro. Based in Northamptonshire, she advises clients growing cereals, oilseed rape, pulses, sugar beet and miscanthus. She is BASIS and FACTS qualified and holds a Masters degree in crop production from the University of Warwick.

larvae. I would urge growers to remember that a poor-looking crop going into the autumn/ winter will not necessarily recover to perform well and, in addition, could lead to knock-on weed issues in the following wheat crop. On the cereals front, my growers had mostly finished harvest by the end of the first week of September and wheat yields were generally very pleasing with some crops hitting 12 tonnes/hectare. Quality was mostly good, but it is noticeable now going around farms which varieties shed before the combines were able to arrive due to catchy weather conditions. This should be taken into account when choosing varieties for the coming season. Winter cereals With attention now turning to winter cereals drilling, many growers are thinking about the threat of BYDV in the coming autumn. Controlling the spread of BYDV following the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments is turning reliance back onto the use of pyrethroids. To avoid increasing pyrethroid resistance among aphid vectors, an integrated approach must be used. It is mainly the bird cherry oat aphid and grain aphid that carry the virus, with resistance to pyrethroids being found in the grain aphid. BYDV can start to be tackled by a few cultural controls before we turn to pyrethroid applications. Aphids can survive on a green bridge from the previous crop or migrate into the crop from surrounding habitats. To limit survival between crops, green bridges should be sprayed off before cultivating at least five weeks before

drilling. Delaying drilling is another tool that can be incorporated into an integrated approach. Aphid migration starts in warm temperatures but slows when temperatures drop below 11degC, meaning later drillings may not experience aphid migration if we experience a cold start to winter. It is also useful to look at Rothamsted’s aphid monitoring results – it uses suction traps to monitor aphid migration. To help determine whether a pyrethroid spray should be applied, the T-Sum temperature should be calculated to determine risk. This measurement is calculated by monitoring daily temperatures above 3degC and adding them together – when the sum reaches 170 there is a high risk of aphid pressure and spraying should be considered. The presence of aphids and use of thresholds to help determine spray timings must be adhered to, to ensure pyrethroid use is limited to prevent resistance. With the threat of BYDV likely to rise in the coming years due to the loss of neonicotinoid seed dressings, together with milder winters and resistance to pyrethroids, much research needs to be directed into this area to help us overcome this threat. Yield loss as a result of BYDV infection in wheat can be as high as 60%, a worrying statistic which poses a real threat to the future of wheat production in the UK. However, while research into control options for the virus and decision support tools are being developed, we must in the meantime safeguard what control methods we have by implementing cultural and chemical control in a responsive and effective manner to ensure their longevity.

OCTOBER 2019 AF Oct p23 TAg Vaughan RM AD MC TR.indd 3

23 26/09/2019 11:34


DARRYL Shailes The sugar beet campaign is underway – and first indications are of strong yields


t the time of writing it is still very dry in East Anglia and some growers are even suggesting it is worse than the long, hot summer of 2018, which seems incredible. Certainly, the grass growth is slowing, but I don’t think it is as bad as last year, for us at least, although the garden pond is dry, despite living on the floodplain of the River Waveney. The drainage system of the water meadows is about the same level as in 2018, but it is managed by the Environment Agency so they can maintain a higher water level. I have however, just started so see some grass being irrigated for cattle grazing on the slightly higher ground, which is a first for me, so that in itself tells a story. The sugar beet campaign has started and first indications areof of strong yields. Heavier soils, especially where there have been heavy rains, followed by very hot and

Agronomist facts JDarryl Shailes is root crop technical manager for Hutchinsons, with a nationwide remit. He has been working in potato agronomy for more than 20 years.

24 AF Oct P24 Roots RM MC TR.indd 2

windy weather, are proving a challenge for both harvesters and patience. These soils are now very tight and lifting whole beet without leaving some in the ground is difficult. Wear and tear on the harvester will also be high. A good dollop of rain will help but there is nothing in the immediate forecast. Who knows, though? When you’re reading this it could be pouring down and everyone wanting it to stop, such are the vagaries of the UK weather. There is some evidence of disease about, especially rust, but the anticipated cercospora is still not as bad as it could be as it is too dry for it to develop rapidly. It came in late last year and rapidly defoliated some crops, so not a time to be relaxing with fungicides, especially if you are lifting later into the year or early next. Suffering The beet price for 2020 has just been announced and yield will once again be the key to success in the crop, so the lessons learned about attention to detail by the finalists in the Beet Yield Challenge will need to be learned by all growers. The potato harvest is suffering as a result of the dry conditions, with some growers having to irrigate to help lift crops where they are set solid in the ground. If dry matter is high, irrigation post

burn-down will have very little effect in getting water into the tubers, apart from some osmosis. Once the crop has been stopped and the stolons have been abscised, there is no longer any transport of water via the plant, so the amount that can be taken up is minimal. This means irrigation will have very little effect on bruising, apart from possibly keeping some soil on the web to reduce the physical damage at lifting. Where possible it is best to irrigate pre-burn down, at least then the crop has some opportunity to affect the turgor of the tubers prior to lifting. One of the big issues facing growers is the loss of CIPC (chlorpropham), not only for its ability to control tubers but also the fact that stores which have been gassed in the past will still be leaking CIPC to the crop. The industry is working hard to get extensions for a gradual MRL reduction to make stores useable for storage while this depletion of the CIPC in the actual fabric of the store occurs. AHDB Potatoes is working hard with packers, processors and other members of the CIPC task force to come up with a series of guidelines and best practice advice on cleaning old stores to accelerate this depletion. Keep an eye out or speak to your local AHDB knowledge exchange manager for the latest information.

OCTOBER 2019 26/09/2019 15:06


Benchmarking is a key tool in improving soil health.

Brought to you by PROBING soil performance by analysing its chemical, biological and physical status is key to feeding its success and generating positive enhancements going forward. Hutchinsons’ Healthy Soils assessment presents soil health status in a straightforward and easy-to-understand format, allowing trends to be identified which are impacting on the function of soil at all levels. At a chemical level, this means looking at nutrients in soil, what is available and, more importantly, what is unavailable. Hutchinsons arable agronomist George Baxter says: “Getting nutrients from the unavailable total fraction could be as simple as changing the form in which you apply fertiliser. “For example, if you have a lot of iron in soil and you are applying Triple Super Phosphate, the likelihood is it might be getting locked up, so changing to a form which is less prone to lock up would be beneficial. It is about understanding how elements interact in soil and putting clever fertiliser strategies together to get the most out of them.”

With many farmers considering soil their most valuable resource, land managers can delve deeper into understanding how soils are functioning, working to unlock their potential and put more sustainable practices in place.

Unlocking soil potential This means instead of aiming to meet the demand of the crop being grown, the demand of soil is treated as equally important, supplying it with what it needs to function properly.


Mr Baxter says: “This is key to unlocking its potential and getting the soil to work for us. This might mean looking at things such as enhancing soil microbes, instead of just applying inorganic inputs and expecting to get things back. It is about feeding it with the right things to make it flourish.”

In many cases, the solution is simple, says Mr Baxter, with frequent issues being flagged up including soil pH or compaction. “These are straightforward to get right and make a big difference to how soils perform. However, in some cases there are issues which take longer to rectify, such as deep compaction, but by knowing the field situation, plans can be made to get back on track.” This makes tracking progress all the more important and the Healthy Soils assessment will create markers for the status of the soil, he says, so growers can

PRE-DRILLING SOIL CHECK LIST With winter wheat drilling due to kick off, Mr Baxter says growers should consider seedbed conditions carefully before making cultivation decisions this autumn. “Growers are only going to find their true seedbed conditions by getting out a spade and having a dig. If you have got a good soil profile with lots of worms, you can question your cultivation strategy and how much seed you are going to use

depending on drilling date and what soils are like.” With the damp weather increasing slug pressure, Mr Baxter says attention to detail will be particularly important. “Look at slugs and straw laying on the top and think about aspects which will make a big difference to your establishment come drilling. The more you look at soil now, it will give you a flavour for what you are going to drill into in the

next month or so. There are some fantastic seedbeds out there from reduced cultivations and sometimes you have to farm what’s in front of you. Less is more sometimes.” Top tips: ✓ Get digging – check the soil profile before making cultivation decisions ✓ Consider threats to establishment and review pest pressure ✓ Do not overwork seedbeds – less is sometimes more

assess and validate improvements that have been made. Mr Baxter says: “Soil health is such a buzz topic, but you need to measure improvements you have made and see which ones made the most impact. If you have a start point, you then have a marker for making improvements and in five years’ time you can assess soil again to quantify what you have achieved. It is a really good parameter to say this is where my soil was.” Soil health benchmarking could also prove useful under Government plans, should soil become a public good, providing evidence of improvements which have been made to the state of ground, he adds. While the Soil Health analysis provides an in-depth assessment of soil health, Hutchinsons’ TerraMap service looks at the field as a whole and can be used to make decisions which reaffirm what is found in the soil assessment, says Mr Baxter. “On the flip side, you can do a TerraMap assessment and if you want a more detailed look at a part of the field, then the Healthy Soils assessment might be where to go.”

For more on the Hutchinsons Healthy Soils assessment, visit

OCTOBER 2019 AF Oct p25 Hutchinsons Soils Approved RM MC TR.indd 2

25 27/09/2019 10:10

TECHNICAL BLACK-GRASS Increasing black-grass populations, together with control failures, have led Suffolk farm manager and BASF Real Results initiative member Edward Vipond to rethink his approach to managing black-grass. Teresa Rush reports.

A route to better weed control


dward Vipond manages 1,500 hectares of arable land for the Claas family from a base near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Troston Farms’ land is spread across a radius of 24 miles with soil types ranging from black Breckland sand to heavy clay. Mr Vipond’s approach to managing black-grass is strategic, long-term and pragmatic and he is clearly a manager with an eye on the future. “Recently I realised I had probably 20 harvests left in me, so I’ve been having a period of reflection. You spend an awful lot of money [on black-grass control] but can end up feeling you are back to square one or worse [because of the rate of seed multiplication]. “Like many other farmers, I’ve been relying on something in a can and those cans are being depleted. Going forward they will be some of the answer, but not all of the answer,” he says. For many growers there is often a tipping point in their battle with black-grass and for Mr Vipond it came with a field of oilseed rape. Despite being given ‘the works’ in ag-chem terms, including propyzamide and clethodim, the black-grass population in the crop was so high and the seed return to the following crop of wheat so vast that Mr Vipond

New herbicide JBASF is developing Luximo, a new residual herbicide active for control of black-grass and rye-grass in winter cereals. For use pre-emergence, the herbicide is said to have a brand new mode of action,

admits he found himself wondering what he was doing. “So last year I gave in and sprayed some of the wheat off; I’d never done that in my life. That was a gamechanger,” he says. He sprayed off two hectares of the 24ha field of wheat with glyphosate. This year the field was in beans and, yes, there was black-grass in the crop, but at noticeably lower levels where the preceding wheat crop had been burned off. Approach “You could see to a line where the black-grass had been sprayed off in the wheat crop and where it hadn’t. I will now be more ruthless with my approach,” says Mr Vipond, who last autumn started to put in place measures he hopes will reduce the black-grass burden across the farm. Black-grass is present across all the farm’s soil types, even on the

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How to optimise AD yields Meat-free trend boosts pulse prospects Low vicine beans deliver nutritional benefits Better bruchid beetle control Top tips for agchem store management

requiring a new Herbicide Resistance Action Committee classification. BASF is hoping for approval for products containing Luximo in time for use during the autumn 2021 season.

lightest land, where Mr Vipond attributes its presence to spread via machinery. However the most severe infestations are on the heavy land, where a lack of viable break crop options is adding to the challenge. There are 450ha of spring crops in the rotation – a little under a third of the overall acreage – but the area is not equally distributed across soil types, with the proportion of break crops lower on the heavier land. “To add to that, I’ve pulled out of OSR on heavy land on the basis that I harvested a healthy crop of flea beetle this year. “I spent quite a bit of time and money establishing rape to a good degree last autumn. We had some thumping rape crops in September into October; come January it wasn’t growing. This harvest, we ranged in yield from 2.3t/ha to 4.5t/ ha. My average was 3.55t/ha, but the potential was so much more. “We tried forage rye for AD on the heavy land, to take a year’s black-grass seed off the farm. It sort of worked but then the black-grass in the following year’s crop made me think it didn’t. Nothing went wrong, it was just the seedbank was so huge.

