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Issue 53 | Autumn 2019


Laura Buckingham, Arable Inputs Manager

Laura Buckingham, Arable Inputs Manager The 2013 ban on for Fram Farmers and a BASIS-qualified agronomist, together with scientist Dr Alan neonicotinoid seed Dewar, who has over 40 years’ experience in agricultural entomological research and runs treatments has been Dewar Crop Protection, offer their thoughts. disastrous for some “Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB) (Psylliodes chrysocephala) wasn’t a major pest in oilseed farmers, so what can rape (OSR) when neonicotinoid16:25 seed treatments 10598_Farmers Magazine Band_185x50mm_START_HR.pdf 1 13/08/2019 (NSTs) were available but banning them be done to alleviate represented a watershed moment, which has added to farmers’ challenges,” Laura states. its effects?

neonicotinoids has been polarised. Whether or not they significantly affect bees depends on which trials/statistics you believe, but many farmers have given up growing OSR. We have even heard of crops that contained so many CSFB before harvest that they could literally be heard, and the damage was so severe that desiccation was not required. “In the Eastern Counties OSR plantings could be 20% down this year. Breeders and ag-chem manufacturers are working hard to find solutions and some, such as BASF, KWS and RAGT,

“The debate/scientific research surrounding

 Continued on page 5

Getting the best

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BATTLING BLACK-GRASS TOGETHER ONE STEP AT A TIME When it comes to black-grass, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet. Achieving the magic 97% control rate required to fully master the problem weed needs a comprehensive action plan that includes cultural and chemical controls. pre-emergence spray is now an essential part of the herbicide programme. Crystal® has been found to give the best start to black-grass control, providing the crucial flufenacet active, as well as pendimethalin. In 4 trials from 2017/18 season, Crystal® was giving a 10% uplift in control over Liberator®. Where there is adequate drainage, Crystal® can be applied pre-emergence to crops drilled up until the end of November, making it the perfect partner for delayed drilling strategies.

Even though integrated weed management is nothing new to agronomists, controlling the weed can still be unpredictable. Poor weather, herbicide resistance or lack of attention to detail can derail the most effective plan of action. This is why BASF has been interviewing growers and agronomists about their journey towards 97% control. In the video series, that can be found on its social channels and its Real Results website, BASF is sharing real world stories about what it takes to get black-grass control right, and how setbacks can happen to anyone. The most common advice from agronomist and grower teams who feel they are winning their battle against black-grass is delay drilling and the use of spring cropping. This is reflected in a recent survey conducted by BASF where growers were asked what they believed the most important cultural control method was, with 30% stating it was delayed drilling and another 30% stating spring cropping. Other advice is also discussed in the video series “The importance of rouging and attention to detail at harvest time, to stop the unnecessary spread of seed’’. The advice received from scientific experts, agronomists and growers inspired the ‘Ten Stops to Black-grass Control’, an-easy-to-digest guide that gives chronological advice on what controls to utilise at different stages throughout the year. The interactive blog, which can be found on the Real Results website, explores practical and scientific advice, giving honest accounts of what can go wrong, and how to achieve optimum success.

Cereal Herbicide campaign manager at BASF, Ali Richards said: “We’re incredibly proud of the chemistry we have available, Crystal® is one of the top performing herbicides on the market and has been for 15 years. But we know there’s more to it than that, so want to use our resources and community to help share real world stories from growers and their agronomists about the methods that are getting the best results for them. We want to make sure that the industry can maximise the performance of products like Crystal®, by advocating sustainable best practice.” This autumn BASF is encouraging Crystal® users to get the best out of the herbicide, by making a plan that includes cultural and chemical controls by following five easy tips: 1. Utilise as many cultural techniques as possible e.g. stale seedbeds, delayed drilling, competitive seed rates and crops, etc. 2. Build a strong herbicide programme based on low resistance risk, soil acting residual chemistry. 3. Pre-emergence applications of Crystal® provide the best start for grassweed control, delivering a robust flufenacet base and the strongest residual partner, pendimethalin. 4. Spray within 48 hours of drilling ideally on to moist, clod-free and consolidated seedbeds. Do not disturb the soil after application. 5. With black-grass infestations spreading and control from post-emergence herbicides reducing as a result of increased resistance, the

For more information about Crystal® go to www.agricentre.basf.co.uk/Crystal. For further information or any queries on BASF products, please do not hesitate to contact your local BASF Agronomy Manager Matthew Keane on 07901 611115 and Matt will be delighted to help you.


have implemented programmes to help growers mitigate some of the risks. The worry is how other outdoor grown crops will be affected by the extension of the neonicotinoid ban.”

