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April 2014

Talking Agronomy Neil Buchanan, Sam Patchett & Sarah Symes Pages 19-23 www.arablefarming.com

CEREAL DISEASE Yellow rust - a global dimension

Roots kit On track to spread the load

Slug control Options in potatoes post-methiocarb

Precision farming

Sugar beet

Pushing the boundaries of controlled traffic farming

Innovation in action for progressive arable farmers

It all starts with the soil

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a word from the



t is good at long last to see some activity in the fields. Spreaders and sprayers are most definitely on the move and with the welcome sunshine, a tentative start to moving soil has been made by some. Our conversations with growers and agronomists this week (second week of March) suggest lighter soils are workable, but anything heavier requires a little more patience. Let’s hope the good weather lasts. Recent weeks have seen two significant developments on the agchem stewardship front, which hopefully will help safeguard some key active ingredients for the foreseeable future. The so-called ‘zero metaldehyde’ initiative proposed last autumn by industry steering body the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group is underway, with pilot projects in place in Hertfordshire and Warwickshire and two further planned in the Anglian Water and Thames Water areas in time for this autumn’s pelleting campaign. At the launch of the first two pilot catchments, it was heartening to see the range of organisations committed to finding a workable solution to the metaldehyde in water issue, and even more so to hear from two of the farmers helping to get the Mimmshall Brook scheme in Hertfordshire up and running. As you might expect from farmers, they are taking a pragmatic approach but they are to be applauded for taking on the zero metaldehyde use challenge and getting involved. I am sure their experiences and observations will be of



considerable help to growers and agronomists nationwide. A further development has been the Chemicals Regulation Directorate’s decision to permit the use of 3* low drift nozzles as mitigation for applications of plant protection products to broad acre arable and grassland crops. Insecticide chlorpyrifos is a key product affected by the move, for which stewardship group Say No to Drift has been campaigning since 2012. With large numbers of active ingredients being lost as a result of legislation, the decision will hopefully help retain at least some important products for farmers battling to deal with the challenges of crop protection and managing resistance development. If the contributions of our columnists this month are anything to go by, the next few weeks are set to be very busy indeed. But I do hope you will find time to take a look at some of the ideas and technology – from gene sequencing research in wheat yellow rust to precision yield mapping of potatoes, via controlled traffic farming in sugar beet – filling our pages this issue.

Editor Teresa Rush 01787 282 822 teresa.rush@arablefarming.com

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CONTENTS april Volume 36 Issue 3

New markets Business

There are bright prospects for arable sector exports

16-18 Comment

4-6 8-13 19-22 24 New!

Latest news Talking Arable Talking Agronomy Talking Agronomy Roots

Regulars 14-15 16-18 38-39 64

Market analysis Business feature Research in Action BASIS news

Cereal disease

Technical feature

26-36 2


Expert views on wheat disease threats, control options, rates, mixes and timings

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Precision farming Profitable roots

How growers are leading the way

Slugs & spuds


Potato focus

Views on control options post-methiocarb


Variable rate cultivations



Cutting costs and improving weed control?



AF Apr p4 5 6 News TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:23 Page 1


Ageing energy grid holding back farm renewables

JBritain’s ageing electricity grid is holding back the UK’s renewable energy industry, experts have claimed. Wind turbine and solar power company Hallmark Power says the energy grid is operating close to full capacity and will soon be unable to cope with new sources of renewable energy. The firm says this is likely to hit farmers looking at renewable options, as the ageing grid will put a particular strain on the small-scale wind turbine sector, especially in isolated areas of the country. National grid Mark Chamberlain from the firm said: “The national grid is so unstable at the moment it will often cut off sources of renewable and other energy, just because it cannot cope with the amount of power being fed into it. “The energy industry is suffering huge problems because of the lack of grid connectivity which is the incapability of the grid to carry more electricity.” Mr Chamberlain said in 99% of the firm’s projects, the biggest challenge was obtaining access to the grid, especially in rural areas. He said: “In some areas the households are completely offgrid and generating their own energy is their only solution.” The firm added the ageing grid is likely to lead to increasing numbers of power cuts around the UK.


MEPs accused of ‘backward step’ on seed regulations EPS have rejected draft ‘seed regulation’ which would have drastically altered EU legislation on seeds and seed marketing. The European Commission’s controversial draft text on the legislation was overwhelmingly rejected by 650 votes to 15, prompting an angry response from EU seed businesses and the NFU. Much of the EU’s legislation governing plant reproductive material dates back to the 1960s and 1970s. The Commission was concerned the legislation was fragmented and needed updating and sought to merge 12 legislative directives into a single regulation. Supporters of the proposals, including the NFU, say they would ensure far greater flexibility in the sourcing of seeds on farm, to help guard against shortages. Critics included Scottish MEP Alyn Smith who says the proposals will affect the ‘freedom of operators working in specific sectors,



hitting small-scale seed breeders in particular’. ‘Backwards step’ The NFU describe the vote as a ‘backwards step and a missed opportunity to help increase the resilience of UK arable farms’. NFU chief arable adviser Guy Gagen says the legislation was intended to clampdown on people selling significant volumes of seed under false pretences, or at least without going through the proper processes. He said: “No one is going to chase anyone from a garden centre, allotments, or even small organic farms. “It is when you start making a business out of something called seed, but with no checks made whatsoever on it, you are

What happens next? rIf the European Council of Ministers supports Parliament’s rejection, the legislation process will end. However, the Council could amend the original Commission proposal, in which case the legislation

would go back to Parliament. This could ‘kill the legislative proposal for good’ or start negotiations with the Council on the final wording of the new seed legislation.

going to be challenged by the Commission.” Former NFU combinable crops board chairman Andrew Watts said MEPs have thrown away the opportunity to ‘ensure far greater flexibility in the sourcing of seeds on-farm to help guard against shortages’. He said: “The debate seems to have been hijacked by an often factually incorrect media campaign which has got in the way of real progress.” He added farmers will now continue to be penalised by ‘archaic legislation which has failed to recognise the necessary changing business structures within the arable sector’. Concerns Soil Association head of horticulture, Ben Raskin said the association shared MEPs’ concerns the directive could ‘have a devastating effect on small and medium-sized seed suppliers’. “We believe the control and supply of seeds should not lie in the hands of a few large companies, which could ultimately be the result of such a proposal.”

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Loss of slug controls could cost industry £100m a year

JThe withdrawal of slug control products from the market could cost UK farmers and growers £100 million a year, AHDB has warned. The levy body has announced plans to invest in a programme of slug research projects to develop new control methods by combining £300,000 of levy funds with ‘potentially significantly’ greater external sources of funding. The move is driven by the recent vote by EU member states to revoke the use of methiocarb, the second most commonly used molluscicide in the UK. AHDB says a ‘close eye’ is also being kept on the most widely deployed, metaldehyde-based slug pellets. HGCA estimates the total average annual cost to the UK industry from not using pesticides to control slugs in wheat and oilseed rape alone at £43.5m per year. Report author Caroline Nicholls, HGCA research and knowledge transfer manager, says the figures highlight the economic importance of slug control to UK growers. ■ More on slug control, see pages 50-51 and page 63.


CRD recognition of role of low drift nozzles welcomed

he consortium behind the Say NO to DRIFT stewardship campaign for insecticide chlorpyrifos has welcomed the UK Chemicals Regulation Directorate’s (CRD) decision to recognise low drift nozzles as a risk mitigation measure for applications of plant protection products to broad acre arable and grassland crops. Since 2012, the initiative has sought to demonstrate growers are prepared to use low drift


nozzles to help protect surface water and retain the insecticide. The consortium, which comprises the major UK approval holders of products containing chlorpyrifos, says the move will help farmers retain essential plant protection products currently on the market but threatened by increasingly stringent regulatory requirements. Buffer zones The CRD announcement details practical measures such

as setting buffer zones in multiples of six metres - consistent with many commonly used farm sprayers - up to a maximum 18 metres in conjunction with low drift threestar (3*) LERAP rated nozzles. Many farmers already use these nozzles successfully, but for new users, further education schemes will be needed to support adoption and to achieve compliance with both the new scheme, as well as existing LERAP measures, said the consortium.

Protecting surface water with 3* low drift nozzles rAuthorisations will specify use of three star drift reduction technology (DRT) and a buffer zone of six metres, 12m or 18m (as necessary for each crop) as statutory conditions rBuffer zones will be fixed for each crop regardless of the size of the watercourse or body and application rate used, and no further reduction will be possible (eg under LERAPs) rThe buffer zone distance

must be recorded in Section A of the LERAP record form, which must be kept available for three years rA second buffer zone will be specified beyond which the requirement for 3* DRT will not apply. This is to protect watercourses from higher rates of drift arising from use of standard spraying equipment and operating conditions. Based on a worst case assessment, all authorisations

will specify that standard spray equipment and operating conditions can be used more than 30m from watercourses rThere is a potential impact on the efficacy of products where 3* drift reduction technology is used and so the label phrase ‘effectiveness using three star drift reduction technology may be reduced’ will be applied to products where authorisation is granted on this basis Source: CRD

Parliament, the Council and the Commission, over the past two years. While the MEPs endorsed the broad package of measures introducing new common standards for vehicle checks, they agreed to exempt agricultural vehicles. This followed intense lob-

bying from the industry, which was backed by member states on the EU Council of Ministers. NFU vice-president Guy Smith said: “This is a fantastic result following the lobbying efforts by the NFU’s office in Brussels and is a victory for common sense.”

MEPs ditch plans for tractor and trailer MOTs

JThe European Parliament has ditched plans to introduce new MOT-style testing for many agricultural vehicles including tractors and all livestock trailers. The proposals, part of the EU’s wider ‘Roadworthiness Package’, would have required all ‘O2’ graded trailers, such as

a normal livestock trailer towed behind a four wheel drive vehicle, as well as standard tractors, to be subject to the MOT-style testing. In a full plenary vote in Strasbourg MEPs rejected the proposals, which have been debated at length between the three EU institutions, the



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Co-op to sell off arable farms

JThe Co-operative Group has announced it is to sell off its arable farms as part of a massive reorganisation. Co-op Group’s 15 farms are mostly arable but do supply a small proportion of the food for Co-operative stores. Head of food and farming at the NFU, Phil Hudson, who has been in talks with the retailer about the impact of the decision, said: “This is a really disappointing decision by the Co-op. From our perspective now it is important we get some assurances from the Cooperative retail side that they will continue with the strong links they have built up with British farming.” Mr Hudson said the firm had forged close links with the farming sector over the years, including setting up a protein group. “We want to ensure that this continues despite the sell-off of the farm business,” he added. “This will of course have an impact on the people these farms employ and we are thinking about them and the uncertainty that this news brings. We hope The Co-op moves quickly to ensure this uncertainty comes to an end.”

Defra launches new pollinator action plan

national pollinator strategy which aims to reverse the decline in bee populations has been launched. Farmers and growers have welcomed the Defra consultation, however environmentalists have warned the action plan must be ‘strengthened’ if it is going to have any impact. The Government agreed to introduce a National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) at a Bee Summit organised by Friends of the Earth last year, following intense campaigning by the environment charity and other organisations. The NFU, which also fed into the proposals, said farmers were already ‘acutely aware’ of the importance of insect pollinators and their declines and are also concerned about the impacts on crop and wild plants. NFU vice-president Guy Smith, who was also Pesticide Action Network’s bee friendly farmer of the year in 2012, said: “As managers of agricultural and horticultural land and cus-

Solution “We need to encourage their involvement and part of this will rely on today’s farmers and growers getting due recognition that they are part of the solution for pollinators, rather than hit them again with the ‘agricultural intensification’ stick and blame them as the cause of the problem.” Mr Smith said farming ‘can

and does continue to deliver real benefits for pollinators’. The industry does this through continuing development of integrated pest management techniques across the industry and uptake of positive management to provide food and a home for pollinators, such as the voluntary measures promoted in the Campaign for the Farmed Environment, he added. Friends of the Earth welcomed the Government’s acceptance of the need for urgent action to tackle declining bee populations, but said the draft National Pollinator Strategy was ‘inadequate in a number of areas’. Friends of the Earth Senior Nature Campaigner Paul de Zylva said: “The Government rightly recognises the need for an action plan to safeguard Britain’s vital bees – but these proposals need to be considerably strengthened if we are to get Britain buzzing again. “Pollinators play a crucial role in our farms, gardens and countryside – we cannot afford to take them for granted.”

Syngenta’s GA21. These crops are genetically engineered to withstand blanket spraying with the herbicide glyphosate. The letter, signed by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, GeneWatch UK, GM Freeze and the Soil Association, expresses the groups’ concerns about the harm the products could cause to the environment. Director of lobbying group GM Freeze Liz O’Neill said: “British consumers don’t want

to eat GM food and both Scottish and Welsh governments have made it clear they are opposed to GM crops.” But the NFU’s chief science adviser Dr Helen Ferrier said GM crops were an ‘established’ part of the global supply chain. “It is the market, led by sound information, that must ultimately decide when and if GM crops are grown here, not politicians, NGOs, journalists or single issue groups.”


todians of much of the wider countryside, farmers and growers have a huge amount to offer in terms of helping to tackle problems faced by pollinators.

Environment groups condemn Government's pro-GM stance

JEnvironmentalists have written to the Prime Minister condemning Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s support for genetically modified (GM) crops. The NFU has criticised the move, saying although GM is not a ‘silver bullet’, British farmers should have the choice to access the best tools to increase their productivity, resilience and profitability. At the EU’s March Environ-


ment Council meeting, Mr Paterson supported a proposal which would fast-track GM crops for commercial cultivation in pro-GM countries, while allowing anti-GM countries to opt out. Pipeline The first GM crops in the pipeline for approval which are likely to be grown in England are Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready GM maize NK603 and


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AF Apr p8 9 TA Bullock EP tr_Layout 1 13/03/2014 13:46 Page 1


JIM Bullock

Jim Bullock farms in a family partnership at Guarlford, near Malvern, Worcestershire. He is a keen proponent of conservation tillage techniques and is a founder member of the conservation agriculture group BASE-UK.

We have 40% of the farm going into spring crops and as yet I have not even decided what crop we are going to grow


y early March last year we had actually drilled beans and wheat, but with rainfall averaging 5mm a day since mid-December we are still in a state of hibernation. To get 24 hours without rain just isn’t happening, but when it eventually dries up and we get all our spring crops planted we will be probably be into an extended spring drought. I used to be so well organised when it came to our rotation and the varieties we grew, but now we have 40% of the farm going into spring crops and as yet I have not even decided what crop we are going to grow where, let alone which variety. Why? Because if the wet weather does not let up until the end of March, beans might well go out of the window. My next fallback could be peas, then if those look like getting too late it will be more spring wheat and God forbid, spring rape or worse still, linseed.


Merchants Having been caught out in autumn 2012 with a shed full of bought-in seed which didn’t get drilled for 12 months, I am reluctant to order anything until I am sure we can plant it. I am always warned by merchants that if an order isn’t placed soon enough, supplies will run out and I will not be able to get the varieties of my choice. My experience with spring crops is the deciding factor as to whether you have a bumper crop or a disaster is the weather and your ability to decide when the ideal drilling conditions have arrived. I have very little interest in yield compared to other varieties. Disease ratings, yes, and I would


really like to know more about the vigour at establishment, but that does not seem to be tested. Between the deluges I have managed to inspect most of our wheat crops and I am slightly alarmed by the level of gout fly damage there is in some them. I understand the Severn valley and one or two areas in the eastern counties suffer from gout fly. There is a marked difference between the first and second wheats, with fewer infected plants in the first wheats. No surprise there, but getting the timing right for an autumn applied insecticide is nigh on impossible. Seed dressing The only solution is either an insecticidal seed dressing, which I am not happy to use, or delay drilling. So, as ever, it comes back to rotation, rotation, rotation. We have simply got to look at what nature does if we try to fight it. March is the end of our financial year so it is a time for budgeting and persuading the bank manager that we are worth supporting for another twelve months. Although the last two years have been probably the worst in my farming career, we have managed to show a profit and even after the total wipe out of 2012 our profitability only dropped by 30%, which I am told is a great achievement. I put it down to devising a farming system which has significantly lowered our financial risk through adoption of direct-drilling and conservation agricultural practices. We will never hit the top yields but equally we are less exposed when there is a disaster. Our machinery line-up is not that impressive but at

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TALKING ARABLE Farm facts rMember of a family farming partnership r292 hectares part owned, part share farmed, part tenanted rCropping over the last five years includes: wheat (winter and spring), oilseed rape (winter and spring), oats and beans, along with an area of temporary grass and permanent pasture rSoils predominantly: siltyclay-loams (up 45 per cent clay) rAll crops established either by direct drilling or min-till rAverage field size 6ha rRainfall five-year average 700mm (950mm –2012, 375mm – 2011)

The level of gout fly damage in wheat crops is a concern.