“I looked at soya but I haven’t got the confidence. Maize on the lighter element of the heavy land, but you are at risk of seriously messing up your soil structure. I’ve grown linseed before but it doesn’t fill me with confidence; peas are not great in the same rotation as beans. “In place of OSR, we are growing winter barley, which is going to make the black-grass even more challenging. My white straw percentage is just going up and up.” While solving the heavy land break conundrum remains a serious challenge, he has implemented a number of actions around cultivations, drilling dates, seed rates, autumn herbicide programmes and crop destruction if necessary. “I try and plan my cultivations strategy ahead. How am I going to fit in the cultural control? What is the cropping for the next three to four years? What are the jigsaw pieces I need to put together? “I am now in a rotation where there will be beans, two wheats and a ‘what if’, but I know exactly what I am doing cultivation-wise because I want that black-grass seed on top. “I won’t plough heavy land or for beans; I will min-till or deep tine till for beans.


AF OCT p26 27 GrassWeeds RM MC TR.indd 2

27/09/2019 11:22

Edward Vipond is making use of all the tools available to him to control black-grass.

The amount of black-grass in one 2019 harvest crop of beans left it ‘a failure field’ says Mr Vipond.

“The plough is not redundant on the heavy land but it won’t be used unless absolutely necessary. With ploughing, I am not confident we are not bringing up more seed. It hasn’t just arrived this black-grass, it has been around for a while. So I am keeping the seed which is down [the soil profile], down and using min-till to keep the fresh seed on top.” Winter wheat drilling dates have been pushed back. “We were a month later starting drilling [in autumn last year] than we were the year before, starting on October 17 at 325-350 seeds/ sq.m and not being afraid to increase that,” says Mr Vipond. “I have to go this late on my heavier land although it is not a choice I am particularly comfortable with. The heavy land fields I have a problem with will be in a 70% seedbed as soon as I can. We’ll get in there quick, cultivate, then leave them alone, spray them off once with Roundup, possibly twice, and then pick our moment. “I have got 480ha of wheat to go in the ground this autumn. Some of it I haven’t got black-grass on and would be happy to drill in the first week of October. And then it is a case of finding out

Troston Farms’ black-grass control strategy rCultivations focused on not bringing up buried blackgrass seed and keeping

where my worst black-grass field is, what my priorities are, and asking how brave do I feel? I want to be drilling most of my non-root cropped land in October. Flush “I think you have got to look at your seedbeds, look at the weather in October, look at how much of a black-grass flush you have had. And if there is no flush at all and you really feel brave, leave it alone and put spring barley in; it doesn’t have to be a wheat crop.” In addition, Mr Vipond has opted for what he describes as a ‘robust and fairly ruthless’ pre-emergence herbicide stack, comprising Crystal + DFF (flufenacet + pendimathalin + DFF) pre-emergence followed by peri-emergence Avadex (triallate), applied as the tramlines become visible, and post-emergence Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfron) plus Liberator (flufenacet + DFF).

fresh seed at the soil surface rMove to drilling later rUse of robust pre-emergence

herbicide stack and autumnapplied follow-up programme rCrop destruction if necessary

“And it [Atlantis] will be autumn-applied, not springapplied, because once you leave it until the spring you have lost the battle, the black-grass is far too big.” The decision to apply glyphosate to areas of a crop which are too badly infested will most likely be made pre-Christmas, but the decision will be made on gut feeling, rather than any weed count threshold.

“You have got to swallow the bitter pill of putting your pre-ems on, that’s got to happen. But you don’t want to be spending money on fungicides and nitrogen. “What do they say – 96% control to stand still? This year I might have got above 90% in my wheat crop. I think it is a gut feeling and being thorough enough when you are crop walking,” says Mr Vipond.

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27 27/09/2019 09:07

TECHNICAL RENEWABLES With demand for renewable energy increasing, AD plant operators should aim for maximum efficiency. Alice Dyer finds out how to harness the most energy from crops.

Optimising biogas yields


rop-fed anaerobic digestion (AD) plants not only provide additional income streams to farming businesses, but give alternative crops a place in the rotation. But to improve return on investment, attention to detail in AD is important in gaining more control of the process and increasing biogas yields. Tim Elsome, general manager at FM Bio Energy offers his tips for increasing AD plant productivity.

Using the wrong feedstock combination can cut AD efficiency by more than half, says Tim Elsome (inset).

1. Feedstock choice JCertain feedstocks and materials, such as grass and wholecrops, are notoriously difficult to process, so ensuring the crop is right for the plant and of good quality will make all the difference to its productivity. This means looking at crops that are best suited to the plant, and crops that are easy to grow regionally, or easily accessible at a reasonable price. “Plan future diets carefully around what the plant can process,” Mr Elsome advises. “It is probably too late to select the biogas plant around the crops you grow, but you still have the

chance to select crops around the type of plant you have. “One of our customers is a prime example of a badly designed project – the plant ran brilliantly on maize but being based in the North East where they can’t grow maize, the owner either had to buy it in or process grass and rye, which is very difficult to digest.” The grass and rye mixture created biological instability in the plant and mixing and heating issues, meaning it was running at just 40% efficiency. “In this case we adapted the feedstock to a mix of equal parts

Optimum harvest conditions Crop Dry matter (%) Maize 28-36 Grass (optimum) 30-40 Grass (high DM) >45 Grass (low DM) <25 Cereals 32-38

Source: FM Bio Energy Chop length (mm) 4-6 30-40 20 60-80 6-10

maize, grass and wholecrop cereals, with a micro/macro enzyme which helps to break them down in the digester, enabling the plant to better cope with these complex feedstocks.” To allow for the best quality crop to be fed into the plant, harvest should be carefully timed so the crop’s dry matter is in a good range, and the right chop

length is met (see table). AD plant owners struggling with biological instability or mixing issues, such as high viscosity or crusting, should speak to a consultant who can analyse the plant, provide guidance on the biological health within the digester and advise on different feed options to achieve full output, Mr Elsome says.

“A biological agent to enhance and improve fermentation should be applied at the point of harvest to reduce storage losses and prevent clamps from heating up when you’re feeding it out. This means the clamp can be opened in as little as two weeks, and also prevents yeast and mould

growth which are the causes of the clamp face reheating.” Clamps should be fed out in a way that exposes the minimum amount of surface area to oxygen, because oxygen ingress will cause the face to heat up, translating to energy losses of 3% per day, says Mr Elsome.

2. Clamp management JOnce the crop has been harvested, good storage management is important in preventing losses over winter, and utilising the total crop harvested. Mr Elsome says: “Arable farmers are not always used to storing materials, but because they will be growing a harvest


to last 12 months, they need to make sure storing practices are correct so as to reduce losses.” Feed crops must be well compacted and sheeted down to ensure clamps are airtight and aerobically stable, and a biogasspecific silage additive should be included, he says.


AF Oct p28 29 Tech Energy RM TR AD NEW.indd 2

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RENEWABLES TECHNICAL Optimum crop storage conditions rWell compacted rRoll each layer a minimum of three times rFill material in a wedge shape rMultilayer plastic covers

Same field. More yield.

rSeal immediately after filling rSeal ends and sides carefully rMust be oxygen tight Source: FM Bio Energy

Low Carbon Prolonged Release

3. Monitor the plant regularly JAll biogas plants should be regularly analysed to ensure there is no biological instability and the gas yield and quality are as expected for feed input. “For a crop-fed plant, mixing is absolutely critical,” says Mr Elsome. “You can end up with floating or sinking layers, or balls of material floating round, so making sure it is a well homogenised tank is what you are trying to achieve.” He advises checking the tank at least once a day to make sure feed is sufficiently mixed and temperatures are where they should be. “AD plants are complex but often value-engineered. Feedstocks, digestate and gases can be corrosive and the conditions inside mean that sensors often fail or

give false readings. These need to be manually checked and calibrated to ensure the operator has the best information to hand in order to take the correct decision.” Getting the biological health of the AD plant analysed on a regular basis will flag up any impending problems with this aspect of the plant. Mr Elsome recommends this is done every two weeks, unless there is an instability issue. “Then it should be every week. Normally once every two weeks gives us time to spot an issue before it becomes a problem.” If the plant has bigger issues with performance, then samples should be sent to the lab twice a week until a solution has been found, Mr Elsome adds.

4. Plant biology JFor crop-fed plants, there is always a demand for trace element supplementation and any deficiencies will be picked up in the regular lab analyses. A micro/macro nutrient additive supports the plant’s biology by creating optimal digester conditions for the bacteria to reproduce. “However, it is very important to use a mix that is bespoke to your plant,” says Mr Elsome. “This ensures there are no deficiencies and no excesses as some nutrients can be toxic in high concentrations.

“Operators should certainly be supplementing the nutritional content of the digester with trace elements, but it is also worth considering other things like enzymes, but only as required.” There are two reasons for using enzymes – to produce gas faster, which is ideal when the retention time is short or the organic loading rate is high, and when the digestate gets very thick or viscous and hard to mix. An enzyme additive will help to break that down and keep the tank flowing.

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29 27/09/2019 11:20


Meat-free meals could gi ve With veganism and plant-based living booming in popularity in recent years, Alice Dyer looks at what this means for the UK pulse market.


ince 2014, the number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled, sitting at about 600,000 people according to the Vegan Society. As well as this, 31% of consumers are cutting down on their meat consumption and last year UK businesses led the way globally in terms of the number of vegan products launched. Sainsbury’s Future of Food report predicts that vegetarians and vegans will make up a quarter of British people in 2025, presenting a wealth of opportunity for UK growers as the market looks set to expand significantly. Josiah Meldrum, co-founder of Hodmedod, which markets British pulses and grains for human consumption, says the increased demand for plant protein has seen his business grow substantially in the three years since it was established. Health He says: “We have a lot of vegan customers, but in truth it is [demand] across the board. For various reasons, principally environmental but also health, people are cutting down on meat and looking to buy better quality meat. We have seen a huge surge in interest, not just from vegans looking to replace imported protein crops, but also from people who want to eat less meat.” Although the market is there, convincing farmers to produce more pulses can be difficult due to agronomic challenges and achieving human consumption grade, he adds.

“There are all sorts of positive reasons, such as nitrogen fixation, for growing pulses rotationally as a break crop and building soil organic matter, but they’re still quite risky. The quality spec is much higher for food and they present agronomic challenges that other break crops might not.” Opportunities Hodmedod works closely with five organic farmers who produce 100-200 tonnes of pulses a year for human consumption, but Mr Meldrum says there are much wider opportunities out there for UK pulse growers. “A lot of plant-based materials that are going into these new [meat-free] meals are protein isolates* rather than whole pulses which are coming in from North America. “There are certain crops, such as yellow and green split peas, where the price comparison between UK production and imported product is close and we’re well suited to growing them. Arguably by


increasing production through firmer growing arrangements, we could significantly increase what we’re producing and put it into the UK human consumption chain.” However, despite the positive outlook for peas, the infrastructure post-farmgate needs to catch up with UK demand, says Roger Vickers, chief executive of the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO). He says: “At the moment it appears the product of choice for meat substitutes is pea protein, with much of it being produced

from yellow or white peas grown in France and Canada. “The rapidly increasing demand for meat alternatives and vegetable

*What are protein isolates? JProtein isolates are a powdered, concentrated protein substance made by grinding dried pulses into a powder and removing the starch and fibre. Source: Nuzest

Meatless meal firm preparing for big expansion JChris Shields, technical manager at the Meatless Farm Co, which manufactures plantbased burgers, sausages and mince, says the company’s sales are set to double by the end of next year, and double again the following year, as a result of the huge uptake in meat alternatives. The UK-based start-up launched across 500

Also in this section 32 34

Arable farmers have a unique market opportunity in the meat-free sector.

More nutritious beans without penalising yield Finding new ways to beat bruchid beetle

Sainsbury’s stores last year, and now supplies a number of UK retailers, with markets in Canada, China and UAE. Most recently, it has also landed in Whole Foods Markets in the US. Proteins used in the meals are yellow peas, soya and rice protein, but Mr Shields says they are looking into alternatives, such as lentils and chick peas. The company currently buys textured yellow pea protein from a supplier in Europe, which uses French and


Canadian peas, but Mr Shields says the plan is to buy from M British growers in the future. Y “Because of the huge CM expansion in Canada, we are trying to establish some routesMY there. We’ve got supply comingCY from Europe at the moment CMY and, if we can, we’ll certainly be driving for more and more local.K “We want to establish local networks of supply, so ideally British farmers supplying British products and Canadian farmers for Canadian products,” he says.