“In the Eastern Counties OSR plantings could be 20% down this year” NO WAY BACK

Dr Alan Dewar believes legislators have thrown the baby out with the bath water based on very controversial research, used selectively. He states: “2014 was the first season that neonicotinoids could not be used in OSR and since then there have been annual CSFB epidemics. Now the crop’s most important pest, it continues to cause serious damage to emerging seedlings each autumn, with escalating crop losses. Now no grower can ignore it.

Growers in other parts of the country are now suffering from spreading infestations, with serious losses reported from Hampshire/ Wiltshire to Scotland. The consequence of less OSR will be far fewer flowers for honeybees to forage on in spring. Beekeepers will provide supplementary feed, but how will wild bees manage?


NSTs, either clothianidin+beta-cyfluthrin (Poncho Beta/Bayer) or thiamethoxam+tefluthrin (Cruiser Force/Syngenta), were used on most UK sugar beet crops prior to the extended ban, giving excellent control of aphid vectors of virus yellows.

Extensive resistance to the alternative pyrethroids in CSFB hot spots has limited their effectiveness and, with no other insecticides giving decent control, there are likely to be serious problems. In 2018, OSR yields declined by 20% in Bedfordshire, 19% in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and 17% in Cambridgeshire.

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In 2017 Science magazine published a paper ‘Country specific effects of neonicotinoids pesticides on honeybees and wild bees' in which the researchers stated: ‘These field results confirm that neonicotinoids negatively affect pollinator health under realistic agricultural conditions’. This fuelled a raft of scaremongering headlines and politicians went along with it. Michael Gove, the then Environment Secretary, was quoted as saying ‘the evidence points in one direction – we must ban neonicotinoids’. No, it didn’t. Much of the work was laboratory not field based and beekeepers I know never saw any detrimental effects from NSTs.


Thursday 30th January 2020 - 7pm EAST SUFFOLK PIE & PINT Buck Inn The Street, Flixton Buck, Bungay, SUFFOLK NR35 1NZ Tuesday 25th February 2020 - 7pm Dates and venues to come GLOUCESTERSHIRE Late January 2020 Virus yellows in sugar beet

In 2005 trials at Broom’s Barn we inoculated 2% of sugar beet plants with virus-infected aphids. In untreated plots the infection level reached 45% by August, whereas treated plots stayed greener for much longer, yields were up to 50% higher and the sugar content was greater.

WILTSHIRE Late January 2020 Virus yellows has been very well controlled using NSTs, but the disease has not gone away and there aren’t many alternatives. The main virus yellows vector, Myzus persicae, is now almost resistant to pyrethroids, so without NSTs growers are totally exposed to aphid and virus pressures. Currently, only Teppeki (flonicamid / Belchim) is fully approved for aphid control in sugar beet. In 2019, Biscaya (thiacloprid/Bayer) received emergency approval for the crop. New insecticides are urgently needed. The full consequences of the neonicotinoid ban have yet to become evident. The industry might get away with it this year, but I believe the biology is telling a different story and yield losses could be very serious.


The last Pesticide Usage Survey in 2016 showed that 22% of winter barley and 37% of winter wheat crops were treated with clothianidin (Deter). September 2018 was the last date that treated seed could be sold and December 2018 the last time it could be sown. The percentage of treated seed sold last year increased substantially to around 50%, but data is not yet available. Untreated OSR (left), versus Cruiser-treated

 Continued on page 7


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The withdrawal of Deter will put wheat crops under great pressure. One of the unintended consequences will be that pyrethroid use will at least double. This will increase the selection pressures on aphids, especially the grain aphid (Sitobion avenae), which has some resistance to pyrethroids.