Invicta winter wheat with a gout fly larvae infected tiller.

Ukraine and reports of very little wheat due to least it’s all paid for, which has enabled us to come out of Australia. I was being pestered by weather the recent storms. a couple of merchants early in the new year to For cash flow purposes I have to sell some sell forward at about £130/t as they felt prices grain pre-harvest and I think this year it is were going to plummet and that would be a going to a case of waiting for as long as 210mm x 139mm good deal! possible with the developing situation in the

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AF Apr p10 11 TA Seed TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:27 Page 1



Daniel Seed farms in a family farming partnership in the Scottish Borders. His cropping programme includes novel ‘technology crops’, vining peas and swedes.

We still haven’t had a winter and lambs have started dropping which is a sure sign it will snow


pring has sprung in Berwickshire, or autumn hasn’t really finished. Either way, farmers in the area have been tentatively putting on fertilisers over the past few weeks and some have been sowing on lighter land. Crops in the area still look well, although there are some signs of stress in winter barley on wet land and some second wheat needing nitrogen earlier. At home, all crops except 300 hectares of our most forward wheat, had received nitrogen by the second week in March. Prothioconazole has been applied to the most forward oilseed rape to keep it under control and to top up light leaf spot control. A small area was at green bud stage by March 7 and romping through stem extension, which is a bit worrying considering we still haven’t had a winter and lambs have started dropping, which is a sure sign it will snow.


Autumn fungicide There were one or two farmers not applying an autumn fungicide to oilseed rape after advisers had told them the lush green growth would be gone in the winter with frosts and that it wasn’t worth protecting as new growth in the spring would be clean – glad we didn’t do that! Disease pressure means a robust and flexible T0 spray will be applied; epoxiconazole , chlorothalonil and


cyflufenamid to keep on top of septoria, rusts and mildew. Varieties like Viscount and Claire look okay just now but are very thick and susceptible to rusts found nearby in sheltered fields. Pearl winter barley looks fantastic, no stress, loads of tillers and will need some prothioconazole for net blotch, mildew and rhynchosporium soon. So the treadmill of watching money get sprinkled fortnightly onto winter barley begins, I hope it yields, but I am well prepared to be disappointed. Grain markets Grain markets look good after the trouble in Ukraine, and even if there is no conflict over Crimea the obvious tension between the US and Russia must mean more uncertainties and a better price going forward. Mr Seed Snr has been in South America for a month finding himself, so cue four weeks of problems with hysterical horse riders, hospitalised farm staff and of course Scottish Power. I have had to take down my prized pigeon screamer, which cost a fortune, because a walker thought someone was being murdered in the woods and threatened to phone the police. I went to a business resilience workshop recently, which was actually very good and we all took turns listing risks to our business, but ‘general public’ would have summed them all up. A man on a digger

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Fertiliser has been going on the land in the last few weeks on-farm in the Scottish Borders.

Prothioconazole has been applied to the most forward oilseed rape to keep it under control and to top up light leaf spot control.

keeps making a mess in a field to connect electricity from a transformer and worst of all, I am now the only worker fit to pick stones after some knee operations went wrong. I have always hated Twitter with a passion, but now I have a way of showing the world stones I have singlehandedly manoeuvred into my bucket, social networking is all beginning to make sense. Feats of superhuman strength would have previously gone unnoticed but not now thanks to Mr Twitter and his invention.

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Farm facts rR.M. and J.F. Seed. A family partnership based at Cothill Farm, Berwickshire, Scottish Borders rGrowing 1,200ha winter wheat, 400ha winter oilseed rape and 800ha spring barley, mainly through contract farming agreements, tenancies, and owned ground rOther crops incorporated into a variety of rotations suitable to each farm including: winter barley, winter oats, spring beans, potatoes (for Greenvale AP), vining peas (for Scottish Borders Produce) and swedes (for Drysdales)

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AF Apr p12 13 TA Robinson EP TR_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:34 Page 1


ANDREW Robinson

Andrew Robinson is farms manager at Heathcote Farms, Bedfordshire. He is a former winner of the nabim/HGCA Milling Wheat Challenge.

T0 fungicides have been decided and our plan this season is to give the barley a T0 this time too



s I sit and write this, the sun is at last shining and we have now gone 48 hours without any rainfall therefore spring must be here. As all our rape is drilled with the Vaderstad we will have to be a little more patient and let water filter through the ground before we are able to apply some liquid N25:14SO3 fertiliser. KWS Glacier barley will be next to receive its nitrogen with a hefty 80kg of nitrogen and 18kg of sulphur to give it a kick start. The crop looks well and fairly thick so hopefully the nitrogen will help maintain those tillers which are so vital in producing that all important 1,000-plus ears per square metre, as, with most barley, higher ear numbers mean higher yield. Gallant wheat will be the first wheat variety to receive some fertiliser in the form of N35:7SO3 as this requires its nitrogen early to help maintain tillers; and will then be followed on with the rest of the wheats. T0 fungicides have been decided and our plan this season is to give the barley a T0 this time too in the form of 0.75 litres/ha of Kayak (cyprodinil), this will give us 225g of cyprodinil to control the small amount of both mildew and net blotch which is present, for relatively little cost. Added to this mix will be some manganese, chlormequat and some Moddus (trinexapacethyl). This plant growth regulator will be used extensively over all the cereals again this year as, with our thick crops, preventing lodging is paramount and the added benefit of stem thickening allows more water and



nutrients to be taken up as well as the increase in root area. Wheat T0s are very robust this year with the Gallant, Leeds and Invicta receiving 1litre/ha of Firefly (fluoxastrobin+prothioconazole), 1litre/ha Bravo 500 (chlorothalonil) along with some Moddus, chlormequat and manganese. This rate of Firefly will give us 110g of prothiconazole and 45g of fluoxastrobin, which will not only reduce the eyespot issue we experience here at Toddington but also have a useful effect on septoria, mildew and more importantly rusts. Other blocks will have either a Tracker (boscalid+epoxiconazole) plus Cherokee (chlorothalonil+ cyproconazole+ propiconazole) mix or Cherokee plus PGR and manganese. Amazingly for this part of the world, GS30 was reached in the Septemberdrilled Gallant on February 26. Spring beans If this dry weather continues we will move our ploughed ground destined for spring beans with a 10m set of spring tines hired from neighbouring estate behind the Quadtrac which has had the front weight block weighing some 1,550kg removed, this should help reduce the footprint slightly. The beans will then be sown with the Vaderstad using the vari rate at an average of 40 seeds/sq.m and thanks to the new system from Soyl, I am able to do my own maps here from the farm office. MOP has been ordered for the season ahead at a thankfully large discount to last year’s TSP. A biennial application of the MOP is

AF Apr p12 13 TA Robinson EP TR_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:35 Page 2

TALKING ARABLE Farm facts rHeathcote Farms, Dunstable, Bedfordshire rTwo farms, eight miles apart r930ha on heavy Hanslope Clays r218ha on Greensand rCropping: Winter wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape and spring beans rFarms manager Andrew Robinson plus two full-time employees Growth stage 30 was reached in the Septemberdrilled wheat variety Gallant on February 26.

applied this year and then the same will apply to the TSP for next year, so each product is used in alternative years. Soil temperatures have never dropped below the 5.4degC I recorded here on February 28, which is why the crops are at least two weeks ahead of a ‘normal’ year if there is such a thing. Grain prices have risen on the back of Mr

Soil temperatures have not dropped below 5.4degC since February 28 on farm in Bedfordshire.

Putin flexing his muscles, so we will watch this space as there may just be a little more upward movement in these markets yet and with the dry weather in Brazil affecting the soyabean crop, Australia already reducing wheat output by 8% and canola by 14% it will possibly make the remaining tonnage left unsold a bit more interesting and will hopefully pull harvest 2014 prices up with it.


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With the old crop largely behind us, the focus is turning to the prospects for the year ahead, says Benjamin Bodart of ODA UK, who tells us more about the current global situation.

Looking ahead to the 2014/2015 campaign ow old crop balances have been compiled, the markets are focusing on the 2014/2015 crop. In the shortterm, support from European prices seems more limited, as weather conditions will have an increasing effect on levels and determine future production. For now, 2014/2015 balances seem stable, but supply is by no means determined. Given prices for the next crop, climate risk will be a potential source of support, with maize sowing taking place in the northern hemisphere from mid-April, followed by wheat and barley yield determination in May/June. Winter never really arrived in Europe and spring looks set to be early in the Black Sea and USA. Short-term risks are limited and prices will be stable, namely +/- 2%.


Wheat Europe is still competitive. There are very few changes to global 2013/2014 production, with strong international demand for the USA and Europe, the Black Sea and Canada being left behind. The 2014/ 2015 campaign is taking shape; exporters will have lower availability than last year, but China will be importing less. As we approach the end of the 2013/2014 campaign the global wheat balance shows no problems. Global stocks, however, are split unequally. India and China account for more


Given prices for the next crop, climate risk will be a potential source of support, with maize sowing taking place in the northern hemisphere from mid-April, followed by wheat and barley yield determination in May/June.

than half of the world’s stocks, but ending stocks in Europe and the USA, the world’s two largest exporters, are depleted. Canada, the only traditional exporter to have had a bumper harvest, is bogged down in logistical difficulties, pushing demand towards the USA and EU. The rate of US export sales and the issue of EU wheat export certificates, however, are high and must be rationed, so sales are likely to fall back and limit market support. Looking ahead to 2014, we estimate UK production at 15.2 million tonnes, although the effects, if any, of the recent floods are as yet unknown. Elsewhere in Europe, for France we are taking Agreste’s area estimate of 4.99m hectares, which puts French production at 36.3mt, while ending stocks are up almost 500,000t to 2.75mt. Euro-


pean production is up 600,000t to 133.1mt, with ending stocks little changed at 12mt. In Ukraine and Russia, temperatures of about -25degC have been recorded and some regions lack snow, so we expect slightly higher than normal winter losses. Our production estimates for Russian and Ukrainian wheat are reduced by 600,000t and 200,000t

respectively to 50.4mt and 19.45mt. Russia’s export potential for the 2014/2015 campaign may be lower than for the current campaign (16mt) at 15-16mt. Our calculations, which are based on the ratings from the main winter wheat producing states, which largely produce Hard Red Winter (HRW) wheat (listed in Kansas), are that 40%

Consultant details

rBenjamin Bodart is managing director of Offre et Demande Agricole (ODA), a private, independent consulting firm which helps buyers and sellers of agricultural commodities manage volatility and price risk. More information available at www.oda-agri.co.uk

AF Apr p14 15 Business Analysis TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:09 Page 2



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industrial crushing capacity has increased. Just as in the Black Sea, the EU has lost market share to China: since the beginning of the campaign Europe has represented 50-55% of exports (against 72% last year) and China 40% (0%). Following downward revision of our figure for rapeseed imports from the Black Sea and the significant loss of Europe’s market share in Australia, we have reduced our import target by 310,000t to 3.25mt. Furthermore, to achieve this Europe will probably have to source seed in South America and Canada. European rapeseed crushing has been buoyant since the beginning of the campaign. Rapeseed crushing margins are attractive at €45/t (£37.35/t) on March/April expiry and still higher than for sunflower (currently €42/t – £34.86/t – on the same expiry). What is more, the theoretical margins for processing rapeseed oil into biodiesel are very good in France and Germany (€118/t – £97.94/t – and €230/t – £190.90/t – respectively) and have been rising steadily for the last four months. Given the fundamental changes on the European market, we believe Euronext rapeseed prices are likely to strengthen further. In contrast, Canadian farmers have been almost panic selling canola over the last three months and Winnipeg futures prices on the March 14 expiry have shed CA$105/t (£56.70/t) since December.

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Rapeseed The palm market and global biofuel policies are bringing significant support to European rapeseed prices. Furthermore, in the short-term the limited supply of sunflower is boosting demand for rapeseed. Despite high soya and canola production, prices of European rapeseed have potential to rise. In Europe, rapeseed imports were lower than was hoped. Crushers who have fixed attractive margins are actively looking for seed. In Canada, farmers are just letting it all go, so Canadian seed is showing a record discount over other elements in the oilseed sector. We have also seen a downward revision in Black Sea exports. European rapeseed imports from Black Sea countries had reached just 1.66mt by mid-February against our previous estimate of 2mt. Europe’s dependence on the arrival of canola from Australia is therefore increasing. The problem is Australian canola has already been used and the amount remaining on farms is negligible or non-existent because

Looking ahead, production forecasts for 2014 remain favourable Benjamin Bodart

The growth in demand for logistical support from the Canadian hydrocarbon production industry has fuelled the downward trend, adding to the winter logistical constraints. Inland transport of canola has been limited, which has restricted exports and crushing. Despite huge crushing margins, storers (including farmers) may try and benefit from high storage payments and restrict the movement of seed in spring. This market structure is likely to limit any increases on long expiries and cause the 2014/15 Canadian canola acreage to fall. In light of the fundamentals, canola’s downward trend now seems largely over and bases are improving. Furthermore, and despite development subsidies, it is becoming more attractive to grow wheat rather than canola in Canada. The 2014/15 canola acreage, which the Government had originally forecast to rise by 8%, is therefore likely to be revised down in spring. Looking ahead, production forecasts for 2014 remain favourable. UK rapeseed crops are thought to have been largely unaffected by the recent floods, which mainly affected the South West where less rapeseed is grown. In Western Europe, crops are in good condition thanks to mild weather, while in Eastern Europe the acreage is up and winter losses are likely to be limited. Our estimate of European production in 2014/15 remains at 21mt, but we have not yet reached the yield determination stage. In Ukraine and Russia, crops are in good condition, with 95% of the rapeseed rated goodexcellent and winter losses likely to be low. Production is likely to reach 3.6mt, similar to this year, but, as in Europe, spring weather will be the determining factor.


of the wheat is rated goodexcellent, a 22-point fall since November 25. This is linked to low temperatures and dry weather on the HRW plains; precipitation in the USA must therefore be monitored and we are reducing our production estimate by 1mt, to 59mt. Global production will be down by 600,000t to 706mt, with ending stocks 0.3mt less, at the same level as last year. The Northern Hemisphere is approaching the end of winter without too many problems, although we must be vigilant during the spring, which is when most global production levels – and thus the next set of prices – are determined. Initially, climate risks will ease, but they should be back in force during May and June.


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AF Apr p16 17 18 Biz TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:36 Page 1


Time for arable sector to up its global trading

UK agriculture has helped change the world over the years. And with a growing global population, climate change and resource pressure, the prospect for British technology abroad is excellent. Cedric Porter reports. he UK’s farmers and companies pioneered plant breeding and the development of fertiliser and plant protection products, while its agricultural engineers were at the forefront of tractor development and precision technology. This is still the case and more overseas companies are turning to British scientists to give them the technology they need to build their businesses. This was demonstrated recently when US potato processor Simplot took up the blight resistance technology which had been developed at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, with backing from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.