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gi ve pulse growers a boost “We’ve got a very good climate for growing pulses, particularly peas and beans, so the raw material is potentially on the doorstep if someone wanted to invest in that market.” Yellow peas With much of the UK pulses market focused on producing green peas, Mr Vickers says yellow peas are easier to produce in many ways because there are no issues in retaining their colour. Yellow peas are He says: “Traditionally they are finding favour with worth less in value but easier to plant-based meal produce. With a green pea there is manufacturers. a lot of premium in retaining a nice, non-bleached product, but for proteins means there’s potentially a yellow peas bleaching isn’t an issue and generally there’s no deduction big opportunity for investors to for colour. Because it is being supply the UK market by growing 00000_Pre-em advert_CPM 1 22/08/2018 ground to flour it doesn’t matter the produce and extracting the 200x129_25Sep-HR.pdf what colour the skin is.” protein here in the UK.

The rise of the plant-based diet rThe UK plant-based market was worth £443 million last year rThe UK meat-free market is estimated to grow to £658m in 2021 rVegans and vegetarians could make

Yellow peas have a wide range of markets, from high-end exports for human consumption, through to animal feed, with higher environmental credentials than soya protein, says Mr Vickers. There are already numerous opportunities to grow pulses in the UK and alternative pulse crops, such as lentils and chickpeas, may 15:06 provide further opportunities. “We are so good at producing

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up a quarter of the British population in 2025 rNearly a quarter of the British public consume plant milk r92% of plant-based meals consumed in the UK in 2018 were eaten by non-vegans Source: The Vegan Society

the big crops such as fava beans, peas and marrow fat peas. “If there is a company with a vision to process them and add value to the raw materials that can be grown in the UK, then it is a good place to invest in them. “The value that’s being put behind meat substitute products is enormous. There is huge potential and huge perceived demand for products,” says Mr Vickers.



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AF Oct p30 31 Pulse Vegans RM AD TR.indd 3

26/09/2019 09:23

FOCUS PULSE CROPS Anti-nutritional factors can limit the extent to which beans can be used in animal and human diets, but new varieties are enabling these issues to be overcome while yielding on a par with conventional varieties. Marianne Curtis reports.

More nutritious beans with no yield penalty


wo spring bean varieties with low vicine/low convicine (LVC) – Tiffany and Victus – joined the PGRO Recommended List (RL) for the first time in 2019 (see table). And with Victus matching the top yielder on the RL, its breeder, LS Plant Breeding (LSPB), is considering whether to move its whole spring bean breeding programme to incorporate this characteristic. Vicine and convicine are anti-nutritional compounds which, when present in high levels, can give rise an allergic-like response known as favism in humans and performance issues when fed in animal feed. A new potential market for LVC bean varieties was highlighted through the Optibean project. This four-year project, which concluded in 2015, was partly funded by Innovate UK to optimise field bean breeding, production and usage. Partners included the Processors’ and Growers’ Research Organisation, the Waitrose Livestock Producer Group and others. Chairman of the Optibean project, Peter Smith, then working for a plant breeder, now for Agrii as market development manager, says the Waitrose Livestock Producer Group included companies supplying farmers producing pigs,

32 AF OCT p32 33 Pulse RM MC TR.indd 2

As well as having low anti-nutritional factors, the LVC beans also have extremely good yield

Key points rTwo low vicine/convicine bean varieties have joined the PGRO Recommended List rYields are on a par with conventional varieties rMore scope to use in animal feed and may be advantageous in human consumption markets rBreeder LSPB considering breeding all beans with the LVC trait

ROGER VICKERS broiler and layer chickens, ducks and salmon for Waitrose. “We did feeding trials on all of those animals using a variety of bean types, including ordinary fava beans, white flowered beans, tannin-free and low vicine/ convicine beans. The one which came out best for monogastrics was low vicine/convicine.” As well as the feeding trials, the project also looked at the breeding and agronomy of field beans. Emissions Mr Smith says: “Waitrose were also interested in lifecycle analysis, comparing UK fava beans to imported soya. There was a vast difference in the CO2 emissions. As a result of that, Waitrose was keen to replace a percentage of imported soya in

rations with low vicine/ convicine beans.” Theo Labuda, managing director of LSPB, says the project found 20-30% of soya could be replaced with low vicine/low convicine beans in certain animal feed rations. LVC variety Tiffany was bred by LSPB. Mr Labuda explains the background to the LVC breeding programme. “Vicine content has been a known limitation in the use of beans for a considerable time. The main issue is whether anyone is willing to pay more for the attribute. “Generally speaking, the UK market has been dominated by the requirement to meet human consumption demands for export while French and German

demand has mainly been for animal feed use. “As low vicine/convicine is primarily of benefit for animal feed it is clear varieties of this type would have greater potential use outside the UK.” However, with Waitrose giving Tiffany the green light for use in its supply chain three years ago, Mr Smith says it was fast-tracked through and there was demand for it before it got on the RL. “Market demand pulled it through,” he says. In the first year, the target was to supply 4,000 tonnes of Tiffany, says Mr Smith. “We are up to 5,000t at the moment. It is all Waitrose Group but now, with other varieties coming in to the system, it will open it up to other people.” Currently the beans are going into feed for pigs, chickens, turkeys and ducks. The plan is to continue using Tiffany for the Waitrose partnership as extensive testing has been done, says Mr Smith. The premium growers receive for growing Tiffany is £50/t over the wheat futures market, less

OCTOBER 2019 27/09/2019 11:20


Anti-nutritional compounds can limit the extent to which beans can be used in animal and human diets.

haulage. Beans normally trade at £25-£40 over wheat. “We are keen to get more growers,” says Mr Smith. “Last year we were slightly under on area. It was a difficult season.” Promising This year the crop looks promising – many winter bean crops have yielded 6-6.5t/hectare and he is hoping the spring bean crop will also do well. Agrii is responsible for seed sales and its subsidiary, GB Seeds, handles logistics and contracts. The beans for the Waitrose

Spring beans 2019 RL data – LVC varieties and top yielding variety

producer groups go to nominated mills on a nationwide basis. LVC beans may also have potential in North African human consumption markets, adds Mr Smith, although these markets tend to be focused on appearance and absence of bruchid damage,

rather than LVC characteristics As well as having the LVC trait, Victus is showing higher yields on a par with or higher than conventional varieties, says Mr Labuda. “There is no negative yield impact so we are in the process of deciding whether to

convert the whole breeding programme into low vicine/low convicine.” PGRO managing director Roger Vickers says: “As well as having low anti-nutritional factors, the LVC beans also have extremely good yield.”

OCTOBER 2019 AF OCT p32 33 Pulse RM MC TR.indd 3

Source: PGRO

Yield Standing ability Downy mildew (% of control) at harvest resistance Victus P1 104 7 6 Pale hilum LVC Tiffany P1 100 6 5 Pale hilum LVC Lynx R 104 8 7 Pale hilum P1 = Provisional recommendation year 1. R = Recommended. LVC = Low vicine/low convicine

33 27/09/2019 11:20

FOCUS PULSE CROPS The bruchid beetle has become more troublesome in recent years, compromising the quality of bean crops in many parts of England. Alice Dyer and Marianne Curtis report on recent research into improving control of the pest.


igh temperatures in June and July over the past two growing seasons have led to increased levels of bruchid beetle larvae damage in beans, particularly in the southern half of the country. Dr Becky Howard, of the Processors’ and Growers’ Research Organisation (PGRO), says: “It is not an easy problem to solve, particularly for people growing beans in the East and South East where there are higher populations [of bruchid] and higher temperatures. “These are the worst-hit areas, but the pest is present right up into the Borders at low levels.” Key periods for the beetle are in April and June – when the beetle emerges from over winter sites and when pods are setting. “June is when the adult females are laying eggs in spring beans, and this can be earlier in winter beans. If pods are setting and temperatures are high, that is when you get the highest levels of damage,” says Dr Howard. The last two years have seen reasonably high temperatures when pods were setting, and

Targeting bruchid beetle activity conditions last year had a particular impact on crop quality. “When damage is 2-3% the beans become less attractive to the human consumption market, which is where most growers are targeting. Damage “Traders will sometimes accept a slightly higher level of damage if the quantity of good quality beans is low, which it was last year,” says Dr Howard. According to Syngenta vegetable field technical manager Simon Jackson, growers have

When you have 20degC for two days and pods are set, that is when to apply your first insecticide DR BECKY HOWARD

been getting damage well above that – in many instances over 20%. Although the beetle’s activity does not hugely affect yield unless damage is in the 60% region, germination capacity in seed crops can start to drop off once damage is more than 30%. Mr Jackson adds: “Growers have been struggling to meet the [human consumption] standard for a number of years now. Some growers are questioning

Controlling bruchid beetle with trap cropping? JThe use of trap crops as an alternative means for controlling bruchid beetle in spring beans is being investigated by PGRO. Small plot trials across East Anglia and the East Midlands in 2015 revealed that earlier drilled spring beans sustained much more damage from the pest. Dr Becky Howard of PGRO says: “I would like to determine the impact of having an earlier


flowering part of the crop, which may have an impact on bruchid damage, in the main crop. This could act as a trap, so if you have beans which are flowering and setting pods earlier and attracting more bruchid, most of the damage may be kept in those sections.

Robust “We achieved robust results for this effect in small plots in close proximity to each other.”

Beans drilled at the beginning of March in all cases had twice as much damage as those drilled at the beginning of April. Beans drilled at the end of March rather than early April still showed a significant reduction in pest damage. Dr Howard adds: “We think that in the small trials the bruchids are attracted to the first flowering plots which may be why you see the difference.” This year’s trials were

carried out on one farm at field scale. An early strip of spring beans was drilled at the end of February with the main crop drilled at the beginning of March.

Difference Dr Howard says: “We are still working on results, but it looks as though there is a difference. It is whether there is enough difference to make an impact on the crop.”


AF Oct p34 35 Pulse Bruchid RM MC TR.indd 2

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PULSE CROPS FOCUS June is a key period for bruchid attack, when pods are setting.

Bruchid monitoring rMonitor bean crops. When they start flowering they are attractive to bruchid rKeep an eye on temperatures and sign up to BruchidCast (see panel below) rBetween 15-17degC beetles

the period during which you have to spray, which is not ideal in a flowering crop.”

whether it is worth spraying and spending the money, but still not meeting the standards.” Temperatures Bruchid beetle tends to mostly damage the bottom four to five trusses when the pods are set, says Mr Jackson. “The level of damage depends on the temperatures at that time. Winter beans are not necessarily worse affected than spring beans, it depends on the season and when the high temperatures occur. There can be two weeks between a spring and winter crop of beans at that stage.”

The BruchidCast forecasting tool is the most important thing growers can use to manage the pest better, says Dr Howard. She says: “It will give growers a good indication of when they should spray. When you have 20degC for two days and pods are set, that is when to apply your first insecticide. Hold off spraying until you get that threshold. If pods are not set yet the beetle can’t do any damage because they lay their eggs on the pods. “If you were to go slightly earlier, you would be extending

Markets Dr Howard adds: “It is important to remind growers that there are markets other than human consumption, so if they are finding bruchid beetle difficult to manage they should perhaps be thinking about that as well.” Syngenta carried out trials in the 2018 harvest season looking at a new thiacloprid product, applied in alternation with its Hallmark Zeon (lambda-cyhalothrin)

What is BruchidCast? JDeveloped by Syngenta in conjunction with the PGRO, BruchidCast is designed to aid the timing of insecticide applications by giving up to five days advance warning of periods of peak pest activity by postcode area. The information also includes a forecast

of potential spraying opportunities. Combining the forecasts together is a powerful tool to identify when there is increasing risk of pest damage and when growers may have the opportunity to intervene. rMore information at

move from overwintering sites into the crop rTwo consecutive days where the temperature is above 20degC triggers egg laying Source: Syngenta

insecticide, along with application timing to target beetle activity in the crop ahead of egg laying. Mr Jackson says: “It was a good option, in that it gave growers something else with which to target the pest through a protracted risk period. However, while larvae hole damage was reduced, we did see some black marks on the seed coat. “This season we have been looking at spray application. Lower drift nozzles which produced a heavier droplet gave better penetration on the pods and more even coverage.”