Lack of funding has curtailed research into this subject, but with pyrethroid use set to increase massively and farmers wanting more information this seems like a huge oversight. There are no effective alternative seed treatments to neonicotinoids and optimising the use of the diminishing armoury of spray-applied pesticides will require the reintroduction of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies which have been ignored for decades. However, these will be more time consuming and expensive, using techniques such as suction/water traps and field scouting, together with modern enzyme-linked immunosorbent (ELISA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCA) diagnostics. To help counter aphid pests, encouraging ladybirds, lacewings and particularly hoverflies is a good starting point. My own experience is that the more flowers there are on a farm the more difficult it is to establish BYDV trials, because there are far fewer aphids!

An example of a BYDV affected crop caused by grain aphids

With the bird cherry aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi) more abundant in the autumn, the grain aphid has been overshadowed. However, BYDV epidemics associated with grain aphids are occurring more often. In a trial I conducted during 2016 substantial damage was caused by grain aphids not killed by pyrethroids, even when sprayed twice.


The objectives of the green lobby in orchestrating a ban on very effective insecticides was to benefit Bees, but unfortunately this may not happen. Products that were applied in a relatively safe ecological manner as seed treatments have been and will continue to be replaced by other pesticides applied as sprays.

“There are no effective alternative seed treatments to neonicotinoids” There are likely to be huge ecological consequences: increased use of cheap pyrethroids, causing unknown ecological effects; increasing resistance and pest problems, as with CSFB; major changes in the area of crops grown, like the decline of OSR in the eastern counties. Have bees benefitted? I think not, but almost certainly other creatures in the agricultural ecosystem will suffer. Will politicians care? I think not. Carabids, staphylinids, spiders et al, do not have the same political clout as bees. Will the green lobby care? I think not. They have ticked that box and moved onto the next target.”

To reduce the impact of CSFB without using insecticides growers should: • Lengthen rotations • Sow as early as possible • Increase seed rate • Remove flushes of volunteers • Provide a trap crop around the main crop • Grow blocks of OSR further apart


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“Fram Farmers' crop marketing pools have performed very well for us over the years,” Suffolk farmer Peter Maddever states. “Apart from their excellent financial performance, one of the key attractions for us is that all transactions are credit insured, so we have the assurance of guaranteed payment for what we deliver. That is a very important consideration given that several grain merchants and marketing cooperatives have gone under over the years, leaving farmers out of pocket.” The Maddever family has been at Scotts Farm, Cavendish since 1963, and Peter and Julia’s son Richard joined the family partnership in 2015 after a 15-year career in aviation. Having taken his first flying lesson aged 14, Richard qualified

Malted barley

as a helicopter pilot and took his first solo flight on his 16th birthday, then went on to fly them professionally inspecting gas pipelines.

“Fram Farmers have some very good local outlets for combinable crops” Since Richard came home, the partnership has made significant investments in the business, and the farmed area has increased from 1,000 acres to 2,700 acres through various arrangements with four customers. Mainly heavy land, it is all in one block which the father-and-son team operate themselves, with additional help at key times. Whilst actively pursuing more area to farm, they adopt a very pragmatic approach and will only take on land which they can manage comfortably and is close-by to ensure that labour and machinery are utilised efficiently. Having given up oilseed rape due to the loss of agrochemicals, inconsistent yields and increasing problems with blackgrass, especially in areas affected by pigeon damage, the Maddevers now follow a relatively simple rotation, with 50% winter and 50% spring cropping in whatever combination best fits the rotation. They grow Group 3 and 4 winter wheat, all first wheats and mostly the Group 3 soft biscuit varieties KWS Barrel and KWS Basset which average 9-9.5 t/ha, together with winter barley, Propino (Syngenta) and Planet

(RGT) spring malting barley, plus winter beans and sugar beet as break crops.