George Freeman, Norfolk MP and driving force behind the Government’s £180 million AgriTech strategy, says: “What is particularly impressive is the fact many innovations over the years have come from farmers themselves rather than large companies.” Trade envoy Mr Freeman has also recently been appointed as a trade envoy on behalf of UK Trade and Investment. He says: “There is a deep reservoir of farm science in the UK which is pricking the interest of companies and farmers abroad as well as investors. The Government is also recognising the contribution an export-led farming industry can offer the


economy by reducing debt and creating jobs.” According to the NFU’s recent business report, farming’s contribution to the UK economy increased by 54% between 2007 and 2012, adding £8.6 billion more in the 2008 to 2012 period than it did between 2003 and 2007. Food and drink is now the fourth largest exporting sector with sales of more than £6bn in the first half of 2013. Mr Freeman says: “There are big numbers involved, but it is important to stress the export opportunities facing British agricultural are not limited to large and multinational companies. “The focus of both the Government’s AgriTech strategy and its export promotion is on commercial on-the-ground

There is a deep reservoir of farm science in the UK which is pricking the interest of companies and farmers abroad George Freeman projects and this means farmers or groups of farmers can be very much involved.” Most farmers will have regular contact with Defra, reluctant contact with HMRC and realise their businesses are influenced by what happens at HM Treasury, but a Government department they perhaps need to be more familiar with is UK Trade and

AF Apr p16 17 18 Biz TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:37 Page 2

EXPORT FEATURE BUSINESS Investment (UKTI), part of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). UKTI’s trade marketing manager for Eastern England is Nick Cairns. He says agriculture is a target sector for UKTI as demonstrated by its strong presence at Lamma in January and its involvement in the Cereals Event. Mr Cairns says: “We are already working with a number of agricultural businesses and believe the potential in the sector is very great. “We are not talking large businesses, as we work with plenty of companies which have a turnover of about £150,000.” The aim of UKTI is to help UK businesses develop export sales and it works closely with the UK’s network of trade offices in 100 embassies across the world. “We have two main roles – helping businesses gear up to win export trade and then identifying and developing export markets. We have a network of trade advisers who have export experience and within that group there

will be people with specific agricultural export experience who can offer extra advice,” says Mr Cairns. The organisation’s ‘Passport to Export’ helps businesses assess how ready they are to export and then helps them develop a strategy to maximise their export opportunities. Training Using face-to-face training with export advisers, the programme puts together tools to start exporting and developing trade. The advice is structured, but flexible enough to be tailored to the individual business. Content includes: rInternational trade review which assesses export readiness of a business rDevelopment of an action plan with an export adviser rGroup training on key business aspects of exporting including customs rMarket research assistance with input from UKTI’s overseas teams rAccess to UKTI’s international network X

Case study: Seeds of export success rC.N. SEEDS is based at Ely, Cambridgeshire, and was established in 1990. Since then it has established a reputation for delivering high quality salad, babyleaf, herb, vegetable and flower seeds to growers across the UK. As well as supplying larger growers, it has also built up a good trade with smaller growers and smallholders offering small pack sizes and small minimum orders. This reputation meant the company won orders in Europe and America, but the management realised there was a very large potential market in Asia where its specialist vegetable types are popular. Export sales manager Craig Thomas says: “We had a new variety of broccoli which we knew we could develop in Asia, and Japan in particular, with collaboration with various plant breeders, but we needed advice on whether we should use an agent or

liaise with the companies directly. “We also wanted to gain a better understanding of the cultural differences of doing business in Japan as we had heard it could be quite easy to make a mistake and offend someone, particular senior members of the company.” UKTI supported the company to allow it to send two members of staff to visit Japan and attend the Asian Seed Conference. Trade adviser James Gillespie guided the company in the etiquette of doing business in Japan and helped establish a local Japanese agent to make introductions and smooth negotiations. So far, the Japanese relationship has resulted in more than £200,000 of sales. Funding support for another sales trip, this time to California and Arizona, has resulted in another US$300,000 (£179,000) of business.

Food and drink products are now the fourth largest exporting sector with sales reported of more than £6 billion in the first half of last year.



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BUSINESS EXPORT FEATURE W The Gateway to Global Growth service then helps existing exporters build up trade and open up new markets. There is a fee for services, but it is heavily subsidised and typically in the region of £250 for a small business for certain services. UKTI has offices across the country and more information can be found at www.ukti. gov.uk

Case study: Gateway to increased exports LOW-COST electronic gates developed in the UK which allow tractors to drive through them without the driver getting off are being used by farmers across New Zealand and Australia. The retractable Electrogate system was developed by Nicholas Bray, and while

popular in the UK, managing director Jeremy Austin understood there was a large market in Australia where electric fences are used extensively to control stock in open field systems. Mr Austin used UKTI’s overseas market introduction service to write a report on the

Australian and New Zealand markets and unearth possible clients and agents. UKTI also subsidised a trip for Mr Austin and distributors were secured. Now 98% of the company’s gate sales are outside the UK with interest being shown in the US, South America and Middle East.

Export opportunities for UK farming rSeeds and genetics

Institutes such as John Innes, Rothamsted and NIAB are world leaders in developing new crops and techniques, while UK wheat and potato breeding is also attracting a global following. But there are also opportunities for smaller companies selling specialist seeds and seed services as farmers across the world look to increase yields and the nutritional quality of crops. rBiological pest control As countries across the world seek to control chemical pesticide use, growers are looking at biological methods to control pests and disease. Companies such as Southampton-based Exosect are building sales across the world selling products which protect crops from insects during pollination, growth and storage. rWater and drought management Water is often the limiting factor in expanding crop production and with demand for food expected to soar in dry regions such as Africa and India, the potential for water management systems is immense. Drip irrigation systems and smarter reservoirs are two areas where innovations are being made.


There are export opportunities for smaller companies selling specialist products to farmers across the world.

rSoil and nutrition

management The protection of soil from erosion, damage and degradation is a topic which has risen up the UK and world farming agenda. Fertiliser prices are also high with pressure on phosphate and potash supplies increasing. Innovators who can come up with systems to protect the soil and use fertiliser more effectively have a growing market to sell to. rPrecision and integrated farming Sustainable intensification is the


buzzword among farming policymakers and it should provide opportunities for the UK’s world-leading precision farming pioneers. rGPS and mapping Machinery-based GPS and mapping systems are now well established, but a new generation of drone technology is taking farming into another dimension. rRobotics The driverless tractor is already possible and it probably won’t be long before it makes its commercial debut.

rSpecialist food products

Commodity trading of grain and other products is dominated by large companies and governed by global prices, but there are still opportunities to develop specialist cereal, crisps, vegetable and drink products. rThe English language The British have a terrible reputation for speaking other languages, but with 330 million people using English as their native language and nearly a billion speaking it, most international business is done in it.

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NEIL Buchanan

Fine-tuning fungicide programmes Ground continues to dry better than expected and soil temperatures are rising steadily

rue to form, March has come in like a lamb – and I hope that is where any similarity to the old adage ends. In too many past seasons spring fever has proved premature. Even so, ground continues to dry better than expected and soil temperatures are rising steadily. Glimpses of the first tractors out in fields are a welcome sight after many months of inactivity – almost like hearing the first cuckoo! Soil mineral nitrogen results, while confirming some loss of N, also tell us that it currently resides at depths of between 60 and 90cm. This is a long way down for a rooting system which has been in virtual shut down for the last few months. This has to be balanced with the high levels of captured N held within our early drilled forward crops and must be taken into account, both financially and agronomically. Judicious use of early N still has a role to play this season. You cannot go back in time when the season turns dry. Keeping crops standing this year will be quite a challenge. We have a good armoury to work with and the key areas revolve around enhancing root mass and stem shortening and thickening. Starting early is key to my strategy, particularly this season with the high number of leggy, forward crops. Split applications will instrumental to success. Heavy reliance on later treatments can be a high-risk option without the firm foundation derived from earlier treatments. Either way, I suspect product supply may be an issue this year. Much energy has been expended on fine-tuning fungicide strategy over the last few months. Wheat prices are not at desired levels and


programme costs will be under close scrutiny. Product choice becomes ever more significant and I do worry some cost reductions maybe sought for the wrong reasons. If budget restraint has to have a role, then it cannot be early in the crop’s life. Yield potential Cutbacks at this stage can totally undermine yield potential. There is plenty of good science highlighting the diminishing efficacy of triazoles and the return to prominence of multisite protectant products. Consider this with the impact on yield of new SDHI chemistry on wellestablished crops and their cost would seem to be more than justified. Originally they arrived to market clearly targeted for flag leaf application but many, myself included, feel that their role at T1 is becoming increasingly important. Right now it is T0 choice that is being debated. Over here in the West, septoria remains our key problem. Infection levels are visibly high in crops. Rusts must never be underestimated and eyespot levels are well above average in susceptible varieties with mildew continuing to thrive in the absence of winter weather. Decision making will have to balance all of this. T0 used to be regarded as the Cinderella of a fungicide programme. Far from it; this year, cornerstone would be more appropriate. Products used will always vary according to individual preference but the importance of correct timing and good application is vital. Too much value passes through your sprayer for this aspect to be sidelined. Nozzle choice and configuration can have a dramatic impact on results, and this should be linked in with boom height, drift and speed. Better results for the same cost – it works for me.

Agronomist facts

rNeil Buchanan is an Agrovista agronomist based in Shropshire. He advises clients across the West Midlands, growing cereals, oilseed rape, pulses and potatoes



AF Apr p20 TAg Symes EP TR_Layout 1 11/03/2014 14:36 Page 1



Time to make PGR decisions T0s in general are more robust this year after the mild winter we’ve just experienced


pring is well and truly in the air and the long-awaited sunshine and growing day length has been welcomed by growers and agronomists alike. Most of the crops have returned to a more normal green colour than the more familiar yellow colour we have been experiencing. Early drilled cereal crops are receiving T0s and in most instances growth regulation as well on the forward crops. T0s in general are more robust this year after the mild winter we’ve just experienced due to the higher rust presence which we saw in the winter. November and onwards sown crops have not needed a T0, despite being susceptible to mildew as the disease has not threatened them yet. Septoria has been around for a number of weeks in more forward crops, but we have been holding off applying a fungicide until leaf 4 had fully emerged. Trying to eradicate septoria on older leaves would not be a cost effective operation. T1s are being planned for the coming weeks based around an SDHI and triazole with chlorothalanil added for essential septoria protection, and also an added mildewicide if mildew threatens or is present in high risk situations. Chlorothalonil cannot be mixed with Atlantis (iodosulfuron+mesosulfuron) so recommendations for grass-weeds were made earlier so there would be no clash now. Growth regulation choices are being made, namely Terpal (ethephon) based for the barley crops (from GS32) for the prevention of lodging and brackling. Moddus (trinexapac) + CCC (chlormequat) mixes for wheat crops are being or have been applied; the Moddus is added to give a more long lasting growth regulation effect and to strengthen the stem walls. Pre-T0 applications were discussed a couple of months ago but due to a lack of active yellow or brown rust here in the South, these were never followed though. Most of the barley will not be receiving a T0, as



disease to date has not been seen out in the field, but now I’ve written this no doubt it will appear! Oilseed rape crops are moving towards yellow bud stage, taller varieties such as Fashion and early sown crops which had avoided any slug or pigeon damage have had metconazole-based growth regulation at the start of March for lodging prevention and to improve canopy structure. Pollen beetles We are now looking out for pollen beetles on the buds and monitoring damage and threshold numbers. A green to yellow bud fungicide has been applied to many crops for protection against alternaria and sclerotina; this has been largely MBC and tebuconazole-based as it is a cost effective and has good curative and protectant activity. For late or stressed crops it is best to hold off until it has recovered as applying a triazole may damage the crop. Spring drilling is continuing well and some of the submerged winter crops have been redrilled. In particularly black-grassy areas some pre-emergence sprays based on a half rate of flufenacet (Crystal or Liberator) have also been applied under EAMU approvals. Ground is being sprayed off for maize drilling. Some growers on the south coast will start drilling if conditions allow as soil temperatures are above 8degC. Crops must be drilled into a warm seed bed in order for the crop to get a good start and we want to be sure that frost risk after emergence has passed. Spring oilseed rape crops have gone in, mainly replacing areas that have had winter crop failure. Spring rape performed well last year and growers are looking for a repeat performance. We will need to be vigilant with flea beetle as these crops have had no protectant seed dressings.

Agronomist facts

rSarah Symes is an independent agronomist working with the Hampshire Arable Systems partnership. Based in Hampshire, she advises clients growing cereals, oilseed rape and pulses

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AF Apr p22 TAg Patchett TR EP_Layout 1 13/03/2014 13:49 Page 1


SAM Patchett

Making the most of developing crops

We’re keeping our eyes peeled for pollen beetle, especially as some of our crops aren’t that far off green bud already


s we move into the second week of March we have still to see much in the way of winter. A few night frosts certainly. But, with daytime temperatures comfortably above 5degC, earlier sown crops in particular, are beginning to show signs of taking off. With oilseed rape GAIs ranging from 1.0 to 2.5 – depending on variety and sowing time – early nitrogen hasn’t been an issue. Thankfully, given the weather, even lower GAI crops are not needing a pick-me-up just yet. As soon as we can travel, our first priority with OSR is applying sufficient sulphur to support stem extension. But, with most spring fertiliser on-farm as N:S compounds, this will mean giving them nitrogen earlier than we’d like. With this in mind, in most cases we’ll be including a good canopy-managing dose of Juventus (metconazole) in our spring spray programme alongside Kestrel (prothioconazole + tebuconazole) to keep light leaf spot at bay. Although the disease isn’t hard to find, it isn’t romping away. So, fingers crossed, we should be able to hold off until mid-stem extension to get the best combination of branching and shortening from the PGR. If light leaf spot shows any sign of taking-off, we’ll go in with the Kestrel early and come back with Juventus. As mentioned last month, we’re keeping our eyes peeled for pollen beetle, especially as some of our crops aren’t that far off green bud already. So we could well need an insecticide along with the fungicide and our usual molybdenum and boron at mid-stem extension. Thankfully, we haven’t encountered much in the way of pyrethroid resistance here yet. But our tracking clearly shows it’s been coming down from the North.



With early flowering firmly on the cards, we’ll also have to be on the ball with our sclerotinia control as we go into April. Our first choice here is a combination of boscalid and metconazole for both efficacy and resistance management plus the bonus of extra plant growth regulation. PGR management Good PGR management looks like being equally important for many of our wheats. Thick, lush, well-grown crops from early sowing combined with poor anchorage support from very wet soils means we need to guard against both stem and root lodging this season. We’ll be including a low temperature PGR such as Meteor (chlomequat+imazaquin) or Adjust (chlormequat) with the T0 our forward wheats will be getting at the end of this month. Then we will go in again with a second PGR split at T1 two weeks later. And where we don’t use a T0, we’ll employ a combination of Adjust and Cutlass for extra PGR effect. Our T1 fungicide choice will depend on whether crops have had a T0 and how far ahead of T1 it was as much as on the disease spectrum. Where no T0 has been applied, Boogie (bixafen+prothioconazole+spiroxamine) will be our mainstay because it stands out as one of the best SDHI combination in all our trial work for T1. For forward crops which have had a T0 we’ll be using a combination of Helix (prothioconazole+ spiroxamine) and Phoenix (folpet). Unless the T1 is more than two weeks after the T0, that is. In which case, we’ll revert to Boogie for its extra power. Rust susceptible varieties will also receive a strobilurin at T1. Our winter barleys will be getting a combination of prothioconazole and spiroxamine plus an SDHI at T1 – in this case Zulu (isopyrazam).

Agronomist facts

rSam Patchett is an Agrii agronomist based in Yorkshire. He provides agronomy, crop nutrition and seed services to clients growing cereals, oilseed rape, maize and fodder beet across West and South Yorkshire and also helps run Agrii’s Brotherton R&D site near Selby

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Betanal and ma x xPro are registered trademarks of Bayer. Betanal ma x xPro contains desmedipham, phenme dipham, ethofumesate and lenacil. Use plant protection products safely. A l w a y s r e a d t h e l a b e l a n d p r o d u c t i n f o r m a t i o n b e f o r e u s e . P a y a t t e n t i o n t o t h e r i s k i n d i c a t i o n s a n d f o l l ow t h e s a f e t y p r e c a u t i o n s o n t h e l a b e l . F o r f u r t h e r i n f o r m a t i o n , p l e a s e v i s i t w w w.bayercropscience.co.uk or call Bayer Assist on 0845 6 0 9226 6 / 01223 226 644. © Bayer CropScience Limited 2014.

AF Apr p24 TA Roots TR EP_Layout 1 13/03/2014 13:50 Page 1


DARRYL Shailes

Putting a susceptible variety into a field with a high PCN count and expecting a granule to sort it out is not going to work


Getting PCN control right

ith the land drying and thoughts turning to planting what should we be thinking about? For PCN management it’s important we get the fundamentals right. The decision regarding which varieties are going where should already have been taken. Putting a susceptible variety into a field with a high PCN count and expecting a granule to sort it out is not going to work, so be careful re site and variety. The work published by the Potato Council and conducted by Dr John Keer shows clearly what the tolerances of many of the current varieties are and is a good starting point. Granule incorporation is also a critical part of PCN management. This is not only for efficiency and making sure the products work as they are designed to do, but also for stewardship issues to ensure their use going forward. Mocap (ethoprophos) and Vydate (oxamyl) have just been reregistered and Nemathorin (fosthiazate) is fine for the foreseeable future but stewardship is a very important part of their continued use. From a stewardship point of view, the biggest thing is to ensure all the granules are buried and operators and wildlife are not exposed to the granules. One point to pay particular attention to is when the machine applying the granules pulls out at the end of the row. Granules can be exposed here so it is important the driver and machine manage this issue. All the manufacturers recommend granules are applied just prior to planting, 100-150mm (4-6in) deep. Granules cannot move upwards so applying them too deep is a definite no. They should be evenly applied and incorporated in one pass, ideally with a rotivator type | machine – Rotospike, Baselier – for max-



imum effect and potatoes planted within one to two days of application Some growers still apply by a stone separator and this operation needs to be carefully managed to ensure granules aren’t banded or poorly mixed depending on where the applicator is placed on the machine or what type of stone/clod separator is being used. Star type separators are generally not recognised as giving adequate incorporation of granules as they tend to band them. Efficiency It is best from an efficiency point of view that granules are incorporated as close to planting as possible because as soon as they are in the ground they start to degrade. PCN eggs will not hatch until they are stimulated by root exudates from the mother tuber, so any delay in planting after granule application can make the control less effective irrespective of which granule you are using. Similarly, if you are using Vydate in-furrow for spraing reduction or FLN feeding damage control, is important the machine is set up properly. The fish tails on the application equipment should be the correct width and the machine calibrated correctly. On some planters there isn’t space to fit any fishtails so a compromise must be reached but something must be done to stop the granules being spread in too narrow a band. The lower rate of 140g/100m of row of Vydate is aimed at free-living nematode feeding damage, but to maximise the effect on the trichodorus and paratrichodorus nematodes which carry tobacco rattle virus which causes spraing, then the full in-furrow rate of 210g/100m of row must always be used. One final point is whichever granule you are using the harvest intervals must be adhered to.