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OCTOBER 2019 QPP.indd 1

AF Oct p34 35 Pulse Bruchid RM MC TR.indd 3

35 06/02/2018 09:02

27/09/2019 09:16

TECHNICAL Prepare for the weather J“It is well known pesticide stores should be kept frost-free over winter to avoid chemicals splitting or becoming less effective.

Chill “I’d recommend installing a closed-element electric tube heater to keep the chill off,” says Mr Mitton. “Install good lighting to ensure labels are easily read and not misunderstood.”

Organising a chemical store is a core step in ensuring it is safe, says Patrick Mitton.

The quieter winter months provide the perfect time for pesticide store maintenance and management. Arable Farming asked independent BASIS examination chairman, Patrick Mitton to share his top tips for ensuring stores are up to standard.

Top tips for spray store management Get the basics right

Think about layout

JThere are a number of important items which should be in the store, besides pesticides. Mr Mitton advises one item which is often forgotten is an appropriate spill kit. “I’d recommend including an absorbent material, such

JTo prevent crosscontamination in the event of a spill, Mr Mitton advises against storing liquids above granules. As such, he encourages farmers to ensure shelving is made from non-permeable materials, such as structurally

as sand, plus a dustpan and brush and sacks to contain the waste,” he says. “In the same vein, personal protective equipment and a first aid kit should be close to hand, and staff should be appropriately trained in how to use these resources.”

sound metal or plastic, as this will make cleaning easy. “I would also always recommend keeping fungicides, herbicides and insecticides separate to help avoid misidentification, especially when in a hurry,” says Mr Mitton.

Prioritise safety and security

Think about the environment

JAll store exteriors should be marked with the general danger warning sign and a smoking and naked flames forbidden sign. It is also recommended to display emergency phone numbers in a prominent position. Mr Mitton adds that in

JWith the need to protect the environment everimportant, stores should have a large enough bund to contain 110% of products stored at full capacity. However, those in environmentally sensitive areas should hold 185%.


addition to the appropriate signage, the store should always be kept locked when not in immediate use and the whole structure, including the door, should be secure and robust to prevent harmful chemicals getting into the wrong hands.

“Additionally, it is important to ensure outdated products and empty containers should be disposed of by a registered waste contractor in order to stop any chemical remnants harming the environment or the public,” says Mr Mitton.


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AG-CHEM STORAGE TECHNICAL Have a rotation plan JPesticides go through reregistration with the Chemicals Regulation Division every 10 years. While product revocations are widely publicised, those which are simply reregistered with a new MAPP number often are not. “This means outdated products can look exactly the same as current ones at first glance,” says Mr Mitton. “Therefore, regular stock rotation will mean the oldest products are used up first, to help avoid holding outdated products, as this can result in non-compliance if picked up in an audit.” To check current and outdated MAPP numbers, visit the HSE website pestreg/ProdSearch.asp

Store checklist: rStocks should be regularly checked to ensure products are in date and relevant rHold two sets of stock records – one in the store and one elsewhere rDispose of unwanted or outdated products with a licensed contractor rRotate products to ensure oldest are used first

rSeparate different types of pesticide rDon’t store liquids above granules rKeep flammable products e.g. fuel at a safe proximity rRemove trip hazards rEnsure the bund retains 110% store capacity (185% in environmentally sensitive areas)

rEnsure staff are appropriately trained rPersonal protective equipment should be close to hand rMake spill and first aid kits available rEnsure warning signs and emergency numbers are visible outside Source: BASIS

Think about fire safety JRed Tractor guidelines require farms to hold two copies of up-to-date pesticide stock records – one in the store, and a duplicate elsewhere, in the office for example. “The second copy will be an invaluable tool in case of a fire in the store as it will help the emergency services rapidly

decide how to tackle the blaze as effectively and safely as possible.” Mr Mitton adds that, to help avoid fires breaking out or spreading in the first place, flammable products, such as gas canisters or diesel tanks, should be kept a safe distance from the store.

Patrick Mitton

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24/09/2019 16:55

THE CROPTEC SHOW PREVIEW This year’s CropTec Show seminars will see 16 industry specialists cover four key areas establishment and nutrition during the two-day event, offering visitors advice on adapting

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CropTec Show seminar p Crop protection rTimes: Day one – 1.30pm-2.40pm Day two – 3.20pm-4.30pm rSession chair: Emma Hamer, senior plant health adviser, NFU. Almost two-thirds of actives used in UK agriculture have been lost since the 1990s, and growers are coming under increasing pressure to produce more food using fewer chemicals, for both the environment’s sake and for their pockets. Session chair Emma Hamer says: “Having a toolbox of effective solutions to crop protection problems is our goal so pests, weeds and diseases can be managed. By listening to the speakers in this session, the audience can stay on the front foot and keep up to date on current research being carried out in this area.” rManaging with fewer pesticides: Prof Fiona Burnett, head of Scotland’s Rural College Connect for Impact and chairperson of the Fungicide Resistance Action Group. The loss of agchems such as chlorothalonil will have a

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severe impact on disease and resistance management. Find out why growing varieties with high disease resistance ratings will become increasingly important for both disease control and profitability. rProfiting from early disease detection: Matt Kettlewell, agronomist, Hummingbird. Crop walking via satellites and drones is presenting farmers with more accurate data on the state of their crops at all growth stages. Hear an agronomist’s perspective on how agtech can boost yields and profitability, while safeguarding the environment. rKeeping up with changing herbicide dynamics: Dr Sarah Cook, weed scientist and senior research consultant, ADAS. With grass-weeds often hogging the spotlight, broadleaved weed dynamics are shifting and growers need to keep on top of the challenge.

Crop nutrition rTimes: Day one and day two – 11.30am-12.40pm rSession chair: Mark Tucker, agronomy and business development manager, Yara UK. Over recent years crop nutrition has grown to be the number one area farmers are demanding more information on to build their knowledge. This, coupled with it being such a significant investment and linked to environmental issues, makes being mediocre not good enough, according to session chair, Mark Tucker.

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He says: “The crop nutrition seminars once again bring experts together to address agronomic and environmental issues currently at the heart of many discussions with efficiency a thread common throughout.” rImplications of the Clean Air Act: Daniel Kindred, head of agronomics, ADAS. A look at the greenhouse

Crop breeding rTimes: Day one – 9.30am-10.40am Day two – 1.30pm-2.40pm rSession chair: Russell McKenzie, Cambridgeshire farmer and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds board member. Plant genetics are our most valuable tool for tackling pests and disease, weather


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uncertainties and overcoming yield plateaus. Varieties with high levels of resistance will enhance profitability and reduce the need for chemical inputs and agriculture’s impact on the

environment. Hear how science and genetics can help carry the UK’s arable industry forward in uncertain times. rWinning ways with wheat lies in its genes: Dr Kim Hammond-Kosack, research leader wheat pathogenomics and deputy head, department of biointeractions and crop

protection, Rothamsted Research. Hear how the Defra-funded Wheat Genetic Improvement Network is researching how to reduce costs of production while offering environmental benefits through more sustainable yields and improved crop resistance and nitrogen use efficiency.


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PREVIEW THE CROPTEC SHOW relating to crop protection, breeding, to change and embracing the future.

r programme

More information rTo find out more, visit

gas intensity of cropping and the importance of nitrogen fertiliser. It is key for the industry to use benchmarking to encourage best practice and use agronomics to prevent on-farm penalties. rEvidence-based approach to crop nutrition: Natalie Wood, arable agronomist for UK and Ireland, Yara UK. Building on new evidence based on grain benchmarking (some supplied by delegates attending last year’s CropTec Show) and the work of the Yield Enhancement Network, Yara’s Natalie Wood will discuss the detail of a new

approach to nutrient application to minimise losses while maximising profitability in the process. rNavigating the right course for quality water and profit: Prof Keith Goulding, sustainable soils research fellow, Rothamsted Research. What is a realistic target for nitrogen use efficiency to realise optimum yield and profitability while minimising leaching? Prof Goulding will offer some solutions, including the use of nitrogen loss inhibitors, to help select the optimum application rates to achieve both targets.

rBreeding resilience into oilseed rape: Prof Steven Penfield, John Innes Centre. With the oilseed rape area likely to drop back further, visitors can get a ‘peek under the hood’ of the crop, to find out why yields can be so variable, and how climate change is actually helping oilseed rape growers.

rVariety selection in uncertain times: Cecilia Pryce, head of compliance, research and shipping, Openfield. New varieties are only useful to the grower if they have a market. Current uncertainty means it is all the more important that choice of combinable crops meets market demands.

Crop establishment rTimes: Day one – 3.20pm-4.30pm Day two – 9.30am-10.40am rSession chair: Will Gemmill, chairman, regional executive and head of farming, Strutt & Parker. Cost-effective crop establishment, a key aspect of this seminar, is critical to farmers’ future profits, says session chairman Will Gemmill. “How farmers manage their soils and find more innovative ways of keeping them healthy while capturing carbon emissions will be critical in the future,” he says. “In addition, reducing chemical solutions coupled with a desire to continue making efficiencies on fixed costs means finding innovative solutions to soil management becomes more important.” rProfiting from tough decisions – making every hectare count: Andrew Pitts, Northamptonshire, farmer and consultant. Following the suspension of Parliament, the Agriculture Bill of 2018, which is sets to phase out direct payments over the next nine years, will have to begin its passage through Parliament again. That delay may be welcome, but its sentiments remain; namely, the proposal to link any future support to improvements in soil health, air and water quality, alongside other measures to help reduce the impact of climate change. The question for farmers is how should they challenge, manage and adapt to those vague proposals? For many it could mean some tough decisions, as our experienced farmer explains. rRooting for profit provided by cover crops: Dr Sarah De Baets, lecturer plant-soil systems, Cranfield University.

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Cover crops have an important role to play in maintaining healthy soils – any farm’s most important asset. This presentation looks at the latest findings and recommendations from Cranfield’s BBSRC-funded project, which considers the impact of different cover crop rooting systems on various soil properties including structure, porosity and nutrient availability. Trials this season will look at a range of species best suited to reducing soil resource losses and enhancing crop growth. rCrop establishment – it pays to be precise: Matt Ward, agronomist and services leader, advisory and agronomy business, Farmacy. Precision drilling of cereals using variable seed rates, based on soil type and previous yield data, can improve crop yield and quality; optimise seed utilisation and boost profitability on every suitable hectare. There are a number of systems available, but how do you go about selecting the best for your farm?

How farmers manage their soils and find more innovative ways of keeping them healthy will be critical WILL GEMMILL

OCTOBER 2019 AF Oct p38 39 Croptec Seminars RM AD MC TR.indd 3

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MACHINERY SPRAY APPLICATION A drive to save chemical costs and avoid environmental impacts has put sprayer buyers’ focus on nozzle control. Jane Carley looks at pulse width modulation and how it is being used.

On the pulse of sprayer control


ulse width modulation (PWM) is control of a conventional hydraulic nozzle using a rapidly cycling electric solenoid, allowing application rates to be adjusted independently of pressure. Its operation is governed by the speed which the solenoid

can be switched on/off, expressed in Hz, while the duty cycle (DC) – the length of time the valve remains open during each cycle – determines the amount of liquid released. Higher duty cycles maintain the chosen application rate at lower pressure, so the droplet spectrum can be maintained

without having to change the nozzle, enabling the sprayer to be operated at a wide range of speeds and, in the future, in variable rate applications.

boom end and decreasing it towards the centre to compensate for over- or under-dosing caused by the difference in speed at which the centre and outside of the boom travel around a turn. A number of systems have been developed by OEMs and sprayer component specialists.

Application rate The ability to control DC also provides turn compensation, increasing application rate at the

Sands JCapstan Ag Systems Inc., a farmer-run business from Kansas, supplies the PinPoint II Blended Pulse nozzle control system to a number of OEMs and it is currently being offered by R.J. Bateman and Sands Agricultural Machinery in the UK. PinPoint II controls flow and pressure at the nozzle using electric actuators which can switch individual nozzles on and off to give overlap control and turn compensation. ‘Blended pulse’ is an alternating pulse in which every second nozzle pulses identically. For example, operating at 50% DC, when any

given nozzle is on, adjacent nozzles are off, minimising the likelihood of skips. The system is monitored via the CapView II display, taking position and rate information from the rate controller which, in turn, displays the spray quality being produced. Sands sales manager Karl Rust says: “Turn compensation offers savings of 1.5-2% on chemical alone, while the pulsing action means the sprayer can operate at lower pressures, giving the benefits of air inclusion nozzles in less favourable spraying conditions,

The Capstan PinPoint II system fitted to a Sands Horizon sprayer.

while controlling droplet size. “The system is fitted to a standard Sands sprayer, although we’ve paid attention to keeping the cabling tidy along the boom, and the PWM units take over at the nozzle body. “Now boom stability and height control have improved

so much we can see nozzle control becoming the next priority for buyers and the best way to improve efficiency and environmental protection. “PWM adds 8-10% to the cost of the sprayer, not much more than individual nozzle control but with a number of advantages.”