Prior to 2015, the Maddevers relied heavily on a central facility for longer-term storage of their combinable crops, with older buildings on the farm being used to meet short-term requirements. In 2015, they invested in new purpose-built storage incorporating the latest technology, such as on-floor drying, grain stirrers, automatic fans, electrically controlled vents and remote temperature monitors. An array of roof-mounted PV solar panels generates all the electricity required and an Austrian-made Froling 199kW biomass boiler supplies all the heat, including that for the workshop and farmhouse. Incorporating a weighbridge, the new facility allows grain to be kept clean and safe in ideal conditions for as long as required. Everything that is produced on their own farm, and those of four customers, can now be stored on farm and despite the significant investment it is much more cost-effective and puts them in control. Some 7,000 tonnes from this year’s harvest will be stored, and next season, when less maize and sugar beet will be produced, this will rise to 10,000 tonnes, as probably will Richard’s stress levels because it represents a huge responsibility.


Forms to participate in Fram Farmers’ crop marketing pools will be sent out to members shortly by email. If you are not already registered, and would like paper forms, please email Thomas.Coulter@framfarmers.co.uk


Peter (left) and Richard Maddever in a crop of spring barley just prior to harvest. Like most of their other combinable crops it is destined to be marketed through Fram Farmers' pools.


Outlining the partnership’s involvement with Fram Farmers, Peter Maddever states: “My father joined the cooperative shortly after it was formed in 1960, and we continue to buy virtually everything needed to operate the farm through it. “We have used the Marketing Department for many years, and the pools for 10 years, but have significantly increased our commitment since 2015. We like to market combinable crops through the Fram Farmers pools because we know that their team of professionals is constantly working to achieve the best prices

on our behalf. The pools also provide a facility to take advance payments against committed grain, although we have not used it ourselves. “Fram Farmers have some very good local outlets for combinable crops, which is very important. Malting barley is a core crop and we average 7 – 8 t/ha, all of which goes through the Fram Farmers pools, mostly to local customers, such as Bairds Malt at Witham, Boortmalt in Bury St Edmunds or Muntons at Stowmarket. Last year, our malting barley was very low in nitrogen and all the Planet sold at £230 per tonne through Fram Farmers, which was very pleasing.”


The Maddevers’ approach is to operate relatively few, but large and wellmaintained, pieces of machinery, which currently include a 360hp Caterpillar Challenger MT765B, 234hp Fendt 724 Vario and Sands Horizon self-propelled sprayer with 30m booms. The system is based around low-disturbance drilling for reasons of timeliness, economics and foresight of what might lie ahead for the farming sector. The business also operates two 44-tonne lorries which are constantly moving various farm crops and inputs in an area north of the M25 and throughout East Anglia, including a significant tonnage for Fram Farmers members.

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LEADING MACHINERY HIRE FIRM ASHBROOK PROVIDES A FIRST CLASS, NATIONAL SERVICE ASHBROOK are renowned for understanding their customers’ requirements and providing reliable, efficient, high specification machinery. James Ashbrook, Managing Director of ASHBROOK, which has depots at Amlwch, Anglesey; Bangor, North Wales; Congleton, Cheshire and Warrington, describes how that has been achieved. “We are an honest, reliable business; our rates are fair, transport arrangements are flexible and our service is second to none. We are a familyrun operation which combines a professional approach with the latest machinery and a personal touch, so customers receive exactly the equipment and service they need. This has enabled us to become the preferred hire supplier to a wide range of businesses – from individual farming operations to blue chip companies. “Our Directors have active roles, so decision making is quick, definitive and aligned with our customers' needs. We have a very flexible approach but won’t compromise on our commitment to offering the best prices and service. Operating our own lorries and low-loaders means we can guarantee that equipment will be delivered quickly, reliably and on time.” The Ashbrook family have farmed in North Cheshire since 1752. James’ father milked cows while he helped at night and on weekends. That instilled in James a strong work ethic and is a key reason why he has taken ASHBROOK from nothing to the leading company in the hire sector today. It started in 1999 when James began using one of his father’s tractors to contract for local farmers. By 2001 he had purchased his own New Holland TM135 and was soon employing other farmers’ sons in a small contracting/groundworks business. Subsequently, the business has grown

James Ashbrook pictured (left) with Richard Anscombe, Chief Executive, Fram Famers, at the cooperative’s 2019 Trials Day

through organic expansion and acquisitions. When well-known national plant hire company Hewden collapsed in 2016, ASHBROOK acquired two depots (Bangor and Warrington), together with all assets and employees which meant ASHBROOK were better placed strategically to serve their customers, old and new, more efficiently than ever.