Agronomist facts

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

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=PZP[^^^HKL_HYJV\RMVYPUKLWLUKLU[ [YPHSZYLZ\S[ZHUK[LZ[PTVUPHSZ Xemium® and Adexar ® are registered trademarks of BASF. Adexar contains epoxiconazole and fluxapyroxad. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. For further product information including warning phrases and symbols refer to www.agricentre.basf.co.uk

AF Apr p26 27 28 30 Cereal Disease TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 10:51 Page 1


New research is adding to our understanding of how new races of yellow rust are evolving and spreading. Teresa Rush reports.

Yellow rust – a global dimension he notion that yellow rust developing on a wild berberis bush in the Himalayas could go on to bring about a shift in our attitudes to disease management in wheat in the UK is, in some ways, hard to grasp. But scientists working on a global yellow rust project are beginning to question whether the aggressive strains of the pathogen identified in Europe in recent years can be linked to strains present in regions much further east. A multinational project mapping diversity in yellow rust populations shows while

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If some of these races are aggressive, the disease is cycling that little bit quicker, so it is going to be more difficult to control Bill Clark

“ 26

there is less genetic diversity in yellow rust in Northern Europe than in other regions of the world, in some regions, the Himalayas in particular, where wild berberis or barberry is an alternate yellow rust host, the pathogen is able to reproduce sexually, which can result in novel types emerging and an increase in population diversity. Concern And with increased global travel there is a concern new races can, and are, spreading more quickly than in the past, when the wind was the main method of dispersal. New races, referred to as ‘Warrior type’, as in the UK the first of these was identified on the winter wheat variety Warrior, are now found in many European countries and are believed to have spread into Europe from the Himalayas. Somewhat confusingly, not all of the Warrior type races are virulent on Warrior itself, but are characterised by virulence to differential variety (a variety with known resistance genes) Spaldings Prolific. Results from the 2013 United Kingdom Cereal Pathogen Virulence Survey


AF Apr p26 27 28 30 Cereal Disease TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 10:51 Page 2


More aggressive Warrior-type races of yellow rust are thought to have evolved outside Europe, with some developing in the Himalayas.

(UKCPVS) indicate Warrior type yellow rust races were the most common in UK wheat crops last season. This type first appeared in 2011 and is virulent against a greater range of resistance genes and is considered more virulent than other races. Speaking at the annual UKCPVS meeting at the NIAB Innovation Farm in Cambridge, Dr Sajid Ali of the University of Agriculture Peshawar, Pakistan, and currently seconded to the University of Aarhus, Denmark, described how genetic mapping is enabling the global spread and development of yellow rust populations to be tracked. The Warrior type is distinct from ‘old’ North West European yellow rust races and has some commonality with races present in Central Asia, he told the meeting.

Dr Ali suggested these findings might have some significance for UK wheat breeders aiming to produce varieties with resistance to yellow rust. Breeding efforts are focused on normal yellow rust races, but there might, going forward, be a need to expose promising new lines to new, exotic yellow rust strains, he said. Global project While Dr Ali’s research is part of a global yellow rust project, UK work under way at the Genome Analysis Centre in Norwich is investigating the genetic sequence of yellow rust with the aim of drawing a genetic ‘family tree’ in order to see how different races are related to each other. According to Dr Diane Saunders, who is leading the



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SiltraXpro contains prothioconazole and bixafen. Fandango contains prothioconazole and fluoxastrobin. Both are registered trademarks of Bayer. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. Pay attention to the risk indications and follow the safety precautions on the label. For further information, please visit www.bayercropscience.co.uk or call Bayer Assist 0845 6092266 / 01223 226644. © Bayer CropScience Limited 2014.

AF Apr p26 27 28 30 Cereal Disease TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:48 Page 3


Berberis or barberry is a secondary host of yellow rust. Its role in the evolution of the new strains of the disease is being studied by scientists.

research, the results appear to show a lot of difference between the Warrior types and other races of yellow rust in the UK, again raising the possibility that the Warrior type may have been brought into the UK, rather than evolving from a race already present. Key benefits of this ‘pathogenomics’ research include the ability to detect

important new pathogens as they emerge and also, because gene sequencing results are available within one to two months of sampling, to provide feedback on pathogen populations before the next crop season gets under way, says Dr Saunders. NIAB TAG technical development manager Bill Clark believes growers and

Research rUKCPVS is funded by HGCA and Fera and is carried out by NIAB rDr Diane Saunders’ work on yellow rust pathogenomics is funded by the BBSRC and carried out by The Sainsbury Laboratory, The John Innes Centre, The Genome



Analysis Centre, NIAB and the University of East Anglia rDr Sajid Ali is working on a multinational project led by Dr Mogens Hovmuller at Aarhus University in Denmark and taking place in Denmark, France, Pakistan, China and other countries

agronomists need to be aware of the existence and potential for spread of new, possibly more aggressive yellow rust varieties. Virulence He says: “The yellow rust we have in Europe at the moment is dominated by this group of Warrior type races, which have come from outside Europe – that is what is different. “If you look at the virulence factors, the Warrior race is only a little bit different from Solstice, so you might think it has just evolved in Europe. “But genetic fingerprinting shows it has not, it has probably come from the Himalayas, so you have got this sort of central Asian incursion. The yellow rust we have is new,” he says. While it is not necessarily

the case that new, exotic yellow rust races will be more aggressive than existing strains, growers and agronomists cannot take the risk of ignoring them, he adds. “All the way up the east coast there are people talking about yellow rust. Around Cambridge, farmers were spraying against yellow rust in the autumn. Those that did not thought ‘well we can deal with that at the T0 stage’. “Of course they should be spraying now [first week of March], but they cannot get on the land. “If some of these races are aggressive, the disease is cycling that little bit quicker, so it is going to be more difficult to control. “It is true that whatever we do for septoria will generally control yellow rust as long as

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AF Apr p26 27 28 30 Cereal Disease TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:48 Page 5

FEATURE CEREAL DISEASE UKCPVS 2013 results There was some indication of increased virulence towards Crusoe (currently rated 9 for resistance to yellow rust) at the seedling stage in one of the Warrior type isolates. In adult plant tests, more varieties were susceptible to the Warrior races than the Solstice races, but 15 varieties remained highly resistant (HGCA rating 8 or above).

Yellow rust rYellow rust samples in 2013 were dominated by variants of the Warrior type races (20 of the 24 samples tested to March 6). These are characterised by virulence for the differential variety Spaldings Prolific, although not all variants are virulent on Warrior itself. Solstice type races, which are not virulent on Spaldings Prolific, Warrior or Timber, were detected in four of the samples tested.

Brown rust rThe wheat brown rust population appears to be

The UK brown rust population appears to be stable.

the timings are right. But if T0 is delayed, by the time we get to T1, it could have got away from us. And of course this year, T0 is going to be delayed.” Aggressive races NIAB plant pathologist Dr Jane Thomas agrees new, more aggressive yellow rust races with a fast latent period would require a rethink in terms of approaches to control. “You would have to think about all of your timings, your products, your rates,” she says.


But she is keen to stress that there are 15 winter wheat varieties currently available to growers that are not affected by the Warrior type races. However, about one-third of this season’s wheat acreage comprises yellow rust-susceptible varieties. ”And that is a worry,” says Dr Thomas. But it is also important to bear in mind differences between seedling and adult plant susceptibility to yellow rust, she adds. “Don’t forget the adult plant resistance. That will


There have been no major changes in the pattern of virulence frequencies in wheat and barley powdery mildew in recent years.

relatively stable, although virulence for some resistance genes (Lr1 and Lr26) was more common in 2013 than in 2012, whereas virulence for Robigus declined slightly but was still present in 45 per cent of the isolates tested in 2013. Last year was not a high disease pressure year for brown rust, but both yellow and brown rust have been active in crops during the autumn and winter, creating the potential for significant epidemic development this spring, depending on conditions. kick in. We are seeing a lot of seedling stage susceptibility out there at the moment, but in the varieties with higher ratings, adult plant resistance will kick in.” Screening Both Dr Thomas and Mr Clark believe there would be value in plant breeders screening new lines against exotic races. And they add that, with the focus increasing on the global evolution and spread of yellow rust, UK organisations such as NIAB,

Mildew rBoth wheat and barley powdery mildew were surveyed in 2013. In wheat, virulence for Crusoe remained at a relatively high level, indicating it probably contains one or more of the Pm resistance genes, which are already overcome at a high level. The pattern of virulence frequencies in barley powdery mildew generally remained stable during 2013 compared to previous years, although there were some significant decreases. UKCPVS (with funding from HGCA and Fera) and the John Innes Centre are already involved with the international rust research initiative based at Aarhus University in Denmark.

More information rwww.wheatrust.org rwww.hgca.com rwww.niab.com rwww.tsl.ac.uk rwww.tgac.ac.uk rwww.jic.ac.uk www.bbsrc.ac.uk

AF Apr p31 32 34 36 Cereal Disease TR_Layout 1 14/03/2014 10:21 Page 1


With a mild winter, a big area of disease-susceptible wheats and a need to protect triazole and SDHI efficacy, Martin Rickatson asks agronomists what it means for fungicide rates and partner products.

Bold rates needed to make fungicides pay uch has been made in recent years of a gradual drop-off in the efficacy of triazole chemistry, the bedrock on which cereal disease control programmes are built. But with another spring spraying season now underway – and one that, unlike last year, follows a winter which did little to subdue disease pathogens – consensus from on-farm agronomists would seem to be that there is still plenty of power to be tapped from what remains the core group of cereal disease products, provided rates, timings and programme partners are selected with care. They caution against any need to rush into rewriting plans this season, though, despite the early ingress of septoria and yellow rust in many wheats. While the value of interim sprays over and above those of the usual T0/1/2/3 timings has been mooted at various trial days and winter agronomy conferences, many concur that standard sequences combining robust rates of proven chemistry and careful use of new products


should provide agronomically successful results while being financially astute. But it is those words ‘robust’ and ‘careful’ which are key, they suggest. In addition to plentiful septoria, Steve

Cook, agronomist with Hampshire Arable Systems, reports unusually high incidences of yellow rust in the South West area he crop walks, many having developed before Christmas. But with



Sean Sparling




AF Apr p31 32 34 36 Cereal Disease TR_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:55 Page 2

FEATURE CEREAL DISEASE crops in the region having been drilled later than many others in the southern half of England, while it is a concern it is not yet a cause for panic, he says. By GS32/T1, high levels of inoculum and mild weather are likely to mean a robust fungicide mix will be required. Concern “With a lot of our land at 300700ft, we do not normally see a great deal of rust here, so the fact there is plenty this season in varieties we have a lot of, such as Solstice, is a concern,” says Mr Cook. “But there has been little sign of sporulation over the past three months, and while there is a lot of septoria in the bottom of crops, the earliest wheats were not drilled here until September 20. As of the first week of March, leaf five was only just coming through. “With that in mind, I have not seen a need for a pre-T0, with the first fungicide planned being a T0 based around Cherokee for the disease protection provided by its chlorothalonil element and the curative action of propiconazole and cyproconazole. “Disease pressure by T1 is

Spring spraying is underway after a winter which has done little to suppress disease in winter cereal crops.

likely to be high, given advanced crops, high inoculum levels and mild weather, and this will be where both triazoles and SDHIs can work together to best effect. “Epoxiconazole and prothiconazole are my preferred triazole options here, and whichever I use at T1, the other will have a role at T2. “In the circumstances we have this season, I do not think there is any need for stacking of such chemistry, though. The

There has been plenty of septoria in crops, but levels are no worse than in recent seasons, says Lincolnshire agronomist Sean Sparling.



important factor will be to maintain sensible rates. “It is at T1 that newer technology, in the form of an SDHI, comes into play to best effect, and this chemistry type will be a definite T1 inclusion on all but the latest-sown crops, most probably in the form of Aviator (bixafen + prothiconazole). “Exact rates may depend on price, but they will not be low. With the wet conditions we have experienced, this looks likely to be a season which is conducive to eyespot, so in addition to its effect on rusts and septoria, Aviator’s eyespot activity will be welcome.” T1 sprays While he also saw plenty of early septoria, Lincolnshirebased independent agronomist Sean Sparling reckons that, with the rate at which crops have been moving and new leaf growth has been developing, tackling it will be a necessity at T1, but not a specific aim any earlier “As well as yellow rust in crops of Santiago, Claire and Gallant, there was a lot of septoria to be seen in the early part of the season, but the

Disease pressure by T1 is likely to be high, given advanced crops, high inoculum levels and mild weather Steve Cook

levels were no worse than in many recent years. Early fungicides were unlikely to have provided a sufficient return on investment because the issue was in the base of the crop and new growth was coming on rapidly,” he says. “With crops moving fairly fast, some were approaching the GS30 T0 timing by midMarch. With days lengthening and soils beginning to warm and dry out, boosting plant activity and N uptake, new growth protection is essential.” There are two possible T0 routes to take, and these will

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AF Apr p31 32 34 36 Cereal Disease TR_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:55 Page 3

FEATURE CEREAL DISEASE have a bearing on plans down the line, says Mr Sparling. “Chlorothalonil is an essential building block at both T0 and T1, to protect new growth against further septoria spread in the canopy before T1, taking some of the pressure off triazoles and SDHI materials in the programme. Pairing or strob? “Depending on cost and main aim, the choice at T0 is then between pairing with a triazole or a strobilurin. As well as septoria, there was also plenty of yellow rust present in early March in crops of Santiago, Claire and Gallant, and a half-rate strob is useful on yellow rust, providing not only eradication of disease present in the crop and protection against further attack, but

Robust rates of proven chemistry and careful use of new products should provide successful results this season.

also the strobilurin crop enhancement effect. “On the other hand, if daily temperatures around T0 are mild, epoxiconazole should easily control rusts at lower cost. As the weather warms rates need to be robust or the

Ask the Expert Ask a question and receive a FREE tape measure Go to www.arablefarming.com/nlive Allison Grundy

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product will not have the same effect on septoria. “Little sniffs might save a bit, but will not do a full job and could aid resistance development.” Growth stage assessments Mr Sparling stresses that going by calendar dates is no match for accurate growth stage assessments when it comes to spray timing, and he notes if crop growth continues to move as fast as it has, it may be necessary to bring T1 applications forward. “While the difference between the two timings can be as little as seven to 10 days, intervals of three or four

weeks are not unknown, and that is too much for persistency. “Whatever happens at T0, the T1 application at GS32 must not be delayed. “Similarly, if T1s are delayed, keep focused on getting the T2 application on at the right time. “With the value of SDHIs now proven, they are a must at T1, and depending on planned spend, Tracker (boscalid + epoxiconazole), Adexar (prothioconazole + fluxapyroxad) or Vertisan (penthiopyrad) are all possible, but in order to preserve their activity, all need the support of alternative chemistry and

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Levels of yellow rust are a cause for concern in many regions.

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AF Apr p31 32 34 36 Cereal Disease TR_Layout 1 14/03/2014 10:54 Page 4


A word cloud of this feature underlines the importance of septoria, rust, triazoles, rates and timings in disease control decisions this season.

where a full dose of triazole may not form part of the total product dose used. “Seguris (isopyrazam) looks a less likely option for me at the moment, as I think there are cheaper products which are as good.” Eyespot Beyond septoria and the rusts, eyespot is a concern which must not be ignored this season, given the wet conditions, says Mr Sparling. “While epoxiconazole gives moderate control, prothioconazole is particularly effective on eyespot, so Proline will probably be the most sensible T1 addition here where risks are high,” he says. Moving forward to the T2/GS39 timing, there is little to choose between Aviator and Adexar in terms of disease control and yield effects, says Mr Sparling, but Aviator proved effective in both the dry conditions of 2011 and the wet of 2012, and that reliability in all conditions may influence a decision. “It could still come down to


A little and often approach will do nothing for helping stave off resistance development Sean Sparling

pricing, and if one will mean £5-10/ha less spend than the other, then that may sway things.” While some suggest ‘0.5’ timings can help hold off disease in a high pressure season, Mr Sparling is no fan of such an approach. “Get your timings right and use capable products at sensible rates – threequarters should be the minimum for T1 triazoles, which means 1.5 litres/ha Tracker or 0.55 litres/ha prothioconazole, for example – and there should


The potential for eyespot infection should not be overlooked this season.

be no need for interim sprays or stacking. “A little and often approach will do nothing for helping stave off resistance development. Make sure you can identify exactly when your crops have reached GS32 and GS39 in order to get your timings spot-on.” T3 sprays By the T3 ear emergence timing, while much depends on the weather, a costeffective triazole should suffice if conditions are dry at flowering, says Mr Sparling

“That is the key – a dry flowering period,” he says. “If we get a ‘normal’ June, then a low-cost azole will do the job of prolonging leaf protection and keeping the ear clean to minimise the risk of fusarium ear blight and mycotoxin development. “Any one of metconazole, prothioconazole and tebuconazole would do the job, but a three-quarters to full rate dose of Folicur (tebuconazole) probably has the edge. For milling wheat, no less than half rate of hioconazole would be the minimum required.”