AgriFac JAgrifac’s StrictSprayPlus system offers single nozzle sections, with every nozzle capable of being switched

on/off individually, plus turn compensation and pressureindependent rate control. StrictSprayPlus calculates the

Also in this section 46 Preparing combines for winter storage 49 On-farm: Future-proofing harvest 52 Highlights from Tillage Live


speed and required spraying rate for every nozzle and uses the value to determine how much each individual nozzle needs to spray. The flow is adjusted by the frequency, up to 100hz, and the open/close ratio. Recent trials by applications specialist Tom Robinson, using

fluorescent tracer dye, found StrictSprayPlus was effective at controlling droplet size in applications at forward speeds from 4-16kph, providing turn compensation, while the use of the individual nozzle control showed potential for variable rate work.


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Kuhn’s Autospray system uses Teejet’s DynaJet PWM hardware to give pulsing at 20hz.

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John Deere JThe first test machine fitted with John Deere’s ExactApply system has been working in the UK this year, featuring a four-nozzle turret and two-mode PWM – 15hz mode pulsing 15 times a second and 30hz mode pulsing 30 times a second. “Faster switching eliminates coverage gaps which can occur at lower speeds,” says JD sprayer specialist Mark James. “Working with our partner Hypro to match nozzles to applications required of our test sprayer, we found ExactApply can permit the same nozzle to be used for rates from 100-400 litres per hectare.”

Designs ExactApply’s individual nozzle switching system allows the sprayer to be used with nozzles which are not suited to PWM, such as air inclusion designs. The operator can also use one nozzle or a pair. Mr James says once the initial investment has been made, the operator is likely to use PWM for all applications since it gives much greater consistency of coverage and droplet size. “You could switch the pulsing off to use an air inclusion nozzle but can achieve similar coverage results with PWM and a 3D nozzle which sprays

John Deere’s ExactApply PWM body is being trialled in partnership with Hypro.

forwards and backwards. Drift could be tackled with a bigger nozzle at lower pressure. “Hypro has developed a low-drift twin pre-orifice nozzle for ExactApply and also offers a useful nozzle chart which shows the droplet size of common nozzles in microns for a specific pressure and recommends a suitable equivalent for the system.” ExactApply allows the operator to preset two chosen pressures in the Greenstar menu and select between them using the armrest control, with the nozzle duty cycle adjusted automatically to suit. Nozzles can also be switched via armrest buttons. Initially only available on the R4040i self-propelled sprayer, ExactApply adds about £26,000 to the cost of a 36m machine.

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MACHINERY SPRAY APPLICATION Teejet JTeejet’s latest Dynajet IC7140 operates at 20Hz and alternates signals between adjacent nozzles to improve spray distribution and reduce power requirement. It can

control up to 30 sections using the company’s rate controller. Using a Teejet or IsoBus terminal, the operator can specify droplet size ranges for

each application by selecting the spray tip and the desired size, which can also be adjusted on the move if conditions alter. The terminal also monitors the boom

position for turn compensation. However, PWM has limited compatibility with air inclusion nozzles, says Stephen Alley, Teejet regional sales manager.

In the field: J.G. Owen and Company, Shropshire JJ.G. Owen and Company, which farms 1,200 hectares near Shrewsbury, has specified Capstan Pinpoint II on a new 6,000-litre, 36-metre boom Sands Horizon II self-propelled sprayer. Partner Chris Owen says: “Turn compensation was a particular attraction as we have lots of small fields, with numerous poles in them, so we can slow down to work round them without changing application rates, and avoid overlaps. “We’re also planning to use the system for liquid fertiliser and individual nozzle control will allow us to switch off the nozzles immediately behind the wheels, offering further savings.” The ability to drop pressure without affecting application rate or speed in drifty conditions will be useful, says operator Chris Morgan. “On our previous machine, if we wanted to lower pressure we needed to reduce forward speed. There are limited ideal spray days on our hillier land, so being able to control drift without compromising application will be useful.” Nozzle selection was initially a concern, as Guardian Airs were used to tackle drift and had superceded an air sleeve system fitted to a previous sprayer. Capstan suggested the use of 04 nozzles for 100 litres/ ha and 08 for 200 litres/ha. Turbo Teejet pre-orifice 04 and 08 nozzles have been selected to offer drift reduction and nonair inclusion Hypro Guardian 06 will be used on potatoes. The


Left to right: Operator Chris Morgan, Sands sales manager Karl Rust and Chris Owen.

system is also compatible with BFS Autostreamers for fertiliser application. Karl Rust says: “An 08 is a big nozzle, but works well for PWM which can adjust the spray quality according to requirements.”

Valves Maintenance is said to be minimal. The dry running valves do not need to be stripped out and the constant blockage monitoring cuts wear and tear. Mr Morgan says: “High pulsing rates and high duty cycles could potentially wear the units, but we expect to minimise this with the

flexibility of the Capstan system. Replacement is about £100 each or £12 for a worn plunger.” He says he has found the system straightforward to use and will take time in the first season to establish the right combination of nozzles, duty cycle and forward speed for various applications. “We could use 04s at up to 15kph by increasing the duty cycle while maintaining the same pressure, or go up to 18kph with an 06 at 100 litres/ha, for example. There’s a wide range of options with different nozzles and this flexibility has to be one of the biggest advantages.”

The Capstan PWM body, separated to show the plunger, which activates the opening/ closing of the valve.


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SPRAY APPLICATION MACHINERY Kuhn and Berthoud “When a PWM valve is used in conjunction with certain air induction tips, the mixing chamber and air inlet can fill with water as the PWM valve cycles. “This can then result in water escaping

out the air inlet holes, which can lead to poor distribution. “However, new designs in air induction tips have been proven to work with PWM systems. “The Teejet AITTJ60 air inlet is located in close proximity to the mixing chamber and allows for efficient pressurisation of the chamber as the PWM valve cycles, which prevents liquid leaving inlet holes.” Teejet hardware is used in the development of PWM systems offered by several manufacturers.

rKuhn Kuhn Farm Machinery’s Metris and Deltis trailed sprayers can be specified with the Autospray 20Hz system rBerthoud Berthoud plans to introduce its latest Spraytronic system this autumn, which will incorporate an individual nozzle control version designed to enhance variable rate applications, available on the company’s Raptor self-propelled and Vantage trailed sprayers

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New combine in a CLAAS of it

The new CLAAS LEXION second generation range is taking the global combine ha work their way around the globe, Simon Henley visits farming enterprise AWT Fa with the range-topping LEXION 8900, and discovers how the new generation com LAAS introduced the LEXION combine harvester in 1997 and today it is recognised globally as one of the world’s most enduring high-capacity harvester ranges. Its success can arguably

be attributed to the continual development of the combines, however credit must also be given to the development of new operating system technologies, of which CLAAS has been a leading pioneer. The new second-generation CLAAS LEXION, designated the Thousand Series, extends the

LEXION range to seven models, including three wide-body and four standard body versions. Suitable for harvesting up to 1,800 hectares using a single combine, the new models include the range-topping 790hp LEXION 8900 (wide-body) and 549hp LEXION 7700 (standard body).

Threshing INTERNALLY, the new CLAAS APS SYNFLOW primary threshing system features a 57% larger (600mm) impeller and a 26% larger (755mm) threshing drum. The number of rasp bars on the drum has been increased to 10, while the concave has been redesigned with new interchangeable segments allowing up to 40% of them to be easily removed. CLAAS UK combine harvester specialist Adam Hayward says: “Customers increasingly want combines which are suitable for harvesting specialist crops, including herbage and grass seeds. “The pivoting concave bar, which can be adjusted from the cab, gives greater control of the threshing system, which suits a wider range of crops.” One such customer is A.W.T. Farm Services, which has relied on CLAAS LEXION combines for 20 years. Until now they have relied on two LEXION models – a 780 and a 760 – to harvest the 2,000 hectares of mixed combinable crops they grow in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. However, the arrival of a pre-production LEXION 8900 this harvest has given the company


Virtually everything has grown on this new machine Andrew Tetlow the confidence to reconsider returning to a single machine. “Virtually everything has grown on this new machine,” reports business partner Andrew Tetlow.


“This includes the drum, concaves, sieves, augers and, of course, the engine. With 790hp it’s certainly not short on power and we’ve seen a really substantial increase in output. It’s at the point where I think we could realistically drop the 760 for next harvest and run one big one on its own.” Crop flow has been improved with a neater flow line through the

combine. Residual grain separation is handled by twin rotors which operate at higher speed and feature a new rotor grate design. By positioning the rotors at a shallower angle, the new grates have increased the threshing area and are less aggressive on straw, which improves straw quality for baling. “It’s great having additional capacity, but a high-output combine has got to be capable of producing a decent sample as well. This pre-production 8900 has taken us completely by surprise. It’s not only chomping through a huge amount more crop in an hour, but the grain is significantly cleaner than before.”

New technology INTEGRATED into the driver’s seat is a new armrest control console with a CMOTION control lever. Quick-access keys along the side of the armrest are provided for operators who prefer not to use the LEXION turn-dial switch or the CEBIS touch-screen to set up and control the combine. Separately mounted, the CLAAS CEBIS screen introduces new software with logic specific to the LEXION range. This includes the new CEBIS-Touch display which uses a visual silhouette of the combine for instant identification of the harvester’s operating functions. CLAAS has also introduced an improved CEMOS combine automation system. There are now


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of its own

bine harvester market by storm. As 220 pre-production LEXION models continue to AWT Farm Services, Cambridgeshire, to find out more about the team’s experience ion compares to their existing LEXION combines. Grain capacity FOR the new range-topping 8900 model, there is the option of an 18,000-litre grain tank. This replaces the standard 15,000litre tank, increasing the capacity of the tank to about 14.4 tonnes of wheat (at 800g/litre). A new unloading auger design provides an unloading capacity of 180 litres per second and folds out to 103-degrees for improved visibility from the cab. Ben Latham says: “With twin augers in the bottom of the tank and a much bigger spout, the new combine takes just over a minute to empty its 15,000-litre hopper. It’s quite phenomenal.


y three grades of CEMOS, starting with an elementary Q&A version. A second version is CEMOS AUTOMATIC, or CEMOS in CEBIS, which is a fully automatic version integrated into the CEBIS touch-screen monitor. With CEMOS AUTOMATIC, the operator tells the combine what crop it is harvesting, the condition of the straw and whether the crop is laying or standing. From this point on, at the press of the autosteer button, CEMOS automatically monitors the combine’s functions and controls its forward speed based on the quality of grain sample it is producing. Operator Ben Latham says: “The whole new touch-screen CEBIS set-up is a real leap forward. The menus are easier to follow and can

be quickly accessed. I just hit the relevant part of the combine graphic on the screen and the settings menu for that function pops up. “The new CEMOS AUTOMATIC is really getting it right. It can adapt to changes in crop conditions so much faster than any operator. I have found it is just a case of inputting the crop type and then letting the combine sort itself out.


“The system is constantly adjusting itself to see what it can do better and the result is quite startling. It is really noticeable when a trailer takes one load off the 760 and another off the 8900. The difference in the sample is like night and day.

“You cannot achieve greater output or a better sample without using the CEMOS AUTOMATIC settings. It is a true ‘set-and-forget’ system, which leaves me to concentrate on what’s coming up, whether it’s laid crop, badger setts or lunch time.” His employer agrees. “CLAAS has consistently produced the highest capacity machines on the market and the new 8900 takes them ahead of the game once again,” concludes Andrew Tetlow. “We need the capacity to get over our acreage and to achieve our ultimate cost-saving goal of running one combine. The new LEXION 8900 looks like this might be possible.”

“The new driveline is much quieter and being able to switch between unloading at 180 litres/ second and 90 litres by shutting down one auger at a flick of a switch is just brilliant. “I tend to run it flat out to begin with and then top off the trailer at half speed. That way you take the pressure off the tractor drivers and avoid any spillages, while ensuring they are always getting a full load. “With such huge quantities of grain pouring out the spout it is important to make sure you’re hitting the target. “Now the auger swings even further forward, you’re not craning your neck to see it and can keep an eye on what the header’s doing at the same time,” adds Mr Latham.