CUSTOMER FOCUSED “We understand the importance of team-work and high-standard employees,” James states. “We have over 3,000 machines and items of equipment, from 100 - 340hp tractors and agricultural equipment, to excavators, diggers, dumpers and telescopic handlers, to access equipment. “Only best-in-class machines are selected, while extended warranties and manufacturer service plans are purchased (where applicable)

to maximise uptime and reliability. We can also source tractors and machinery to meet specific customer requirements. “We run our fleet to approximately three years old to keep abreast of the latest technology and innovation. Telematics provide the ability to view machine/fuel efficiency data and diagnose a potential issue before the machine breaks down. In the unlikely event that this happens, breakdowns are dealt with quickly and efficiently. All machines go through a pre-delivery inspection before being sent out and an off-hire inspection is completed at the end of each hire. “Our tractor range currently includes the full line-up from Case IH to John Deere to Valtra. We supply a wide range of farm equipment, including but not limited to: • JCB and Manitou Agri-Spec Telehandlers • 14t, 16t & 18t Root/Grain/Silage and Flat 20ft – 32ft Trailers • 2,500 and 3,000gallon Vacuum Tankers • Rear-discharge Spreaders • Flat Lift Subsoilers • Sward Lifters • Power Harrows and Rotavators. • Tandem-axle Low Loader Trailers. “Being from a farming family we understand what farmers require and guarantee that we will deliver on our promises.” Further details from Gordon Cummings or Tom Mountain at Fram Farmers on 01728 727719 or visit www.ASHBROOK.Ltd



feedback or suggestions that members might have to assist us in that process. Hiring has become much more versatile in recent years and the range of equipment much more comprehensive. Reflecting the important role which this approach now fulfils within many farming businesses, the specification of hire equipment has increased dramatically over the years. For example, most tractors are either brand new or nearly new and come very well equipped to maximise their resale value. Order early and you can specify the exact machine and specification you require. The increasing volume of hire business which members now put through the cooperative means that we can negotiate very favourable rates. Longer term contract hire dramatically brings down the price and as an example, a 165hp-200hp Case Puma, with full 50kph gearbox and guidance ready can be hired from £220 per week on a 24-month contract. Remember this includes all servicing costs and a replacement should anything go wrong.

Andy Whiley of Case IH, together with dealer Doe Power, recently held a combine training session in the Fram Farmers car park. We hope he also pointed out the significant savings available on Case IH purchases through our cooperative!

Hiring machinery only for the period when it will be required, rather than having a costly asset standing idle for much of the year, makes sound financial sense. Whilst not for everybody, it’s an approach which is increasingly favoured by farming businesses who understand the significant benefits, says Gordon Cummings, Fram Farmers’ Machinery Strategic Partnership Manager. Gordon Cummings, Fram Farmers

The increasing trend amongst our members to utilise short- and long-term (contract) hire has been recognised by the machinery team at Fram Farmers, who have put together an excellent portfolio of suppliers under the umbrella of FRAM HIRE, a one-stop shop for everything that involves hire. We can now arrange for you to hire anything your business might need, from combines, tractors, telehandlers, trailers, balers and cultivation equipment, to compressors, plant machinery and even portaloos!

As part of this new service we are delighted to welcome ASHBROOK as a key supplier of hire equipment. Being a farmer’s son James Ashbrook knows exactly the pressures which farmers face and what they require. His own farming operation, Hudson Farm Partners, is a member of our cooperative, so he understands first-hand the benefits which membership provides. Another of our existing agricultural equipment hire suppliers, F. G. Rowland Ltd, is well known to members and has a fleet of over 300 John Deere tractors, together with telehandlers and machinery. Through Fram Hire you can now source a huge range of hire equipment. We also now have partnerships with Philip Liverton, Mervyn Lambert, Ardent Hire, HSS and A Plant, to name just a few. We are continually looking to expand the range and reach of our hire service to all regions and would welcome any

We often come across members who hire direct from dealers and put the invoices through their Fram Farmers account, but the rates they pay are much higher than by hiring directly through the cooperative. Before entering into a hire agreement let us quote, because it could save you money. The peak time for ordering hire machines is from November to April and that’s when farmers who regularly hire place their orders for the season ahead. My advice is to plan well ahead so we can best help you.