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AF Apr p38 39 Research in Action EP TR_Layout 1 13/03/2014 13:53 Page 1


New HGCA-funded research is seeking to improve knowledge of saddle gall midge. Andrew Blake reports.

Homing in on saddle gall midge

parasitic fungus may be playing a big part in controlling a cereal pest which can cause considerable damage, albeit only occasionally and locally. That’s one of several key messages from new research homing in on saddle gall midge (Haplodiplosis marginata). The pest can cut yields of all cereals by up to 70%, and there were widespread outbreaks on heavy land in 2010 and 2011 from Wiltshire to Scotland, says ADAS entomologist Steve Ellis. Its life cycle is similar to that of blossom midge, adults emerging from pupae in the soil to lay eggs on crops between March and May. “The eggs hatch into larvae which


I believe ultimately the data should help us understand how the pest affects yield Dr Steve Ellis

There is only a small window during which insecticides are likely to be effective - from egg hatch until the larvae move beneath the leaf sheaths.



There were widespread outbreaks of saddle gall midge on heavy land in 2010 and 2011 from Wiltshire to Scotland.

then move down the leaves to feed on the stem and cause the distinctive saddle shaped galls,” says Dr Ellis. Following severe damage in 2010 and 2011 the HGCA commissioned a one-year £7,500 project to monitor the pest in relation to the weather. “We wanted to increase our understanding of its life-cycle and improve our forecasts of outbreaks,” says Dr Ellis. Much of the work on the midge has been on outbreaks elsewhere in Europe. “We wanted to know whether the findings are equally applicable in the UK.” The problem for researchers is that the pest’s impact is sporadic, he explains. That was highlighted in 2012 when despite huge numbers of larvae in the soil at two monitoring sites, both in Buckinghamshire where there was a known history of the pest, there was only limited damage to crops. Research As a result, the HGCA has funded three further years’ research at a cost of £89,500 with support from Dow AgroSciences in 2013 to continue monitoring the pest, assess its impact on wheat and barley yield and quality, explore possible chemical controls and develop potential treatment thresholds. Some key messages have emerged from the first

season, says Dr Ellis. “One is that soil sampling is effective for monitoring midge development.” Midge larvae populations were monitored near Wendover, Buckinghamshire and Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. Samples Soil samples were taken at three depths (0-10cm, 10-20cm and 20-30cm). Larvae numbers peaked in April reaching 369/sq.m at Wendover and 204/sq.m at Knaresborough. At both sites most larvae were found at 0-10cm, he says. “However the numbers of pupae were low. They were first recovered in early May at both sites and did not exceed 13/sq.m. “At Knaresborough we found a parasitic fungus, Lecanicillium, in some larvae, and those infected failed to develop into pupae. The fungus can clearly have a dramatic effect on larval viability.” Adult midges were first caught in May, yellow water traps proving highly effective at catching them, he notes. The pest’s impact on yield clearly needs further investigation. Up to 100 midge-infested and uninfested plants were collected from the two monitoring sites and another in Suffolk, and tiller numbers, galls per tiller, and grains and

AF Apr p38 39 Research in Action EP TR_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:35 Page 2

RESEARCH IN ACTION TECHNICAL Field experience rAnything which can provide a better handle on saddle gall midge should be welcome, according to Yorkshire-based agronomist Sam Lawrence, a member of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants since it was founded 32 years ago. His first experience of the pest came nine years ago when continuous wheat on two heavy land fields on a customer’s farm were hard hit. Yields “The yields were reduced by half and the specific weights were very poor, but there was no obvious reason why. The stubble was also noticeably yield per ear were assessed. “We’re still analysing the figures, and the initial results from one site even suggested midge-infested ears yielded more than those not infested. I think that is an anomaly, and I believe ultimately the data should help us understand how the pest affects yield.” Cereals Although there are no approved products for controlling saddle gall midge, several insecticides may be applied to cereals when the midges are likely to be in the crop, says Dr Ellis. “However, there’s only a small window during which they’re likely to be effective - ie

weak, and when I investigated to see if the roots looked normal I found the soil contained large numbers of orange coloured larvae. “Nobody seemed to know much about the pest at that time so I contacted ADAS entomologist Jon Oakley who confirmed they were indeed saddle gall midge.” With Mr Oakley’s guidance, sticky traps were placed in the fields the next April, half way up the crop canopy, explains Mr Lawrence. “About a week later we started catching midges and the numbers were incredible – up to several hundred in from egg hatch until the larvae move beneath the leaf sheaths.” A field experiment at Wendover compared chlorpyrifos, lambda-cyhalothrin, and thiacloprid applied at four timings. These were when the adults were first seen, seven to 10 days later, as soon as the eggs were seen, and when the first larvae appeared. There was also an untreated control. “Lambda-cyhalothrin was most effective at reducing the percentage of midge-infested tillers when applied to coincide with the first appearance of adults or seven to 10 days later,” says Dr Ellis. “However, there was no significant difference in yield between any of the treatments.”

one trap. We used chlorpyrifos to control them by spraying four to five days after catching 5-10 per trap.” However repeat treatments were needed, he says. Larvae numbers “We managed to improve yields

dramatically that first year, and since then we’ve reduced larvae numbers in the soil every year.” Introducing a break crop can reduce the pest’s threat significantly, he notes. “But one year is not enough to eliminate it.”

Adults emerging from pupae to lay eggs on crops between March and May.

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More information rImproving risk assessment and control of saddle gall midge/ Project number RD-20123806/July 2013 rEcology and control of saddle gall midge, Research

Review 76/April 2012 rBiology and control of saddle gall midge, HGCA Information Sheet 15/Spring 2012 rAll available at www.hgca.com

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AF Apr p40 41 42 44 Potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 13/03/2014 11:10 Page 1


Rubber tracks are commonplace on combines, but their adoption on machinery used for higher value crops such as potato and sugar beet remains slow. Geoff Ashcroft talks to growers.

On track for root crop benefits preading machine weight across rubber tracks and enjoying a narrow transport width are just two of the advantages of rubber tracks on combine harvesters. Their popularity as a wide tyre replacement has grown considerably over the last 10 years, yet the adoption of rubber tracks for more arduous


harvesting conditions â&#x20AC;&#x201C; typically with root crop equipment â&#x20AC;&#x201C; appears to be on a slow burning fuse. As a means of protecting soil structure, the role of tracked self-propelled harvesters to replace trailed harvesters on wheels could quickly gather momentum as landowners start to insist on growers treading as lightly as possible.

Scottish Borders grower Mike Dagg believes the use of tracked potato harvesting equipment is a no-brainer and has used tracks for eight years.

USE PLANT PROTECTION PRODUCTS SAFELY. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND PRODUCT INFORMATION BEFORE USE. For further information on product hazard warnings, risk and safety phrases consult the website www.belchim.co.uk. Belchim Crop Protection, 1b Fenice Court, Phoenix Park, Eaton Socon, St Neots PE19 8EW, tel 01480 403333, web: www.belchim.co.uk

AF Apr p40 41 42 44 Potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 13/03/2014 11:11 Page 2

ROOT CROPS FEATURE And a reduction in surface damage and sub-surface compaction could prove easier for growers to return rented fields to their former glory once crops have been harvested. For Scottish Borders grower Mike Dagg, the use of harvesting equipment on tracks is, he says, a no-brainer. High value crops “We’ve been on tracks for around eight years now,” he says. “It is the only way to get high value crops out of the ground while looking after soil condition.” Mr Dagg grows 260 hectares of potatoes for Greenvale on owned and rented land around Crailing Tofts Farm, Kelso. Experience suggests he is particular when it comes to machinery choices. “We got a lot of stick from our neighbours who thought Scotland didn’t suit self-pro-

The Varitron 200 harvester range has the option to replace the rear left hand wheel with a rubber track.

pelled harvesters, but there are many in the area now,” says Mr Dagg. “We grow a lot of potatoes on rented land so it’s essential

we return fields to the landlord in the same condition that we found them. If you don’t look after the land, you’re unlikely to get the

chance to grow the crops.” He suggests with harvesters treading lightly, trailers have become the biggest culprit when harvesting.

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AF Apr p40 41 42 44 Potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 13/03/2014 11:11 Page 3

FEATURE ROOT CROPS “Putting trailers on 650 tyres has eased the problem, but our latest harvester has presented a viable solution and helped to reduce trailer movements on land, particularly in wet and difficult working conditions,” he says. That solution is a Grimme Varitron 270 harvester. The seven-tonne bunker machine joins the firm’s smaller Varitron 220 and allows Mr Dagg to keep trailers at the headland. “Yes, soil condition is becoming an increasingly more important consideration, but with the value of the crop being grown, you do need to make sure you have the right equipment and the strategy to get the crop out of the ground. “In 2012, we would not have lifted all our crops had we not been running on tracks,” he recalls. “And you don’t need a lot of rain to make a mess in potato fields.

Wisbech contractor Nigel Harrison acknowledges that soil condition is becoming a more sensitive area for many sugar beet growers.

“But there is no doubt being on tracks does make it easier for us to return all rented land to its owners in as good a condition as possible,” he says. Grimme has been supplying potato harvesters on tracks since 1999, when the four-row SF3000 arrived. The current line-up includes the four row self-propelled range

of Varitron 470 and Tectron harvesters, which use two tracks on their chassis.

Two tracks The Tectron with two tracks at the front and a rear, centremounted wheel configuration forms the basis for this machine, and also the Maxtron sugar beet harvester.

Its Varitron 470 has two front wheels and two tracks at the rear, while the smaller Varitron 200 range has the option to replace the rear left hand wheel with a rubber track. Track widths of 650mm and 900mm are available, and the running gear is supplied by Claas. Grimme’s Ralph Powell suggests track development is probably as far as it can go on self-propelled machines, but he anticipates increasing requests for tracks on trailed harvesters in future. “The challenges become greater when it comes to getting power to a driven axle,” he says. “There is a need to make that axle freewheel when in transport. “Tracks positioned at the rear of a self-propelled harvester lower the machine by about 300-400mm, which provides an additional benefit by reducing web angles,” he

Harrison Contracting’s 10-year-old Terex ADT has been lengthened, given an extra axle and fitted with a 20-tonne capacity Larrington ejector body.



AF Apr p35 Croptec TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 16:10 Page 1


CropTec 2014 plans are well underway, with more than 60 exhibitors already booked and the seminar programme in development for the Peterborough-based event on November 19 and 20.

Busy time for CropTec ickets for CropTec 2014 will be on sale at the beginning of April, and with more than 60 exhibitors already confirmed and the in-depth seminar programme to be confirmed in the next few months, there will be plenty to see and do. The event, to be held on November 19 and 20 at the East of England showground, Peterborough, will see key industry suppliers exhibiting their latest products and talking about managing evermore demanding technical challenges. An industry-wide steering group is being brought together to look at seminar topics and speakers for CropTec 2014. The four seminar streams are


CropTec 2014 will see key industry suppliers exhibiting their latest products and services.

Crop Nutrition; Crop Protection; Plant Breeding and Managing Precision, with seminars running throughout the day on both days. Seminar speakers and individual

topics will be confirmed over the next few months. ■ Tickets for CropTec 2014 will go on sale in early April. For all

rs so far o it ib h x e 4 1 0 2 c e CropT A, Pan Agrovista, APH, rAgrii, Agri-Shop, ns, Barrettine AS Communicatio , BCPC, C&J SIS Group, BASF, BA ydons, CXCS, Supplies, CLA, Cla ics, DOW, DSV, David King Electron Farmworks, DuPont, FarmPlan, ment Systems, Farmade Manage inery, Gleadell Garford Farm Mach e, Great Agriculture, Glensid rper Adams, Ha w, Plains, GrowHo le Drills, John Househam, John Da Lemken, LH Deere, Kverneland, Lite-Trac, , UK in Agro, Limagra nsanto, Mo n, MAUK, Micheli

Muddy Boots, OD Precise Agriculture, PGRO, Decisions, Solutions, Precision Rotam, s, Robinson Structure ency, SFP, Rural Payments Ag ials, Soil Sipcam, Soil Essent YL, Team Fertility Services, SO chnology Te , Sprayers, Tec 5 UK , University lso Crops, Tecnoma, Til YARA. , ng of Lincoln, Vogelsa exhibit, to ■ If you would like Gareth er ag contact sales man ing ief br s@ Jones, gareth.jone 9 494 79 2 77 media.com, tel 01

the latest news on the event, and to book tickets, see www.croptecshow.com, and follow the show on Twitter @CropTecShow.

Positive visitor feedback JThe inaugural CropTec event, held last November, attracted a great cross-section of farmers and advisors, and saw packed seminar sessions run across both days.

Survey According to a visitor and exhibitor survey, more than 80% found the event’s content to be good or excellent, with more than 90% agreeing the event’s relevance was good or excellent. “We worked hard to ensure the launch show

was highly relevant and topical for the audience, and this appears to have worked well,” explains show organiser, Elisabeth Mork-Eidem. “We have taken all of the feedback on board, and are working hard to make sure CropTec 2014 is even better.” Visitors surveyed said they enjoyed ‘meeting technical people to discuss subjects in detail’; ‘useful information provided in seminars, particularly following last year’s poor harvest’, and the ‘level of information on offer’.

CropTec 2014 ● Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th November PROUDLY SPONSORED BY ● East of England Showground, Peterborough




AF Apr p40 41 42 44 Potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 13/03/2014 11:11 Page 4

FEATURE ROOT CROPS says. “Conversely, fitting tracks at the front does offer a higher degree of machine manoeuvrability. “And machine stability is much better on tracks – a lot of lateral movement caused by tyre flex is simply eliminated.” Grimme is not the only firm offering root crop harvesters on tracks. Agrifac also has a machine in its sugar beet harvester line-up on tracks, called the Optitraxx. The harvester spreads its weight across a pair of 760mm wide, 2,250mm long rubber tracks that can be fitted in place of the front wheels, and mounted directly to the axles. Beet chaser Wisbech contractor Nigel Harrison has developed a self-propelled beet chaser to provide an in-field solution when harvesting in less than ideal conditions. While not on tracks, the machine runs on eight 750/50x30.5 tyres and puts ground pressure in a zone that is close to that of tracked equipment. The 350hp machine is based on a Terex TA30 articulated dump truck, but instead of staying with the ADT’s conventional 30-tonne capacity tipping body, it uses a Larrington-designed ejector body. In addition, the chassis has been stretched to help carry the 20-tonne capacity ejector body, and also to accommodate a fourth axle to spread weight. “There are some extremely good factory-built self-propelled chasers in the marketplace, but with price tags over £300,000, they simply don’t stack up on price,” says Mr Harrison. He adds trailers with powered axles and a suitably powerful tractor up front are likely to cost close to £200,000, which makes the ADT conversion a


The Optitraxx beet harvester spreads its weight across a pair of rubber tracks which can be mounted to the axles.

Machine stability is much better on tracks – a lot of lateral movement caused by tyre flex is simply eliminated Ralph Powell

more affordable solution. “We have been building and using our own types of self-propelled chaser for many years,” he says. “Although we had been without one for the last few years, a couple of extremely wet winters suddenly put the concept back on the radar.” Currently, the Harrison team runs three self-propelled beet harvesters and handles a 3,000-hectare workload each season. Each harvesting team has a different transport solution that suits customers and their budgets.


He acknowledges soil condition is a sensitive area for many growers. “Lifting beet isn’t like cereal harvesting,” he says. “The kit we run is very heavy and it is on the land at the wrong time of year – so we must do what we can to tread carefully.” His 10-year-old, 7,000-hour ADT donor was the ideal starting point for a low ground pressure chaser. Identified as an affordable solution, the machine has had its original suspension replaced by an air-ride system and that fourth extra axle is soon to be replaced by a steering axle. Manoeuvrability from the pivot-steer machine is said to be comparable to Mr Harrison’s John Deere/Larrington Majestic trailer combination. “The simplicity of the concept – which is being marketed through Larrington Trailers – is that customers could specify a new ADT, a secondhand ADT or they could supply their own donor machine. “What we have found is that ejected beet makes a

much denser clamp. British Sugar has found it contains up to 60% more beet than traditional clamps,” he says. He adds the ejector is capable of making a tidier clamp, which offers a flat top that is easier to protect from frost. “Although we only managed to put the new machine to work for five weeks, customers have commented on how much better the clamps are and how little impact the chaser has had on field conditions.” Mr Harrison says the low ground pressure characteristics and carrying capacity of the chaser lends itself to other loadcarrying tasks throughout the farming calendar. “The Terex is old school, low-level technology,” he says. “Against newer kit that seems to be more costly, laden with electronics and with sometimes questionable reliability, this is a positive step forward for us and our customers. “There is no reason why an ex-construction industry machine as robust as this shouldn’t last 10-15 years and for up to 30,000 hours.”