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With the UK harvest complete, Alex Heath looks at what should be done before locking the com

Combine hibernation checklist


iven the importance of a reliable combine during harvest, making sure the machine goes into winter in the best shape possible will help to ensure it is ready to roll again the following season.

To find out what best practice is for bedding down the combine ahead of its winter hibernation, we spoke to Richard Allard, of Tallis Amos Group, and discussed some of the most contentious schools of thought when it comes to combine storage.

Cleaning JThe single most important factor with winter storage is ensuring the combine goes into the shed clean, says Mr Allard. By this, he means free of any crop residue, including straw and grain.

The best way to achieve this, he says, is with a high capacity compressor but, failing that, a leaf blower or standard air compressor with a long lance and soft brush will suffice. This will reduce the risk of

material decomposing and drawing moisture into metalwork, causing rusting. It also removes a food source for rodents. He says the combine should not typically be washed prior to storage. The only time washing should be considered is if the combine has been left outside over

harvest and rained on, causing straw to stick to the machine.

Moisture If time permits, washing it before the last 10 hectares or so needs cutting can be a good idea. Working the combine will then provide plenty of heat to expel any moisture from washing.

Fluids JWhile cleaning, it is a good idea to note down anything that looks awry, in readiness for the spring service. Oil levels should be checked and topped up. Mr Allard advises leaving the diesel tank brimmed, but recommends adding a diesel conditioner to stop bacterial growth. A full tank is said to limit the amount of condensation build-up in the tank. He acknowledges having close to 1,000 litres of diesel


sat over winter is an expense, but reckons it is worth it to limit the amount of water getting in the system. In addition, it is important to run the combine for sufficient time to allow the diesel conditioner to get around all the pipework. In terms of AdBlue, the tank should have enough to start and run the combine each month through winter, but no more, in order to prevent crystallisation.


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g the combine away in the shed until next year.

Remove covers JAll removable panels should be taken off and stored on a pallet over winter. This allows for air circulation around the machine, something vermin do not like. Grain elevators, stone trap and sieve covers, as well as those covering the separator, cleaning shoe and drum, should all, if possible, be removed.

All filters should be taken off, cleaned and replaced. Likewise, ensure the radiator is free of detritus.

Clear Carry out the cleaning process, then run the combine again to free any lingering material. Then go around with the air hose again until it is completely clear.

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MACHINERY COMBINES Storage JAs mentioned, good practice over winter is to get the machine up to temperature, stopping parts such as exhaust gas recirculation and throttle valves from sticking, and to disturb any furry infiltrators, as well as dispelling any moisture which may have built up. The shed in which the combine is stored over winter

is equally as important. An open front shed can be ideal for combine storage; it will be draughty, making it an unattractive place for rats, and it will also be lighter than a fully enclosed shed, something else rodents do not like. To control rodent populations, make sure bait is placed outside the shed. Baiting inside

the combine is counterintuitive, as bait is designed to attract rodents.

Draughty This principle also applies with the cab, which from experience, Mr Allard says, can be a bio-hazard zone come spring service, following six months of a spare

sandwich festering within. Give the cab a good clean out and blow down at the end of harvest and it will be a more pleasant place to sit the following year, he adds. When doing the monthly runup during winter, ensure the air-conditioning is turned on, as the gas has oil in it to lubricate the air conditioning pump.

Greasing JMr Allard advises greasing all points and running the machine up. All areas showing shiny steel should be sprayed with a light penetrating oil or hydraulic oil/ diesel mix. With the combine running and a good airflow, and as long as it is safe to do so, let some of the oil drift up through the combine, as this will give some protection to the machineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s internal components.

a heavy oil to lubricate the machineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chains. Areas of panel work which have been rubbed, such as the header coupling plate and the rear hitch, would benefit from a lick of paint. Likewise, straighten any panels or markers which may have met a gatepost.


Give any exposed ram rods a liberal coating, but where possible retract these so the chrome is not exposed. Use

Grease all the shafts and bearings on the header and give the multi-docker a good spray of thin oil. Where possible, also keep the header under cover. He advises painting bare metal on the header each year, but failing that, a good dose of oil should suffice.

â&#x20AC;&#x201C; something which cannot be done if it is on blocks. Tyre manufactures would suggest you rest the combine

on blocks and deflate the tyres, but Mr Allard says with modern rubber, problems are extremely rare.


Chains, belts and tyres JOne particular point up for debate is whether or not to slacken off belts prior to storage. Mr Allard says to preserve the belts and get maximum longevity out of them, tension should be released. However, this then prevents you from running up the combine and all of its functions over winter, which could lead to seized bearings. As such, it is up to the farmer or contractor to balance the cost of replacing belts or stuck on bearings and the likelihood of these situations occurring.


A similar discussion can be had with regards to tyres over winter, with two main schools of thought. Mr Allard says as long as the tyres are not exposed to direct sunlight and moved once per month on to a different spot, leaving them inflated should not cause any issues.

Heat Again, he recommends striking the combine up once per month, running it flat-out for half-an-hour to heat everything up and giving it a little run around the yard


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Manor Farm’s grain store facts rDimensions: 48 by 30 metre store rCapacity: Four, 750-tonne bays rDrying method: Underfloor ventilation rHeat source: Dual gas burners rAgitation: Gantry stirrer

Measuring 48 by 30 metres, the store features four, 750-tonne bays.

A World Heritage Site location added to the challenges faced by one Wiltshire farming business looking to upgrade its grain drying and storage. By Geoff Ashcroft.

Challenges steer grain store development We had to improve facilities and this meant changing the store’s location by a Kentra continuous flow dryer and cleaner. About 12-14t per hour capacity was the norm. Supervision “It all worked but just lacked throughput, and when we took on an additional 300ha in 2009, harvest got a little fraught. The system needed constant supervi-

BEN BUTLER sion, and with the arrival of larger trailers too, village traffic increased. We had to improve facilities and this meant changing the store’s location.” Trading as Butler Bros, the farm handles about 730ha of combinable

crops in a business which carries out 404ha of contract farming for four customers, in addition to its own crops and livestock at Manor Farm. Cropping includes winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, winter barley, spring barley and spring oats. The Butlers sought advice and embarked on a three-year journey for planning permission to develop new facilities on a brownfield site where its beef cattle and silage clamps were based, about half a mile from the village. Mr Butler reasoned that taking noise, dust and traffic out of the village – the latter seeing a reduction in vehicle movements by about one-third – would lead to a win-win scenario for all involved. “But planners would not

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hen your farm is located in the heart of a World Heritage site, getting permission from authorities to make any changes can challenge those with the patience of a saint. That is what Ben Butler, who farms with his father Robin, found as he sought to modernise drying and storage facilities at their 404-hectare Manor Farm in the village of Avebury Trusloe, Wiltshire, home to the largest Neolithic henge monument in Britain. “We had a series of 28 bins at Manor Farm,” says Mr Butler. “Half of them were 50-tonne bins and the remainder were 30t. All were undercover and fed

49 27/09/2019 11:21

TECHNICAL GRAIN STORAGE Grain is stored fourmetres deep in each 750-tonne bay.

allow us to build the grain store adjacent to the cattle yard, as a greenfield development,” says Mr Butler. “We had to shoehorn the new facilities onto an area occupied by two silage clamps and only then were we allowed to relocate the silage clamps onto the edge of the yard as a greenfield development – but this move came at considerable additional expense. “New clamps were deemed to pose less of a visual impact on the environment than a large grain store, despite the many advantages it offered,” he says. “And the amount of conditions imposed on the build were challenging.” The new store was limited to a footprint of 48 by 30 metres, but internally it has been split into four 750t bays. Planning constraints imposed a maximum overall height of less than 10m, with a shallow roof


pitch, and there were stipulations on the colour of cladding material and door colourings. Though problems with the original roof structure led to a change of roof – and roof colour – the revised building was eventually granted permission for photovoltaic (PV) panels. This has led to the harvesting of 50kW of solar energy, which now supplements the farm’s electricity demands. Ventilation “With help from T.H. White’s harvest installation team, we focused our attention to develop an on-floor system with underfloor ventilation,” he says. “They put elements of work out to tender and ran the project from start to finish. “Total store capacity is 3,000t and with this space divided into four equal partitions, each with

Where our old system used to need two weeks’ maintenance each winter, this one can be serviced in a day BEN BUTLER its own full-height door, we had some flexibility for storing different crop types.” Each pair of bays is serviced by a central air tunnel, with hatches to allow airflow under the crop. Each tunnel is fed by a pair of fans and a pair of LPG gas-fired burners in each fan house allows heat to be introduced on-demand. He says such a system was not an obvious choice but, with height restrictions imposed by planning, a tall dryer and a system of elevators was ruled out immediately. “I was sceptical about on-floor. But the system runs automatically, based on relative humidity. During the day, the fans pull warm, dry ambient air into the tunnels, with the burners firing when temperature

drops and humidity increases.” Challow drive-on flooring, Pellcroft Engineering control systems and Typhoon fans were installed, and both fan houses were heavily insulated. Planners also restricted fan power, all with the emphasis on reducing operational noise levels. The system was commissioned for the 2014 harvest, and, with five harvests now under their belt, has it lived up to the Butler Bros expectations? “It has been quite a shift away from what we were used to. And the first adjustment you need to make is not testing moisture in the store every hour or so – this is a system which you check every three or four days,” he says. Straightforward “But it is also a simple and straightforward system, one which operates very quietly. We check moisture going into store, then tip on the floor and push grain up with the telehandler,” he says. “Then we can go back to the field for the next load.” The tip-and-go is where harvest logistics have really improved, and this has eliminated the need for the combine to stop and wait for trailers. “You do not need to check on conveyor rates, adjust a burner or redirect grain flow, so turnaround times are short. And as each bay is progressively filled, we open


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27/09/2019 09:12

There are no longer any grain store bottlenecks to slow the combine down at Manor Farm.


A generous concrete apron makes it easy to manoeuvre and load lorries.

the underfloor hatches to allow grain to blow up through the heap.” Fans are powerful enough to lift grain, unless it is stored at least 3m deep. And a pair of extractor fans on each gable end are responsible for removing air from the building to prevent the build-up of condensation inside the roof space. Full-height electrically operated doors also simplify store access, enabling trailers to be fully tipped inside. This also simplifies store emptying too. “The building’s location in an existing yard also meant we could maintain a good concrete apron in front of it. As a result, there is plenty of room for artics to turn and park in the yard, which also simplifies truck loading.” Inside the store, grain stirring is managed by a travelling gantry – one is used for each pair of bays. “We would like one on each bay, but currently use a block and tackle to move them from one bay to the next,” says Mr Butler. “It takes an hour to move them. “The stirrers shorten the drying time three-fold and prevent a crust forming on the surface of grain, which is stored up to 4m deep,” he adds. “We have tipped grain into store at 22% and, over a period of two to three weeks, have brought this down to 14%,” he says. “It is a progressive process.” Without complex conveyor

routes, wet bins and an intake pit, he says mechanical simplicity is the key. And perhaps equally important is the introduction of a much safer working environment. Maintenance “There is nothing to block, nothing to bung up and nothing to break,” he says. “And where our old system used to need two weeks’ maintenance each winter, this one can be serviced in a day.” Supplementary storage comes from an adjacent straw barn which has been converted to grain use with the addition of a concrete floor and panelled walls, giving a further 600t of capacity. “Making the most of ambient temperatures, we do not burn much fuel. But electricity is now our major cost and, thankfully, this is offset by the PV panels.” He adds that one of the drawbacks is the system’s inability to cope with extremely wet grain. “A moisture content of about 22% is as high as we would cut, but combine capacity now holds the key to making the most of weather conditions and moisture content. And it is the same for sample quality – we do not have a cleaner in the revised store, because the combine does give us a great sample.” Harvesting is the domain of a New Holland CR8.90 with 9m

header, with 14t trailers taking care of haulage. Logistically, the farmed area is spread over a nine-mile radius from Avebury, and field sizes now encountered extend from 3-30ha. “We have to factor in lost production from combine moves,” he says. “There is not the convenience of moving

through ring-fenced land, which poses its own challenges. “But since we started using the new store we have improved harvest logistics considerably and never held the combine up waiting for trailers,” he says. “Perhaps the next logical step might be to push combine Draftwith Advertisement—Arable Farming” capacity a 35 or 40ft header. Oct 2019 Edition


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27/09/2019 09:12

MACHINERY TILLAGE LIVE J.T.S. Maverick Mid-Till tine cultivator

Knight Top-Till spri ng t

JNew to the cultivation game was a farm workshop-made cultivator by owner of J.T.S. Machinery, Jim Tarry. This one-off, four-metre folding cultivator is designed for primary cultivations. Bolted to the homemade framework, 11 McConnel-type legs are used to lift the soil from a depth of 300mm. Following these are a set of 10 Simba Cultipress tines, five of which are angled forwards and five straight. These break up lumps and are arranged in such a way to ensure soil and trash flow is not compromised.

JFresh out of the workshop for its first public perusal was Knight’s latest offering, the TopTill. This six-metre, secondary spring tine cultivator is aimed at farmers wanting fine seedbed cultivations, but without the expense in time and fuel a power harrow demands. The company says 200hp should be sufficient to pull it over ploughed land at its ideal working speed of 10-12kph. The machine is split into four sections across its width to allow some ground-following capability.

At the rear are a double set of discs, using Gregoire Besson components. There is no packer as the company says the open finish

will aid water infiltration and expose more soil to frost to further break it down. The company is gauging interest for delivery next year.

A decent autumn day and a vast airfield set the ideal backdrop to this year’s Tillage Live demonstrate their latest developments in the field. Alex Heath reports from Deenethorpe,

e N

Soil turning tackle o Kverneland DG II drill JIt was the first public outing for Kverneland’s latest high capacity drill, the DG II. On show was the 12-metre version, but a 9m set-up is also available. The former is equipped with 96 double disc CD coulters while the latter has 72. Both have 125mm row spacings. At the rear, the new toolbar has been improved to offer consistent pressure across the

working width. Up to 80kg of coulter pressure can be exerted. The IsoBus controlled drill offers the company’s own dual electrically-driven seed metering units feeding the simplified, hydraulic folding seed distribution heads. Each half of the drill is fed independently from a 6,000-litre seed hopper. Features include a hydraulic weight transfer system.

Bednar SwifterDisc disc harrow JOne of the biggest pieces of equipment making light work of its demo plot was the 12-metre wide SwifterDisc XE 12000 from Bednar. While not new, the company was talking excitedly about its latest developments due later this year. To help slot into 12m CTF systems, the company is


launching a 12.4m set. On top of this, it is also offering the option to reconfigure the orientation of the discs with its Profi line, which features an X pattern. This means the 520mm serrated discs on either side of the centre will face the opposite direction from each other in an effort to reduce ‘crabbing’.


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spri ng tine cultivator

Live horpe,

A set of levelling paddles on the front break up clods before they are pressed down with a toothed roller. Across five rows, 64 tines are arranged, aiding

soil and trash flow before a set of double crosskill rollers level and consolidate. The rear roller pivots against a rubber block to stop stones blocking it.

event, where manufacturers got to Northamptonshire.

e on show KRM Sola Ares 2713 drill JKeen to stress working with dedicated manufacturers was the best way forward, KRM was showing its Ares 2713 drill, built by Spanish firm Sola. The 4.8-metre drill on show was fitted with double disc coulters, although a tined option is available. Weighing two tonnes and equipped with a 2,000-litre hopper, the company says it suits farms with smaller

tractors which require wider working widths, but without the weight of trailed drills. Simple to operate, two positions are allowed for coulter pressure via a spring, generating a maximum of 37kg. A turn buckle arrangement is responsible for levelling the parallelogram linkage and depth control. GPS or wheeled metering are available, as are hydraulic or pto fan options.

ARE YOU FULLY COMPLIANT? WE CAN TEST ANY MAKE OF SPRAYER Covering all Russell and Hallmark depots our sprayer specialist Colin Webster has been working with sprayers for many years and is also a very experienced operator. Colin is here to help you with all aspects of sprayer operation and repair including fully certified NSTS testing, technical and operational assistance including variable rate application, section control and GPS guidance.

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OCTOBER 2019 AF OCT p52 53 54 Tillage RM MC JR TR.indd 3


53 27/09/2019 11:22

MACHINERY TILLAGE LIVE Cousins Disc Packa short disc harrow JCousins of Emneth was showing its Disc Packa. This heavy-duty short disc harrow features two rows of 510mm-diameter scalloped discs, spaced 250mm apart. At the rear, a double razor ring packer presses soil back

down. Depth adjustment of both elements is hydraulically adjustable. The company says its fourmetre hydraulic folding model, which weighs 4,640kg, requires 150hp on the front. LED lights are now standard.

Ziegler Disc Master Pro disc harrow JImporters Abrey Agricultural took the opportunity to show its range of Ziegler cultivation tools. The company is now importing the full range of tined cultivators and rolls, as well as what it reckons will be a popular addition to the disc harrow market. The Disc Master Pro on show was the five-metre 5001 model, but the range runs from 3m

to 7m. Distance between the 560mm discs is 900mm. Adjustment is hydraulic, both on the drawbar and packer roller, of which there are multiple options. Wheels are now positioned between the discs and packer, allowing time for the soil to settle before consolidation. A levelling board option for the front is coming in the new year.

ProForge Inverta Max Pro disc harrow JFor those with tough, hard to penetrate ground, Agri Linc was showing its Inverta Max Pro, working in public for the first time. Built on the same principles as its standard Inverta Max, it is 50% heavier at 6,500kg for the five-metre machine on show. Sealed SKF bearings keep

its 620mm discs spinning, which are able to work down to 125mm. The wheels on this model are now in the middle, allowing a double soil to soil packer to be used. It folds into three sections, lowering transport height, and is also available in working widths of 4m and 6m.

Amazone CombiDisc combi-drill JDesigned for those who want the benefits of a disc cultivating drill without the expense of some of the alternative options on the market, Amazone was working its Combi Disc 3000, mounted underneath its Centaya seeding unit. Fine serrated, 410mm discs are arranged in two rows, with a choice of packer rollers at the rear. The cultivator is 300kg lighter than a power harrow, but 200mm longer, so weight


on the tractorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rear linkage is roughly the same. However, the company says drilling speeds of up to 15kph are achievable, with far less fuel consumed than a typical combi-drill.

Saving There is also said to be a significant price saving over the pto alternative. However, the company reckons the disc cultivator will appeal most to those who want to run both.


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24/09/2019 17:07

Registration now open!

LAMMA’20 set to build on success of NEC debut LAMMA’20, will continue to offer free entry and car parking, building on the event’s reputation as the most diverse and innovative machinery, equipment and services show, covering all sectors of the farming industry under one roof.

Over 700 exhibitors - with 95% of stands already booked, the 11 halls will be packed with exhibitors introducing ground-breaking innovations to the market.

Farming 4.0 Zone - a look at tomorrow’s farming and how technology will help sustain the

future of food production

Farm Safety Zone - will assess and improve your on-farm safety, sponsored by Safety Revolution

Innovation Trail - follow the Innovation Trail, showcasing award-winning exhibitors and their products

CPD points - Collect BASiS, DairyPro & NRoSO points on each day of the event Impressed @lammashow today. Lots of kit and farmers. I always felt when our industry lost Smithfield and The Royal we lost more than the events themselves. It was good to witness what felt like a statement of faith in the future of UK ag at the NEC Guy Smith, NFU Vice-President & Essex Farmer

Registration now open! Register for your free ticket at Sponsors

AF_10_P55.indd 1

25/09/2019 16:31


Field lab trials focus on ma A farmer group trial has shown that using digestate plus cover crop treatments raises the soil’s overall nitrogen content. Andrew Blake reports.


ecent AHDB-funded work suggests cover crops could help maximise the value of the by-product of anaerobic digestion (AD). Now a further year’s ‘field lab’ work aims to confirm that finding and pinpoint just how much nitrogen, which might otherwise be lost by volatilisation or leaching, can be retained for following crops. The Digestate Innovative Farmers field lab* is one of 11 such labs supported by AHDB and run by Innovative Farmers**, a non-profit network enabling farmer-led research. AD digestate is a good source of nitrogen and other nutrients, notes Laura Bouvet who is leading the work. She says: “The project started in 2017, but the nature of the trial – it needed to fit around the farm businesses and there was adverse weather at key milestones – has meant some information was incomplete or delayed in the initial stages. “But last year’s harvest produced promising results.” The work involves six farmers

in Norfolk and Suffolk, all with AD plants in their businesses. Their land ranges across light sandy loam, sandy clay loam, loam and sandy black soil and, following autumn digestate dressings, they grow maize, field vegetables and sugar beet. Their trial fields are split into a control side and treatment side – a simple set-up allowing the research to be integrated into their normal operations, explains Mrs Bouvet. “The design is effective as it can accommodate the range of soil types and crops grown across the group and allows for broad conclusions to be drawn when the data is collected.” Designed With NIAB’s help, the farmers designed the trial and chose the analyses and measurements to be taken. The treatments, applied using their own standard application methods in the autumn, include: rControl: No cover crop (CC) + no AD digestate (ADD) rCC only rCC + low ADD (25 cu.m/ha) rCC + high ADD (50 cu.m/ha) “Cover crops are particularly

Most farmers in the group already include cover crops as part of their rotations LAURA BOUVET

56 AF Oct p56 57 RIA RM MC TR.indd 2

AD digestate is a good source of nitrogen and other nutrients.

helpful if a farmer needs to apply anaerobic digestate later in the year due to lack of storage or for particular crops growing over winter as it helps justify late use in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones,” says Mrs Bouvet. “Most farmers in the group already include cover crops as part of their rotations.” Yield data is collected and used to determine nutrient use efficiency. Worm counts, green area indices of cover and following crops and soil structure assessments are also conducted, and soil samples analysed for available nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, pH and organic matter.

“This suggests that cover crops do retain N,” says Mrs Bouvet. That positive effect has also been seen in the soil’s organic matter content, but the impact on other nutrients is less conclusive, she admits. Among the other aims of the follow-up field lab (2019-2020) are a better understanding of the effect of digestate on soil microbiology and assessing the economics behind the practice. “Identifying the cost-benefit ratio for the field lab trial will be important,” says Mrs Bouvet.

Cover crop The cover crop (see panel) is a mixture of vetch, black oat and fodder radish, plus a small amount of buckwheat. In most cases the results show that in digestate plus cover crop treatments digestate raises the soil’s overall nitrogen content, but in the deeper layers the N level decreases.

OCTOBER 2019 27/09/2019 09:13


making most of digestate Trial participant case study

Cover crop mixture JThe cover crop mixture used in the trial contains black oat, fodder radish, vetch and Buckwheat. Mrs Bouvet says: “Black oat is resilient to cold, drought and disease and provides good root structure well below a metre in most conditions. “Fodder radish is also resilient to low temperatures and has a robust, thick taproot, which is not as deep as the oat but helps to maximise injection of organic matter to break up the soil. “Vetch has a fine root but has a highly beneficial impact on root exudates beneficial to

the soil microbial community and is a nitrogen fixer via root nodules. “Buckwheat helps maximise phosphate sequestration and has the advantage of dying at the first severe frost, thus initiating microbial activity in early spring. “All species, bar the fodder radish, are strongly mycorrhizal and help develop a healthy inoculum potential for the following crop. “The vetch may struggle a little to overwinter, but is worth including assuming an early August drilling date,” she says.

The project involves six farmers in Norfolk and Suffolk, all with AD plants.

JAllpress Farms, near Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, installed an anaerobic digester in 2015. The family-owned business farms more than 1,000 hectares producing leeks, onions, wheat, sugar beet and maize. Farm director Patrick Allpress says: “After its commissioning, we wanted to know more about the true value of the digestate slurry. “We wanted to measure its value and influence on our soils. We also wanted to know how to manage the digestate and determine the best way to apply it for optimum crop uptake. “Given NVZ restrictions we needed to be clear that we were operating correctly. “So we approached NIAB which is strongly connected to Agri-Tech East, and it suggested we join Innovative Farmers to plan a digestate trial. The other trialists all have their own AD plants with different feedstocks, but all face the same conundrum – optimising digestate use.”

Replace Mr Allpress hopes the trials will show digestate can partially replace inorganic fertilisers. But autumn applications place nutrients in the soil six months ahead of following spring crops, he points out.