AF Apr p45 46 47 48 49 PF for potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 14:23 Page 1


Precision farming equipment is finding favour among potato growers, reports Jane Carley.

Boosting profitability with precision in roots igh value crops such as potatoes have always offered potential for increased profitability from the use of precision farming equipment. And with the technology becoming increasingly familiar, it is the growers themselves who appear to be leading the way. Staffordshire potato grower James Daw became interested in yield mapping his crop as a way of establishing why yields have plateaued and


A Grimme Tectron 415 potato harvester is equipped with yield monitoring equipment from Soil Essentials.

studying variability within the field. He says: â&#x20AC;&#x153;By looking at

lower yielding areas and considering soil types, fertility, water availability and potato

cyst nematode levels in our planting and agronomic strategy, we hope to increase X



AF Apr p45 46 47 48 49 PF for potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:42 Page 2

FEATURE ROOT CROPS W marketable yield and cut costs.” Mr Daw grows 355 hectares of potatoes in Staffordshire for the processing market, and invested in a four-row Grimme Tectron self-propelled harvester for the 2012 harvest. Working with Grimme and precision farming specialist Soil Essentials, he has developed a yield mapping system for the harvester. Weigh cells are fitted below the harvester’s conveyor, with data transferred to the controller via a ‘tilt sensor’ which corrects for ground undulations and the angle of the conveyor. The control box, which can be the harvester’s own unit or a Trimble FmX terminal, calculates the yield using the width of the bed and the area travelled. Yield maps are shown on the monitor and can be transferred back to the farm office in real time. Soil Essentials managing director Jim Wilson says:

Standen bedformers at Highflyer Farms are steered via John Deere’s Greenstar RTK, with increased efficiency.

“Potato yield maps are very data dense compared to a cereals map and also highly accurate as you are measuring every two metres of every bed, rather than the mixture taken from the full width of a combine header. Mapping “A higher resolution map is produced, which is easier to

read as point data than as a contour map, and it is possible to pinpoint problem areas as 3-4m rather than 10-20m for a combine.” Mr Daw says the system has proved extremely accurate. In 2012 and 2013 he weighed every potato into the store and every ounce of soil and debris out of the store to

measure this level of accuracy. “The maps show PCN hotspots, footpaths, fertiliser misses, etc, and we then map the soil types using Soil Essentials soil conductivity testing. “This gives us an application map to control the planter for variable rate planting according to soil type.” Grimme’s GB215 planter is

Andrew Manfield worked with precision specialist SBG to develop a steered ridger, said to offer increased accuracy of ridging and other operations.



AF Apr p45 46 47 48 49 PF for potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 13/03/2014 11:17 Page 3


A tilt sensor helps as it provides corrections for field contours and the angle of the conveyor.

used with the company’s CCI IsoBus terminal which alters the configuration code for seed potato spacing according to site specific information from the map and the tractor’s GPS receiver. Headland management, auto shut-off and fertiliser placement capabilities have also been incorporated by Grimme.

Phosphate variability alone gives application rates from zero to 350kg/ha, so there is definitely scope [for savings] James Daw Mr Daw says: “It is very early days to be talking about savings. “But phosphate variability alone gives application rates from zero to 350kg/ha so there is definitely scope.” According to Jim Wilson there is potential for use with a wide range of high value vegetable crops, with X

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Potato blight can devastate your crop. And with new aggressive strains dominant in the field, investing in the right protection is more important than ever. Infinito not only provides excellent foliar and tuber blight control, but combined with its unrivalled kick-back activity, delivers at early stages of infection. So you can be confident that your crop is in good hands. Keep your potatoes and profits healthy, visit bayercropscience.co.uk/infinito

www.bayercropscience.co.uk Three-row beds established with Manterra implement steering technology.



Infinito is a registered trademark of Bayer. Infinito contains fluopicolide and propamocarb hydrochloride. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. Pay attention to the risk indications and follow the safety precautions on the label. For further information, please visit www.bayercropscience.co.uk or call Bayer Assist on 0845 6092266 / 01223 226644. © Bayer CropScience Limited 2014.

AF Apr p45 46 47 48 49 PF for potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:43 Page 4

FEATURE ROOT CROPS If you don’t steer the ridger, destoners can’t follow – the ridges go out of line Andrew Manfield

Andrew Manfield is a partner in specialist machinery company Manterra.

W enquiries even for field grown tomatoes overseas. As well as the development work with James Daw and Grimme, potato yield mapping units have also been sold direct to customers. Mr Wilson says: “There is a greater potential to improve profitability than with cereals. The traditional approach has simply been to increase the acreage, but with areas yielding less than 10t/acre, the grower is losing money. “It may be better not to plant these areas at all and focus on the higher yielding parts of the field.” While Mr Daw says the trials are currently offering ‘more questions than answers’, he agrees mapping can lead to more marketable yield with less variability. “We could end up not planting up to 10% of the area, having established it has the highest costs and lowest consistent yield. “It is a very exciting project – there is more understanding of soil requirements for potatoes so the possibilities are there. “The potato industry needs


to catch up because of the pressure on growers to be more efficient and meet ever higher environmental standards.”

Steering for accuracy Yorkshire potato grower Manfield and Knapton was looking to increase the accuracy of its cultivation operations using precision farming, but realised tractor auto-steer alone did not offer the solution. Andrew Manfield says: “We grow about 40ha of potatoes for certified seed. We realised with repeat operations such as soil preparation for potato planting, adding implement steer offered greater repeatability, and began to work with Dutch manufacturer SBG to develop a system suited to UK conditions.” The SBGuidance TWIN implement steer system is operated via a single terminal, with the position of both the tractor and the implement measured with its own GPS antenna. Because the tractor movements often differ from the


implement, both are equipped with their own DynamIQ terrain compensation. The tractor is hydraulically controlled with disc coulters installed behind the implement to provide the steering function. One challenge is UK growers create ridges in order to destone or declod. Ridges are made three or four at a time and each stage of the soil preparation process must be steered, Mr Manfield says. He says: “If you don’t steer the ridger, destoners can’t follow – the ridges go out of line and the tractor follows the theoretical line dictated by its own auto-steer and climbs ridges. “We adapted the SBG disc steer system to ridging bodes and can create four 76-inch ridges with a 190hp tractor. “There is no need to use a complicated three-and-a-half bed implement with a parallelogram, as an additional benefit is steering the implement makes better use of tractor power. Connection “This is due to the fact there is no need for a rigid connection to the tractor to keep the implement in the ridges.” Mr Manfield says with the tractor and implement steered, the destoner is also easier to drive, with all of the beds matched up perfectly with minimal effort. Another benefit is potatoes

can be grown in a seasonal controlled traffic system. The land is ploughed, but then all subsequent operations take place in the same ridges and the soil in which the potato roots grow is untrafficked. Andrew Manfield is a partner in specialist machinery supplier Manterra, which now imports the SBG range, and commercial contracts have included developing a system for an organic carrot grower. He says: “This customer can now locate carrot seed accurately in the bed so blind weeding without waiting for carrot tops to emerge is possible. This makes a significant difference to his bunched carrot operation.” RTK boosts flexibility P.J. Lee and Sons farm 2,632ha in Cambridgeshire, growing wheat, sugar beet and potatoes as well as energy crops. Land is also rented out to local vegetable growers as part of the rotation. Some 40,000 tonnes of potatoes are produced each year, mainly for the chipping market, on Grade 1 and Grade 2 soils, much of which is irrigated. Two planting systems are in operation, as grower Andrew Lee explains: “The first planting team, which works mainly on heavier soils, uses a Topcon RTK-steered Challenger with a deep cultivator. “This is followed by a John Deere 6210R pulling a Standen triple bedformer with subsoiler legs and bed loosening tines, guided by John Deere Greenstar RTK.” Three Standen Powavators, seven soil separators and two planters then follow the ridges made with the bedformer. The second system also uses a Challenger and deep cultivator followed by two John

AF Apr p45 46 47 48 49 PF for potatoes TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 14:22 Page 5


Cells under the Grimme’s conveyor help provide yield measurements.

Deere 8630s, guided by a John Deere Greenstar RTK, powering Baselier triple bed tillers. Two Structural planters follow this operation as it is not satellite guided. To ensure a good signal at the various sites, one of three base stations are used – one situated on a store, a second trailer mounted and a third on a tripod. “We previously used two Standen ridgers, but by using RTK steering, we can maintain accuracy on foggy days and at night, and can ridge 24

hours a day. This has allowed us to eliminate the second machine,” says Mr Lee. “It is much more efficient and we are able to keep ahead of the following operations with just one man and a tractor.” Maintenance On the second system, he says the team has more time for maintenance and for reworking stronger areas if necessary. Mr Lee says: “The driver of the Standen bedformer is a

the tractor to the rear of the implement to set up the autosteer, but once entered into the Greenstar screen, the bedformer can simply be selected from a menu as required. “The system is very user-friendly – even our more senior operators have taken to it and use it for all of their work.”

very competent operator, but the auto-steer has helped him considerably. “Operators can concentrate on the implement rather than having to worry about steering, so they can spot any potential issues before they become a problem. “There is also less operator fatigue.” In wet years, the ability to map the operation allows a return to a wet area when conditions improve, without overworking other areas which have already been prepared. “We can even plant on the lighter land and then subsequently set up the stronger soil operation either side if necessary,” says Mr Lee. With a new bedformer added to the fleet in 2013, Mr Lee needed to take measurements including the offset and the distance from the centre of

By using RTK steering, we can maintain accuracy on foggy days and at night, and can ridge 24 hours a day Andrew Lee

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Talking Arable


March 2014

Jim Bullock, Andrew Robinson, Daniel Seed Pages 8-13



Sugar beet harvesters

yellow rust threat

Latest machines in action

Call 0844 543 8021 and quote AFHA Alternatively visit subscription.co.uk/af/afha

High HP tractors

Wheels or tracks at 400hp plus?


Precision farming

Assessing agronomy benef its

Ultimate application efficiency with individual nozzle control

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Innovation in action for progre ssive

arable farmers

Innovation in action for progressive arable farmers APRIL 2014 ARABLE FARMING


AF Apr p50 51 slug control EP TR_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:11 Page 1


The withdrawal of approval for slug pellet active ingredient methiocarb will mean a rethink of slug control in potatoes. Georgina Haigh talks to the experts about what it means for growers.

Planning slug control in potatoes post-methiocarb rowers will have until September 19, 2014 to buy in stocks of methiocarb slug pellets and until September 19, 2015 to use up stocks, the EU Commission has announced. Although written confirmation from the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) was pending as Arable Farming went to press, it is understood that in the UK this means slug pellets containing methiocarb must be purchased by September 18, 2014 and used by September 18, 2015, says methiocarb pellet manufacturer Bayer CropScience. The news has come as a blow to growers and follows a vote by EU member states in December 2013 to withdraw approval for all methiocarb slug pellets. The withdrawal of the second most commonly used molluscicide in the UK will leave potato growers with ferric phosphate and metaldehyde as options for slug control. Potatoes are usually susceptible to slug damage from before canopy closure and at the early stages of bulking. Dominic Lamb, of Chiltern Farm Chemicals, says: “They enter the tuber and cause holes on the surface and deeper in the tissue, thereby affecting both yield and quality. Growers need to monitor crops carefully and if necessary



apply slug pellets.” Tuber hollowing can render crops unmarketable and for most outlets the allowance for total defects, including bruising and slug hollowing is only 5%. The Potato Council has estimated that, if left totally uncontrolled, slugs could result in potato growers losing £53 million each year. In March, levy body AHDB, of which Potato Council is a sector division, announced new funding of £300,000 for research into slug control in arable crops, potatoes and field vegetables. Reliability Methiocarb has been a popular choice in the UK and forms the cornerstone of slug management programmes. Dr Eric Anderson, of Scottish Agronomy, says: “In seven years of Scottish Agronomy trials, methiocarb proved the most reliable molluscicide. “We found methiocarb was consistently the most robust treatment, in that it gave the best control of slugs under pressure and the greatest reduction in tuber hollowing.” According to Dr Andy Evans of SRUC, methiocarb’s formulation and persistency have, in the past, been seen to be better than those of other materials. However, in the last four to five years, metaldehyde has been just as good, he says. But while metaldehyde currently provides an


Slug damage could cost growers £53 million a year if not treated.

alternative to methiocarb, regulatory pressure in the form of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) means the future of this active ingredient is uncertain. Use of metaldehyde in potatoes will also have implications for its use in a following crop. Current limits restrict applications to 210g metaldehyde/ha in one single application and 700g/ha in one calendar year. This situation can be managed by using ferric phosphate and metaldehyde in a programme, says Robert Lidstone of Certis, which markets both ferric phosphate and metaldehyde slug pellets. Use of ferric phosphate, which has performed well in potato crops over several seasons, represents an opportunity for growers to continue using metaldehyde without exceeding limits, he says. This advice is echoed by

Paul Fogg of MAUK and spokesman for the industry-led Metaldehyde Stewardship Group, who says growers should mix actives and combine chemical with cultural control measures. Pilot areas However, for those growers involved in the new ‘zero metaldehyde’ pilot areas in Hertfordshire and Warwickshire, the only alternative in practice is ferric phosphate. Metaldehyde and ferric phosphate can be applied to potatoes in the same way as methiocarb and rates are dependent on the product being used and maximum total dose limits. However, Mr Lidstone points out that the way growers judge pellet results needs to be considered differently with ferric phosphate. “Whilst they achieve an immediate cessation

AF Apr p50 51 slug control EP TR_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:11 Page 2

ROOT CROPS FEATURE What to do after the ban on methiocarb rAny purchases of methiocarb slug pellets must be made by September 18, 2014 and stocks will must be used up by September 18, 2015 rFerric phosphate and metaldehyde remain available as slug pellet active ingredients rCritical control periods in potatoes still 50-75% canopy closure and July/August

rHeed MSG guidelines including: 1. Maximum total dose from August 1 to December 31 of 210g ai/ha in a single application 2. Maximum total dose rate of 700g metaldehyde/ha per calendar year 3. No pellets to be applied within six metres of a watercourse

in feeding, the slugs retreat underground to die, so carcasses and slime trails are not as evident as with methiocarb and metaldehyde, but the crop protection result is equally good,” he says. According to Dr Evans, the timing of slug pellet applications is key in potatoes. He says: “Slug pellets have to be applied before the leaves of the canopy are reaching across the rows – any later and you have no control over where the pellets land and they bounce off the leaves of the crop. “Trials have shown if you miss that timing, you will not get a reasonable level of control.” Timing of application also varies according to slug pressure, says Simon McMunn of De Sangosse, which markets a range of metaldehyde slug

pellets. He recommends applying the first dose of metaldehyde at 50-75% canopy complete. He urges growers accustomed to using methiocarb to switch to a similar quality metaldehyde pellet to ensure effective control of slugs. He says: “What made the methiocarb pellets of such high quality was the wet process system used in their manufacture.” Ground cover Frontier roots specialist Reuben Morris adds: “The first application is critical; there should be 50% or more ground cover, which will allow the pellets through the foliage but is enough for slug activity. “A second dose of pellets should go on in July or early

The defect and slug hollowing allowance for outlets is just 5%.

Critical control points for slugs in potatoes remain the same if ferric phosphate or metaldehyde are used in place of methiocarb.

August as the canopy dies away.” Bayer CropScience, which currently markets methiocarbbased pellets Draza Forte and Decoy Wetex, is hopeful it has enough stock to cover ‘normal’ methiocarb usage for at least one season. The company says methiocarb will be available for use this season and should be targeted at critical control periods (CCP) in potatoes. The two main CCPs are at 50-75% canopy cover and just before slugs start to feed on maturing tubers. Treatments applied before 50-75% canopy cover add relatively little to the efficacy of the overall control programme, says Bayer. In terms of the second CCP, pellets need to be applied when slugs are likely to be active on the soil surface, usually in August, but actual timing is determined by weather, irrigation and slug species present. John Sarup, of SPUD Agronomy, has hitherto relied on methiocarb as the backbone of his slug management programme. He says: “I am obviously looking at all the options for slug management without methiocarb but, as my customers cannot afford to

have crops rejected and as we can still use methiocarb this season, I will be using it at the CCPs for the 2014 crop.” Cultural control In a high slug pressure year, cultural control options could play an important role alongside slug pellets. “All cultivations can reduce slug and egg populations,” says Mr Morris. In contrast, straw incorporation has been shown to increase slug numbers, so removing straw and incorporating stubble can help. Weed control between rows can also reduce the foliage available to slugs. Varietal choice is an option, but is not workable for potato growers growing on contract. Rotation should be considered and oilseed rape before or after a potato crop should be avoided.