We wanted to know more about the true value of the digestate slurry PATRICK ALLPRESS “The value of those nutrients, especially nitrogen, could easily be lost over this period on light soils and is hard to measure. I was concerned this potential loss was wasteful and could be having a negative environmental impact,” he says. “The key to the trial is taking measurements and putting some science behind our actions as farmers. It is exciting being involved in assessing how to stabilise soil nitrogen by using cover crops and examining digestate’s impact on soil microbiology. “It is still too early to tell what influence digestate is having on soil biology and overall yield, but there’s a general feeling within the group that putting more carbon back into the soil and increasing biological activity can only result in better soil structure for root development in crop production.”

Programme details r*Co-ordinated by Agri-Tech East with research partner NIAB and input from Cranfield University r**Innovative Farmers is part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme – backed by LEAF,

Innovation for Agriculture, The Organic Research Centre and the Soil Association r*** Cost: Up to £10,000 – part of overall £224,000 March 2019-March 2020 investment in 11 field labs

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57 27/09/2019 09:13

NEW products From next autumn, UK growers will for the first time have the option of a genetic rather than agchem solution to the control of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) in wheat. Teresa Rush reports.

BYDV-resistant wheat for planting next autumn


lant breeding business RAGT Seeds has announced it is to launch RGT Wolverine, an elite winter wheat variety with a high, although not complete, level of resistance to BYDV, in autumn 2020. Cereal and oilseed product manager Tom Dummett says: “RAGT is the first breeder in Europe to offer a BYDV-resistant wheat and the trait is now successfully established in some of our elite material.” RGT Wolverine’s resistance to BYDV originates from goat grass (Thinopyrum intermedium), which is a distant relative of wheat.

The withdrawal of neonicotinoid seed treatments has left growers reliant on post-emergence foliar insecticides to control BYDV-transmitting aphids.

A genetic segment from Thinopyrum containing the Bdv2 resistance gene has been translocated onto a wheat chromosome via an Australian research line.

The BYDV threat rBarley yellow dwarf virus infection can result in a yield loss of up to 60% in wheat rSpread by grain aphid and bird cherry aphid rPost-emergence pyrethroid aphicide applications are less persistent than now-withdrawn neonicotinoid seed treatments and so several applications may be required through the autumn and beyond rPyrethroid spray applications increase selection for pyrethroid resistance among grain and bird cherry aphid vectors of BYDV; there is


known resistance in aphid populations rTrapping methods to assess BYDV risk are unreliable as a result of uneven spatial variation of aphids in the field and difficulty in identifying aphid species in traps rBiological insecticide solutions, although potentially useful, are in their infancy rNew insecticide active sulfoxaflor is claimed to control pyrethroid-resistant aphids but is not yet registered Source: Keith Norman Consulting

BYDV-resistant wheat varieties have been available in Australia for more than 15 years and have recently been introduced in the United States. The breakthrough in European material comes in the wake of the withdrawal in 2018 of neonicotinoid seed treatments for wheat, which has left growers relying on post-emergence foliar insecticides to control BYDV-transmitting aphids. Sector RGT Wolverine is aimed at the Group 4 hard feed sector and is up for AHDB Recommended List candidate variety trials selection this autumn. Close to 3,500 tonnes of seed are expected to be available next autumn. The variety comes with a strong agronomic profile, including high yields, good specific weight and good resistance to septoria tritici and yellow rust. It will be sold via

the Breeders Intellectual Property Office (BIPO) system, which means the value of the trait will be charged directly to farmers on an area basis, rather than by seed tonnage. This means growers buying RGT Wolverine seed will pay £33/ha plus the cost of the seed. According to independent consultant and former Velcourt technical director Keith Norman, BYDV-resistant wheat offers a number of benefits for growers. Although the crop protection costs may be similar to an insecticide programme – a three-spray programme costs about £31.50/ha including application costs – reducing the number of insecticides applied will benefit the environment and beneficial insects, he says. “By growing resistant wheat, the risk of virus is reduced following mild winters, as is the risk from spring infection in winter cereals,” Mr Norman adds. Entomologist and crop protection consultant Dr Alan Dewar hopes growers will make the most of genetic resistance to BYDV as it becomes available and take the opportunity to reduce the number of pyrethroid sprays applied and boost insect biodiversity in crops. “If you have a resistant variety, have faith in it. If you can control BYDV you don’t need to worry about controlling aphids,” he says.


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26/09/2019 12:09


A gene from a wild relative has been translocated on to a wheat chromosome to deliver BYDV resistance in wheat.

The genetics JDifficulties in studying the BYDV pathogen and developing a reliable genetic marker have meant progress in identifying resistance has been slow. With no known resistance to BYDV in the wheat gene pool, introgression, the movement of a gene from the gene pool of one species to another by repeated backcrossing, from grasses related to wheat has been the sole source of resistance to the virus. The effectiveness of the Bdv2 resistance trait sourced from goat grass and expressed in RGT Wolverine has been clearly demonstrated in a series of laboratory and field experiments, says RAGT Seeds. Laboratory tests have demonstrated the resistance is to the virus itself, rather than any ability to ward off aphids, although the actual resistance mechanism is not well understood. RAGT cereal pathologist Dr Ruth Bryant says: “ELISA tests confirmed that the resistant lines rarely tested positive for

virus, while the susceptible lines nearly always did.” In field trials, two UK Recommended List varieties and RGT Wolverine were tested at Ickleton in Cambridgeshire, Bleasby in Lincolnshire and Haywold in Yorkshire. Plots were sown early to maximise BYDV development and were inoculated with BYDV-infected aphids soon after emergence.

Symptoms RGT Wolverine showed almost no symptoms at the Cambridge and Yorkshire sites, while the controls showed clear signs of infection. At the Lincolnshire site, infection levels were much higher but RGT Wolverine had significantly fewer symptoms, says RAGT Seeds. “The visual results confirm that the presence of Bdv2 in RGT Wolverine provides good resistance to BYDV,” says Dr Bryant. The confirmation, using ELISA testing, of the presence of the three main BYDV strains identified in the UK – PAV,

Visual results confirm that the presence of Bdv2 in RGT Wolverine provides good resistance to BYDV DR RUTH BRYANT

MAV and RPV – indicates the resistance is broad spectrum, she adds. Experience in Australia is said to indicate the resistance will be durable. Two Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) varieties, Manning and Mackellar, have maintained significantly higher yields compared with BYDV-

susceptible varieties when BYDV pressure is high. RAGT Seeds cereal geneticist John Baison says: “Now, 16 years after their release, they still outperform all other varieties in this situation. This suggests the resistance is durable and gives us confidence to introduce it into the UK market.”

Durability The fact the Bdv2 resistance is not complete also bodes well for durability, as this will exert less pressure on the virus to adapt, suggests RAGT Seeds. In more recent developments, in the United States, the University of Minnesota has released a new, hard red spring wheat variety, MN-Washburn, with Bdv2. And in New Zealand Marker Assisted Selection is being used to develop new lines. RAGT Seeds has a further four lines in trials, two with a quality background and two feed varieties with yields similar to those of RGT Wolverine, plus the added benefit of orange wheat blossom midge resistance.

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Wednesday 27th & Thursday 28th November 2019 East of England Showground, Peterborough

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25/09/2019 16:17


TOM Bradshaw Planting an OSR crop and crossing your fingers cannot be acceptable


hen we reflect on the 2019 harvest it is very easy to miss the biggest anomaly in the figures. The oilseed rape area, or oilseed risk as some have now affectionately named it, produced the lowest yield in more than 15 years. Where once upon a time the UK was regularly producing an exportable surplus, we are now struggling to feed the insatiable appetites of the UK crush and are reliant on imports to fill the gap. I have written before about the difficulty of growing OSR. It was September last year, and at the time we thought it was down to the extreme drought of the 2018 summer.

About the author rNFU Combinable Crops board chairman Tom Bradshaw farms with his family near Colchester, Essex rThe business also provides contract farming services on 1,200 hectares of combinable crops and 20ha sugar beet rHe is BASIS and FACTS qualified and a Nuffield scholar rThe farm operates a flexible rotation, growing wheat, barley (winter and spring), winter beans and spring oats

With the rainfall ahead of and during harvest this year we were more hopeful the OSR crops for harvest 2020 would establish more successfully. Unfortunately, it seems that unless they were drilled in the first 10 days of August many crops are struggling with flea beetle, mainly due to the dry weather since drilling. The difficulty is that early planting was generally not thought to be agronomically the best for high yields with later August and early September thought to be better, but they now seem to carry much more risk. However, the rulebook no longer applies – it really is a case of rolling the dice and putting the chips on red or black. Techniques Many have tried all sorts of different integrated pest management (IPM) techniques, such as catch crops, companion crops, trap crops, leaving stubbles long, leaving crop residue, baling straw, chopping straw, and all and none seem to work depending upon the weather after drilling. For anyone who is unaware, I feel I must point out that when the neonicotinoids were banned we predicted exactly this scenario and that we would be reliant on imports of OSR which had been produced using products that are now illegal in the UK. The environmental NGOs said we were

crying wolf and they continue to try and produce evidence that the OSR crop hasn’t suffered. They are unwilling to look at the total UK production and the harvested area. The other number that we desperately need to get a proper handle on is the area which is lost between planting and harvest because this gives a true reflection of the gamble that farmers are now taking when they decide to put seed in the ground. Uncertainty Why am I writing about this again? We simply cannot afford for Defra to accept that this situation is the norm – planting a crop and crossing your fingers cannot be acceptable. With all the uncertainty surrounding future trade deals we somehow need to get the message across that the future of the arable rotation is being undermined by the decisions of others. Imports, produced using neonicotinoids and likely to be produced using GM, are capping the sale price of the OSR produced in the UK, meaning the increased level of risk is not being rewarded. We need investment in real IPM and we also need support in carrying the risk. We have talked about an equivalence payment before, and I personally can’t see a better way of trying to mitigate against things outside of the grower’s control.

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61 26/09/2019 15:04

BASIS news

The latest news for BASIS and FACTS-qualified farmers and advisers.

Becoming a chemical storekeeper


hen a consignment of plant protection products arrives on a farm, few will give much thought to its journey from manufacturing plant – often in another part of the world – to the point of delivery. Even fewer will think about how it was stored before being placed on the delivery vehicle for that final journey down a farm drive. However, it will have come from one of hundreds of professional distribution stores scattered across the country and operated by well-qualified individuals, known as nominated storekeepers (NSKs). Those who hold these roles are a legal requirement for distributors. The 1986 Control of Pesticides Regulations require pesticide stores involved in sale and supply and holding professional

An online course means individuals can train at times that suit them STEPHEN JACOB

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pesticide products must have at least one member of staff with a Certificate of Competence in storage. NSK is a professional qualification run by BASIS Registration. Achieving NSK status requires two days’ training covering a wide range of topics, starting with the basics of store structure, including matters such as bunding to prevent chemical loss from leakage. The way a store is stocked is important to minimise potential problems, for instance liquids are stored below powders and granules, thus a leaking liquid does not cause problems by dripping on to powders. Safety Safety is paramount for a plant protection product store. NSKs are trained in both the equipment needed to deal with spillage, leaks and outbreaks of fire, and how to use the equipment. They also learn about safe handling, including safe ways of lifting. And, should the worst happen, the BASIS NSK syllabus includes first aid. Stock control is increasingly important as many products are re-registered, often with new labels and new MAPP numbers. Also, a significant number of products have had authorisations withdrawn, although often there will be a permitted period

BASIS has launched an online course to keep qualified NSKs up to date.

during which they can be sold and used – known as a ‘use up’ period. Storekeepers ensure only products that are legally authorised for use are delivered to farmer customers. Record keeping may not be the most exciting topic, but it is a vital part of good store management. Not only does it inform what products are available for distribution to farm, it is also vital in the event of fire to ensure fire fighters know what they are dealing with. Agrochemical stores are subject to an array of fast changing regulations, including health and safety, product storage and use of handling equipment. To help established storekeepers stay up to date, BASIS Registration has launched a new refresher course for qualified NSKs. This online course has been devised in response to

industry demand for ways to update storekeepers. BASIS chief executive Stephen Jacob says: “An online course means individuals can train at times that suit them and their workload. “Participants can work at their own pace whenever and wherever they choose through the course, which includes voice-over presentations and videos.” Assessed The course is assessed through 10 multiple choice questions that have to be answered within 30 minutes. While most NSKs work for agrochemical distributors and contractors, the course is available to anyone managing an on-farm store. Some NSKs are happy to share their expertise by giving advice to farmer customers on how to ensure correct storage of products once they are delivered to the farm.

OCTOBER 2019 27/09/2019 09:13

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Arable Farming - October 2019  

Arable Farming - October 2019