More information www.getpelletwise.co.uk www.bayercropscience.co.uk www.certiseurope.co.uk www.chilternfarm.com www.desangosse.co.uk www.frontierag.co.uk www.mauk.co.uk www.sruc.ac.uk www.potato.org.uk



AF Apr p52 53 54 potato storage EP TR_Layout 1 13/03/2014 13:56 Page 1


Half of the UK’s potatoes are stored away for periods ranging from a few weeks to many months. Martin Rickatson reports from the Potato Council’s Storage 2020 conference held in Peterborough.

Exploring the future of potato crop storage hile some 3.5 million to 4m tonnes of annual UK potato production goes into storage, the costs of keeping it there can vary widely depending on storage length. For short duration bulk storage for the processing market it can cost about £20/tonne, while for nine months’ refrigerated box storage it costs about £54/t. It is not only storage experts who are working on reducing these figures, but breeders and plant scientists too. This is according to Dr Finlay Dale, of Scottish-based research organisation the James Hutton Institute.

Research should help improve potato variety storage characteristics Dr Finlay Dale


Speaking at the Potato Council’s Storage 2020 event, he said only about two-thirds of commercially available varieties have dormancy rated moderate or better, and less than one-fifth have long or very long dormancy.

Dr Dale said: “This is a major problem for those who store potatoes, particularly with limits for CIPC use under review by the EU. “Low temperature storage is one answer, but it is expensive and has a detrimental effect on

Short dormancy poses problems for those who store potatoes, particularly with CIPC limits under review.



tuber composition, affecting areas such as fry quality. “Trials have shown levels of acrylamide, a problem chemical created during frying of potatoes, is higher in French fries produced from refrigerated potatoes.” As a result, plant scientists are working on breeding programmes with the twin aims of limiting those storage costs while maintaining tuber quality, said Dr Dale. He said: “Crops for chipping and crisping, typically stored at higher temperatures – about 8 to 11degC – than pre-pack crops, are therefore a particular focus. Reducing sugars “While these higher temperatures minimise the build-up of reducing sugars such as glucose and fructose, which cause potatoes to produce dark-coloured crisps and chips, storage at these temperatures for more than a few weeks normally requires chemical sprout suppression. “Work is ongoing into looking at cultivars which have low reducing sugar levels. “Sucrose availability is a pre-requisite for bud-break and it acts as both a nutrient and a signal molecule. “Two phytohormones – ABA and ethylene – are known to suppress tuber sprouting, but the exact role of ethylene remains to be clarified. “Research into these areas should help improve potato variety storage characteristics.”


Seed will need additional protection focus this spring JPOTATO seed treatment should come under scrutiny this spring, with wet soils likely to provide ideal harbouring ground for seed-borne diseases, speakers at the conference suggested. Rutland-based Turner Agriculture’s David Turner said: “Whatever your seed treatment plan, any product used needs to cover as much as possible of the tubers’ surface area. “Roller tables provide by far the best method of presentation of the tubers to application equipment. But they need to be loaded and operated correctly so the tubers are rotating sufficiently at the site of application which will ensure thorough coverage is achieved.”

With new rotary nozzle applicators such as Team Sprayers’ CTC 2 coming to the market, early trials of this type of equipment suggest it provides the most effective way of ensuring thorough tuber/fungicide coverage, Mr Turner said. “Rotating nozzles have been shown to provide at least 75% tuber coverage, compared with 46% for traditional spinning disc systems and 53% for hydraulic nozzle set-ups.” Water volumes He also suggested higher water volumes of up to two litres per tonne were highly likely to produce much better levels

of adhesion and deposition. “But in order to achieve best results, treatment areas must be enclosed to prevent drift. This not only ensures the safety of the operator and any other persons present, but ensures the tubers receive their intended dose.”

Rotating nozzles have been shown to provide at least 75% tuber coverage David Turner

Alternative to CIPC on its way next year

JA NEW food additive-based sprout suppressant product based on a naturally-occurring compound with no anticipated maximum residue limit should be available for use in potato stores for the 2015 season. Distributed in Western Europe by Certis, ‘3-decen-2-one’ was discovered by Washington State University, and was registered for use in the US and Canada last year. Western Europe registration is anticipated for spring 2015. Applied by fogging, the product acts on the cellular membranes of young meristematic tissue. Mature skin is unaffected, while dead sprouts can be removed by washing and brushing.

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AF Apr p52 53 54 potato storage EP TR_Layout 1 14/03/2014 10:48 Page 3


StoreCheck standardises efficiency assessment

JWith energy representing the largest proportion of potato store running costs, the sector still offers a good deal of opportunity for store owners and operators to reduce their overall storage expenditure. This is the thinking behind the Potato Council’s launch of its new StoreCheck service, according to Adrian Cunnington, head of its associated Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility. The service enables store efficiency to be measured on a standardised basis, designed to provide growers with access to the expertise of storage

specialists and help them put any possible improvements in air leakage reduction and distribution into action. Independent data collated from Potato Council R&D has shown efficiency and running cost variations between stores - in some cases on the same site - of up to 300%.

JThe level of blackleg detected in the UK has been relatively low in recent years when compared with the 1980s. But the disease has not gone away, warned Prof Ian Toth of the James Hutton Institute. He pointed out there has been a steady rise over the past 10 years in identified cases. Good crop hygiene is crucial to keeping it at bay, he told the conference. Infection of seed tubers occurs through contact with contaminated material on graders and other machinery and contaminated tubers. In-field contamination also stems from already-infected plants, volunteers, alternative hosts, water and soil, with transfer occurring through insects and rain splash. Prof Toth said: “There are a number of potential control options, the use of Safe Haven seed being a major one.

“Manipulation of calcium and nitrogen fertiliser inputs can also have an effect. “While other methods are less easily influenced by the grower, they still offer potential. These include partial resistance in some cultivars – although no commercial cultivars are fully immune – the use of biological controls and the

Examination A StoreCheck assessment will include measurement of air leakage and examination of factors which affect air flow, such as stacking depths and patterns, ventilation, insulation and refrigeration capability.

Mr Cunnington said: “The store leakage equivalent in stores we have assessed has varied from less than one square metre to as much as 5.5sq.m. “It could be costing as much as 55% more to run a leaky store. But air movement is just as important in store efficiency. “Control of store climate and uniformity is critical to maintaining the quality of crop in store. Air is our control mechanism and it needs to be delivered uniformly. “But resistance comes from any point where air is

accelerated, has to turn bends or overcome other restrictions and, of course, where it passes through heaps or boxes. This resistance needs more energy to overcome it.” The aim when reassessing a store’s design should be to ensure even delivery of air to each box in the store, said Mr Cunnington. In many buildings, air moves around the boxes but not through them. “Velocity pressure should move the air from A to B, while static pressure – resulting from restriction – should distribute it evenly.”

use of hot water seed tuber treatment. The latter idea has been trialled before and should perhaps be looked at again. “Good storage conditions may prevent soft rot in store and reduce bacteria on the tuber surface and apical buds.” Prof Toth said best practice for handling and storage should be the use of one-tonne boxes in stores operated with at low temperatures and

with good ventilation to prevent the formation of condensation on tuber surfaces, which aids pathogen multiplication.

Identify possible blackleg causes in crops


Good storage conditions may prevent soft rot in store and reduce bacteria on the tuber surface and apical buds Prof Ian Toth


AF Apr p55 56 57 Machinery TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:13 Page 1


Controlled traffic practices are rising in popularity in combinable crops, but with a little planning, there is no reason why the principle cannot be applied to root crops. Geoff Ashcroft reports.

Assessing the benefits of CTF in sugar beet ccording to Tim Chamen at CTF Europe, controlled traffic farming (CTF) is the start of a journey to reduce production costs and increase yields, which requires a whole farm approach to the separation of crops and wheels. It is a system which avoids the extensive soil damage and costs imposed by traditional methods, he says. “Much of the time and energy we put into soils is to undo the compaction damage we have caused by driving machines all over fields,” says Mr Chamen. “It is a system which turns our present production system on its head by leaving 80-90% of fields completely without compaction.” The problem is not limited to tramline-based, arable crops, he says. Controlling traffic is logical and involves confining all field machines to the least


With RTK guidance, electric seed metering and 50cm row widths, precision planting lends itself to CTF systems.

possible area of permanent traffic lanes. He suggests, with a little planning, CTF can be implemented on a wide variety of crop types, including roots and vegetables. “The opportunities to farm more productively through controlled traffic appear to be enormous for the root crop sector,” he says. “Direct planting of potatoes after

It is possible for precision drills with 12-rows and a 6m width and 18-rows and 9m width to easily fit a controlled traffic system.

onions is a great example – you have not damaged the soil.” He believes one of the biggest benefits could come from not ploughing ahead of sowing sugar beet. “Establishing beet into a soil which has not had deep and rigorous tillage methods applied to it for years would appear to hold many advantages,” he says. “Soil is good at repairing itself, but it needs time.” Seedbeds While Mr Chamen accepts beet harvesting is an area where controlled traffic does not quite work, he says fields subjected to cropping under a controlled traffic regime for several years could offer a good foundation for a beet crop. “Strip tillage or shallow cultivations could enable a good seedbed for sugar beet,” he says. “And there would be no need to plough.

“While sandy loams will not repair themselves much in 12 months, under a controlled traffic policy and in a longterm rotation, they are likely to become firmer under foot, they should stand drier and with improved elasticity, are likely to release a crop of beet far easier during harvesting. “This is why we need to establish a lot more CTF trials in root crops,” he says. “We do need to gather more data and we really need more growers using CTF to establish just how much the sugar content and yields vary from growing their beet within a controlled traffic environment. “There are huge opportunities to make improvements through controlled traffic – even if it’s just for one field.” From Bracebridge Heath near Lincoln, Andrew Scoley has adopted a 9m controlled traffic system at his 465- hectare



AF Apr p55 56 57 Machinery TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 09:13 Page 2

MACHINERY SUGAR BEET Manor Farm since joining forces with neighbour Mathew Neesham, of John Neesham Farms. He says: “We standardised on a 9m system to fit with our John Deere combine and this led to putting tractors on a 2.5m centres. “The sprayer is 36m, our Dale drill is 9m and we use 18m rolls. But with tractors and trailers at almost 3m to the outside of tyres, it is a bit of a pain on B-roads and narrow lanes.” He says CTF works well where the farm does not grow roots. An element of success is measured by needing only a 200hp tractor to handle the farm’s 9m Dale drill. “We grow 170 acres of beet. It does not really fit our CTF system, despite our local contractor using an 18-row Kverneland precision drill, which measures out to 9m,” says Mr Scoley. He chooses to drill beet at 90-degrees to the permanent tramlines used for controlled traffic. His logic is simple – he reverts to the CTF system after

Harvesters remain a stumbling block for CTF in beet. “A lot of kit is far too heavy,” suggests Andrew Scoley.

lifting, which makes it easy to level up and tidy the field surface using just a Horsch Terrano 9m cultivator. “There are compromises to make in any system, but we are prepared to give something different a try,” he explains. “After a couple of very wet and challenging seasons, we have yet to establish any real benefits from growing sugar beet this way.” He says the biggest problem is that modern machinery is just too heavy, but adds controlled traffic has improved soil health and made implements easier to pull. “If we could have a

Rotation Jeremy Durrant, who manages The Hydes near Thaxted, Essex, for E.W. Davies Farms, recently switched to a controlled traffic system on the heavy land farm. It means all crops in the rotation – including 69ha (170 acres) of sugar beet – fall into

the remit for a controlled traffic system. “We have recently reintroduced sugar beet to our rotation as a means of avoiding stem nematode in pulses, but it is creating a few challenges from a controlled traffic perspective. “Everything works out great until the beet harvester comes into the field,” he says. The farm moved progressively to a 12m CTF system after the 2011 harvest, he says. With the last few changes in equipment now complete, Mr Durrant has completed the first full season from cultivation to harvest on

foundation stones for what we now identify as an in-field controlled traffic system. The current Danish wide span vehicle project has been designed as a tool

carrying structure and standard farm implements are attached and carried using three point linkages. So far, the principle has been tried and tested in cultivation, windrowing and harvesting operations, proving there is great potential for wide span rigs in reduced tramlining and increasing productivity in high value, multi-crop operations. While there have been enquiries into the wide span vehicle system, there are no plans to put the machine into production until a clear and standardised format is established.

lightweight 18-row harvester with a very small bunker capacity, and run trailers as chasers on our 9m system, we could probably make CTF work very well with beet,” he explains. “We could then stay on our permanent tramlines throughout the entire rotation.”

Wide span research vehicle rThis wide span machine is a research and development project involving ASA-Lift, Aarhus University in Denmark and a number of other Danish institutions. Its 9.8-metre track width structure has been developed and built with independent steering wheels to afford a narrow road transport width but offer reduced tramlines in-field. It is a system which brings a whole new dimension to CTF and has the potential to deliver a trafficked area of less than 10%. However, the ASA-Lift project is not the first of its



kind – some readers may recall the Dowler Gantry, which followed a similar design concept through the 1970s and 1980s. Clearly way ahead of its time, it was to lay the

AF Apr p55 56 57 Machinery TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 10:01 Page 3

SUGAR BEET MACHINERY from cultivation to harvest on a controlled traffic system. He says the farm settled on 2.23m centres for machines, which was governed by the farm’s Lexion combine and Quadtrac tractor. “They have fixed axle widths, so this was our starting point,” he says. “We chose to match everything to the Quadtrac and with correct tyre choices on other tractors, we ended up with a trafficked area across the farm reduced to 31 per cent from an average of around 80 per cent.” But the greatest challenge lies in sugar beet production. Mr Durrant suggests extending the rotation to one in six, or perhaps one in eight, for beet could allow the farm to reap the benefits of CTF through the existing wheat, oilseed rape, peas and beans element of the rotation, accepting it will

We ended up with a trafficked area across the farm reduced to 31% from an average of around 80% Jeremy Durrant

be near impossible to maintain when harvesting beet. “It is something we still need to assess – if CTF helps us to achieve more yields and better soil condition in other crops, we might be in a position to enjoy some of those benefits with beet, even if it does undo some of the good that CTF has helped to put into place.

Growing sugar beet as part of a controlled traffic system is not without its challenges, suggests Essex grower Jeremy Durrant.

“We cultivate at 6m and plant beet with a 12-row, 6m Unicorn drill which fits in with our CTF system,” he

says. “The only aspect which does not fit our traffic system is the contractor’s beet harvester.”

More information rCTF: www.controlledtrafficfarming.com rSoil Association: www.soilassociation.org rBritish Beet Research Organisation: www.bbro.co.uk


AF Apr p58 59 60 Precision TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 13:21 Page 1


Benefiting from a precision approach to soil management more precise understanding of soils and their variation across every field is vital to make the most of latest GPSbased farming technologies. That is according to Agrii precision agronomy specialist John Lord, who suggests while modern precision technologies enable a range of inputs to be automatically adjusted according to wide variations in soils across fields, without accurately mapping and appreciating these variations inputs cannot be tailored to make the most of them. He says: “We know from our SoilQuest experience accurate

studies over the past two seasons underline the importance of moving beyond traditional manual to much more precise laser soil texture analysis. To such an extent that we’ve made laser topsoil analysis standard across our advanced precision agronomy mapping services.”


With input plans entered into GPS-linked variable rate sowing and application equipment it takes no more time or effort to manage five soil zones in a field than two, says Agrii specialist John Lord.

soil maps produced from infield scanning or satellite tech-

nology are far more valuable precision farming resources than those developed through either conventional whole field or grid-based soil sampling. Allied to precision sampling, they show us how the soil actually varies across the field rather than how either informed guesswork or computer predictions suggest it might. “In just the same way, our Figure 1: Soil Texture Classification



Classifications Rolling soil between the fingers to judge clay, silt and sand content, is highly subjective. Even the best trained hands can only accurately allocate a soil to one of eleven standard classifications. Yet within these soil types there are huge variations in actual particle size distribution. A clay loam, for instance, can be anything from 30% to 50% clay, 50% to 75% silt and 30% to 60% sand (figure 1). This would not matter but for the fact that such differences in content can have a major impact on crop establishment, nutrient behaviour, water-holding, pH correction,

AF Apr p58 59 60 Precision TR EP_Layout 1 13/03/2014 14:34 Page 2

TECHNICAL PRECISION FARMING Figure 2: Melton Big Field Soil Texturing following SoilQuest Scanning

portive of slugs and blackgrass, and more responsive to early spring nitrogen - all of which means they could benefit from different management.

nutrient mineralisation, compaction risk and friability for cultivation, among other important crop management considerations. “Independent laboratory laser analysis allows us to characterise soil zones within a field accurately and consistently for their actual contents of sand, silt and clay particles for the greatest agronomic precision,” says Mr Lord. Soil texturing “Its value is clearly illustrated in one 22ha field we’ve mapped using both methods of soil texturing with samples taken following SoilQuest conductivity scanning. Manual texturing divides the field into two soil types – clay and clay loam. But laser analysis shows it should actually be divided into between five and nine separate zones for the best management (figure 2). “Zones within both the main soil type areas vary by a good 5% in their clay content alone. And the sand content varies by

Relatively small differences in the particle size distribution of soils can make big differences to their properties, says John Lord.

as much as 8% between zones that appear identical from manual texturing.” As well as a different approach to potash fertilisation, Mr Lord says soils with lower clay and higher sand particle contents require a different liming strategy to those with a higher clay fraction. They are also likely to suffer compaction at a shallower depth, be more susceptible to drought at low soil moisture levels, less sup-

Variable rate “Once input plans are entered into GPS-linked variable rate sowing and application equipment it takes no more time or effort to manage five zones in a field than two,” he says. “So it makes sense to use the technology with as much precision as we can. Otherwise we’re really not making the most of it. “Knowing the precise sand, silt and clay contents of soils across our fields allows us to make the most of the precision input technologies already at our disposal. It also enables us to take the greatest advantage of new technologies for precision spraying and cultivation as they are developed.” Agrii is using this knowledge to develop the most accurate rule sets to translate the findings of its black-grass competitiveness, soil improve-

ment, crop nutrition and other research into the most accurate precision agronomy plans. Add real-time information from the company’s network of weather stations, data from its automatic soil moisture probes and alerts from its pest and disease prediction models and he sees precision farming moving up a major gear in the opportunities it offers for arable improvement. But, Mr Lord insists, it must all be built on the most precise understanding of soil. “To my mind, the world of soil understanding has moved on from ‘first generation’ field sampling in a simple W pattern and ‘second generation’ grid-based systems to the 3G of soil conductivity measurement,” says Mr Lord. “Laser texture analysis gives the extra precision to move us into the 4G world in which we need to be to take full advantage of modern technologies for the best-informed precision farming decision making.”



AF Apr p58 59 60 Precision TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:44 Page 3


Case study: Value in better understanding soil

JAt Glebe Farm, Saxelby near Melton Mowbray, father and son team Bill and Eric Wright are firm advocates of the greatest possible precision in soil mapping, texturing and analysis for their 1,600 hectares of cropping. To such an extent that, as well as their own ground, they insist on SoilQuest scanning and zoning all the land they farm on contract as part each new agreement they enter into. J.N. Wright and Son, originally established by Bill’s father Jack as a dairy business just north of Leicester, grows mainly winter cereals and oilseed rape on their own land and under a variety of contract agreements across a wide area of north Leicestershire and south Nottinghamshire. The family is currently farming more than 30 separate parcels of land with a huge range of soil types. Mapping Eric Wright says: “We had all the ground at Glebe Farm SoilQuested when we moved across from Rothley two years ago. Up to 2010 we’d been using a grid-based mapping system as the basis for variable rate fertilisation and sowing. And, as laser soil texture analysis has been developed, we’ve rolled it out across our acreage. “We need to rapidly get to grips with the ground we take on to deliver the best possible returns for ourselves and our contract partners. “The complete picture scanning, laser texturing and soil analyses give us from the outset is invaluable in fine-tuning our immediate farming operations so we don’t have to rely on trial and error. It also allows us to look after soils better for the longer term – something our partners appreciate at least as much as we do.


for instance, is allowing them to produce field gross margin maps. At the same time, they’re looking at calculating machine work rates by soil zone to improve planning and operations. And they are integrating a newly-installed automatic weather station on their furthest Nottinghamshire unit into the system for greater local precision in their agronomy.

Leicestershire farmer Eric Wright says soil scanning, laser texturing and analyses gives invaluable information for fine-tuning farming operations.

We need to rapidly get to grips with the ground we take on to deliver the best possible returns Eric Wright

“Understanding the actual variations in soil texture across our fields is enabling us to be much more precise in our phosphate, potash and lime applications, in particular. Differences of 5% in clay content across a field may not seem much on the face of it. But accounting for them effectively in a fertilisation strategy can make a big difference; especially when you are managing a large acreage. “We base all our crop management on accurate zoning for what we’ve found to be consid-


erable soil variations, providing our contract partners with duplicate field maps for their own information. That way we both have a much better understanding of the potential of every piece of ground, and what is needed to make the most of it on a consistent basis.” Savings Bill and Eric vary all P, K and lime inputs and seed rates according to the precisely zoned and soil-textured fields they now have. Savings have been made in lime use, and applying phosphate and potash to the specific needs of each part of every field is paying dividends, they believe. As is varying the seed rates of both their cereals and oilseed rape according to soil status. They have also been exploring other ways in which they can improve their management. Linking all their input records with yield mapping,

Precision “The more we work with the Agrii system the more we see just what can be done through the extra precision we have in both our fieldwork and recordkeeping,” Eric says. “One block of ground we took on recently turned out to have a much higher clay content in many areas than we’d originally thought which we’ve been able to account for in our management from day one. Equally, knowing we made margins of more than £800/ha from wheat in some parts of a field against less than £500/ha from others last year, is giving more focus to future planning. “The investment we’re making is well worth it. The scanning only has to be done once to give us maps we can use over many years. Regular reanalysis of soils across the zones identified through scanning for nitrogen, phosphate, potash, pH, magnesium and sulphur and key micronutrients means we can see exactly what progress we are making as well as varying our inputs for the greatest value. “We have no doubt precision agronomy based on the best possible understanding of our soils is the way ahead. We’ve given-up managing in fields to concentrate on managing by soil zones. It is an approach we’ll be building on increasingly in the future.”

AF Apr p61 62 Precision 2 variable rate TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 13:51 Page 1


Varying inputs to match crop and field requirements has become established practice for farmers looking to cut costs and gain environmental benefits, reports Jane Carley.

In-depth approach to cutting costs and improving weed control

joint venture between two Lamma awardwinning companies will offer farmers the opportunity to use variable rate cultivations to cut costs and improve weed control. Precision farming specialist Soyl is working with Yorkshire tillage equipment manufacturer Cultivating Solutions to develop control systems for the Titan Power Drive and Rapid Lift cultivator to vary the working depth of soil loosening tines according to information from soil or weed maps. Soyl won the IVEL Award for the product or innovation which has the most positive impact on the environment for its variable rate cultivations technology at Lamma 2013, while the Titan received a certificate of merit for best new product or innovation in the over ÂŁ10,000 category.


Technology Soyl has developed the technology to adjust the working depth soil loosening legs on a cultivator according to compaction maps produced by its mapping service SubSOYL. In its development phase, the depth control unit, Autodepth, regulated the length of the cultivators hydraulic ram to automatically adjust the height of the roller and thus alter the working depth of the subsoiling leg. This is done by calculating the required distance between a sensor on the subsoiler headstock and the plate on the end of the ram

Variable rate cultivations can now be offered on Cultivating Solutions range of machinery, including the RapidLift soil loosening attachment which works with the drill to offer accurate one pass oilseed rape establishment.

to lift or lower the roller. Soyl was assisted in the project by machinery importer Opico which mounted the unit on its HeVa subsoiler. It was successfully trialled on farms last year and the recent collaboration with Cultivating Solutions will enable customers to specify the Autodepth system to be factory fitted to new machines. Cultivating Solutionsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Titan Power Drive combination cultivator features a powered rear packer roller which offers fuel savings along with low disturbance loosening legs and cultivating discs. All elements can be raised or lowered individually to suit conditions. RapidLift is a drill-mounted low disturbance soil loosening implement, which can also be used to combine the benefits of soil loosening and the increased accuracy of a drill when establishing oilseed rape. RapidLift is also available in fully mounted format (RLM) with a rear towing hitch to

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AF Apr p61 62 Precision 2 variable rate TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:45 Page 2

PRECISION FARMING MACHINERY allow for towing implements such as a cultivator or drill. The RLM remains at a fixed height on the rear linkage and rear hitch and the low disturbance loosening legs raise and lower independently, therefore not affecting the height of the following implement. Soyl agricultural development manager David Whattoff says: “We entered discussions with Cultivating Solutions which was already working on low disturbance cultivations systems and it became clear managing director Richard Scholes could see the potential for reduced depth cultivations, directed by application maps generated by Soyl. Mr Scholes says: “Cultivating Solutions and Soyl have a number of mutual customers who are progressive farmers looking to increase efficiency through a high level of precision. After variable rate fertiliser and seeding, increasing the precision of cultivations is a logical step. Black-grass control “An area of particular interest is black-grass control. Avoiding mixing the layers of soil helps to keep black-grass seeds on the surface where they will germinate for easier control, and this is effectively achieved by less aggressive loosening.” Reducing horsepower and the fuel consumption required to move the machine across the field is another benefit. “Low disturbance soil loosening legs cut fuel costs in any case and this effect will be enhanced by only working deep where it is needed.” The design of the implements already allowed the operator to alter the working depth of the loosening leg from the tractor cab via a hydraulic parallelogram on the frame, and it was easily automated, suggests Mr Scholes. He adds: “Soil loosening legs


An in-cab controller works with the SOYL-Opti precision farming tool to activate the Autodepth control unit which uses a potentiometer to measure the angle of the discs or tines and lift or lower the cultivating elements as required.

can be set to any position from being completely out of work to up to 300mm working depth, so we can set maximum and minimum parameters to suit the conditions and requirements of the user.” The depth control unit now uses a potentiometer rather than an acoustic sensor to measure the angle of the discs or tines but otherwise the changeover has been seamless, says Mr Whattoff. Soyl has invested in UAV (drone) technology which can map weeds for treatment and can subsequently be used to assess the effect of the operation. Soyl customers access their compaction, soil texture and weed population maps via the company’s website portal MySOYL and can generate cultivation plans used to control the implement. “It will be possible to fine tune the maps to suit farmers’ needs, and they can also ‘nudge’ cultivation depth from the cab should a wet patch of field be encountered for example,” says Mr Whattoff.


SOYL developed technology to adjust working depth soil loosening legs on a cultivator according to compaction maps produced by its mapping service.

“We have launched Titan Power Drive and RapidLift machines with the variable rate control unit as pre-production models at Lamma 2014 and will continue with development work this year,” says Mr Scholes. The control unit can also be retrofitted to existing RapidLift and Titan machines, and will

be offered as an option on new implements. “We expect the greatest uptake to be on the Rapid Lift and believe there is great potential to increase margins particularly for oilseed rape. It’s a good opportunity for SOYL customers to get even more out of their maps for a comparatively small investment.”

AF Apr p63 Metaldyhyde TR EP_Layout 1 14/03/2014 11:58 Page 1


Zero metaldehyde pilot catchments scheme underway n industry-wide approach to exploring more stringent measures on use of slug pellet active ingredient metaldehyde is underway, with two pilot water catchment areas launched in Hertfordshire and Warwickshire. The initiative will assess whether field-by-field targeting within ‘high risk’ catchments could be the answer to tackling the issue of metaldehyde detections in raw water which is subsequently abstracted for drinking water, as well as securing the continuing availability of metaldehyde-based slug pellets.


Alternative Maps of each catchment will identify individual fields where, with the agreement of participating farmers, no metaldehyde will be applied. Where slug control is required within the identified fields, farmers and agronomists will be encouraged to choose an alternative active ingredient. With the recent announcement that methiocarb is to be with-

Pilot catchments rAvon and Leam, Warwickshire – 280 farmers identified as having ‘high risk’ fields rMimmshall Brook, Hertfordshire – eight-10 farmers identified as having high-risk fields rAdditional pilot catchments planned in Anglian Water region and Thames Water region for 2014

Hertfordshire grower Alistair White is participating in the Mimmshall Brook zero metaldehyde initiative.

drawn from use from September 2015, in practice the only alternative is ferric phosphate. The pilot areas are the Avon and Leam catchment in Warwickshire and the Mimmshall Brook catchment in Hertfordshire. Two further pilot catchments in the Anglian Water and Thames Water regions are also planned for launch ahead of the main 2014 autumn pelleting season. Commenting on the Hertfordshire and Warwickshire pilot schemes, Alister Leggatt, catchment officer for Affinity Water, one of five water companies involved in the project, says both are on heavy, clay loam soils subject to underdrainage and surface run-off and both have experienced failures in terms of metaldehyde exceedances. Initial meetings have been

held with farmers in both catchments to discuss the zero metaldehyde approach and there has been a positive response, says Mr Leggatt. Working groups have been established involving local farmers and agronomists to review and agree catchment maps and ‘high risk’ fields. Catchment maps Initial catchment maps used have been produced using soil run off, slope of field and distance to watercourse information to generate an overall field risk score. Severn Trent Water senior catchment planner Dr Jodie Whitehead, says: “We were able to create maps that a high risk score could be assigned to and which would identify the highest risk land, without consigning a very high pro-

portion to the zero metaldehyde restriction.” In the Avon and Leam catchment 185 hectares – 14% of the catchment area – have been designated ‘high risk’. Potter’s Bar-based farmer and contractor Alistair White farms 450 hectares on predominantly heavy clay soils within the Mimmshall Brook catchment. About 65% of his arable land falls within the zero metaldehyde area identified in the catchment map. While metaldehyde pellets are his preferred choice, he says he is prepared to change his approach to treatment in order to help retain the active ingredient. With a wheat/oilseed rape rotation he is concerned the loss of metaldehyde could threaten the future viability of oilseed rape on his farm.



AF Apr p64 Basis New TR EP_Layout 1 12/03/2014 14:47 Page 1


BASIS news

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

Nutrient management course celebrates 2,000th graduate JMore than 2,000 FACTS Qualified Advisers (FQAs) have successfully completed the nutrient management planning (NMP) course together with the online assessment which is required to retain FQA status. BASIS has recorded a huge increase in NMP course bookings, with only eight months left for many FQAs to complete the course. There remain about 700 FQAs (25%) who have yet to take the course and risk losing their FQA status if they do not meet the December 31, 2014 deadline. James Clark, an agronomist for Cropwise, part of the Hutchinsons group, was the 2,000th NMP course graduate and explains why the training was so useful. He says: “Working in Cumbria and Dumfries means most of the customers I advise have mixed farms. It is important for me to have a good understanding of crop nutrient require-

The knowledge gained through BASIS has been vital Jim Clark

ments, which of these nutrients are in the manures, and which are available to the crop. “Some of these farms are also in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones [NVZs], so having an up-todate understanding of the regulations means I can help my customers stay within the rules while getting the best from their manures. The NMP course training was invaluable, particularly on NVZ rule changes. Learning about greenhouse gases, erosion and the effects on water quality was also useful, as much of my work is in high rainfall areas and I advise on soil structure,

Jim Clark of Hutchinsons is the 2,000th BASIS nutrient management planning graduate.

compaction and how to avoid soil erosion.” Mr Clark has been a FACTS advisor for 12 years and also holds the BASIS certificate in crop protection, biodiversity and environmental training for advisers (BETA) and soil and water management certificates,

alongside the nutrient management planning certificate. His continued training and suite of BASIS qualifications means he is well placed to advise his customers on a broad range of issues. “The knowledge gained through BASIS has been vital. Without it I would have been unable to join a company such as Hutchinsons, or have the ability to give sound advice, and I’m not just talking about fertilisers. The high rainfall combined with mild temperatures experienced in my region means even in the spring and summer months I often see very high disease pressure. A good plant growth regulator programme is essential as high fertility can lead to lodging. “I’m delighted to be the 2,000th FQA to complete the NMP course and I would urge anyone who has not got round to taking the course yet, to make sure they do so before the December deadline.”

NMP - what you need to know PASSING the NMP course is essential for all FQAs if they wish to retain their FQA status. Here are the options, depending on when you passed your FACTS exam: rQualified prior to December 31, 2009 – you must complete the NMP course by December 31, 2014 or you will lose your



FQA status rQualified from January 1, 2010 onwards – you have five years from the date you qualified to complete the NMP course and retain your FQA status rDates for courses can be found on the events page of the BASIS website www.basis-reg.co.uk

NMP course components The nutrient management course covers: rAchieving crop nitrogen utilisation efficiency rManaging farm phosphorus rTechniques for in-field nutrient management rEfficient use of manures and other organic materials

rIntegration of nutrient management decisions with environmental regulations and policies, including nutrient planning and record keeping rFertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme (FIAS) and farm security

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Arable Farming April 2014  

Arable Farming April 2014