CASE IH PUMA 165 - 200 (180-220hp), with full 50kph gearbox and guidance

from £220 PER WEEK on a 24-month contract. Longer term contract hire dramatically brings down the price as this example shows. Remember this includes all servicing costs and a replacement should anything go wrong.

Further details from Gordon Cummings or Tom Mountain at Fram Farmers on 01728 727700



Fram Farmers’ 2019 Trials Day was a record-breaker, with 317 farmers plus agronomists and suppliers’ representatives attending. They came from all over East Anglia and beyond, to the event which, for the second successive year, was held at R. H. Forrest’s Mowness Hall, Stonham Aspal, in Suffolk, an excellent venue which enabled visitors and exhibitors to get the most out of their day. A Fram Farmers member for over 40 years, host James Forrest farms over 4,000 acres of owned, rented and contracted land.

“Last year’s Trials Day was very successful and this one even surpassed that, so from our point of view it was very worthwhile” The Trials Day has grown in popularity and become much more comprehensive since it was first held in 2015. This year’s event was in collaboration with BASF, a leading manufacturer of crop protection products, seed specialists Walnes Seeds, together with independent agronomy providers Apex Agronomy and Prime Agriculture.

Visitors had an excellent opportunity to compare 32 varieties of winter wheat growing side by side, providing a valuable insight into their individual attributes. The event also enabled them to see some of the latest farm equipment in the dedicated machinery section and drive a selection of new vehicles and cars provided by Tyson Cooper, our vehicle sourcing partner, in a separate test area. The Arable Inputs Team, Electricity Specialists and Fram Farmers Insurance, the cooperative’s specialist insurance business, were also on hand to provide expert advice, along with representatives from key suppliers who were exhibiting. Instead of paying to attend, exhibitors were asked to donate to one of four charities which Fram Farmers supports. This raised in excess of £3,000 for The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), You Are Not Alone (YANA), East Anglian Air Ambulance and farm safety foundation Yellow Wellies. “Last year’s Trials Day was very successful and this one even surpassed that, so from our point of view it was very worthwhile,” Matthew Keane,

Some of the 300-plus visitors to the Fram Farmers Trials Day study the winter wheat plots at Mowness Hall.


Gordon Cummings, Fram Farmers’ Machinery Partnership Manager (left) with Simon Cooper of Tyson Cooper, the cooperative’s vehicle sourcing partner.

BASF’s Agronomy Manager in Suffolk, stated. BASF used the event to demonstrate the impact of different types of chemistry, through targeted trial plots, which highlighted the activity of Plant Growth Regulators (PGR) and the efficacy of various fungicides, including its innovative Isopropanole-azole product, Revysol®.

The Fram Farmers Trials Day was very well supported by suppliers and included a wide range of trade stands.

Pictured left to right: Carl Atkin (Terravost), Andrew Cooper (Walnes Seeds), Dr Dan Poulter MP, Richard Anscombe and James Forrest.

NEW PANELS POPULAR A new attraction this year were the two panel discussions, ‘Life After Brexit’ and ‘Life After Neonicotinoids’, which proved very popular at a time when farmers face numerous

Richard Anscombe added: “I am delighted with the response and feedback from visitors to our 2019 Trials Day. Its success reflected the enormous amount of hard work that my team of professionals invest into what has become a very popular event in the annual farming calendar for existing and prospective members in East Anglia.”

The Fram Farmers Trials Day was very well supported by suppliers and included a wide range of trade stands.

challenges. The morning panel, chaired by Richard Anscombe, Chief Executive of Fram Farmers, included Carl Atkin of international agribusiness management and consultancy provider Terravost and Dr Dan Poulter, Member of Parliament for Central

Suffolk and North Ipswich. The afternoon panel, chaired by agronomist John Clarke, consisted of Dr Alan Dewar of Dewar Crop Protection and Andrew Williams, a Director of Fram Farmers and member, Home Farm Nacton in Suffolk.




6% better black-grass control Why

is worth having this autumn.

Black-grass is an annual challenge and a long-term one too. Small increases in control can have big rewards. 95.5% control can keep populations stable, but an integrated weed management programme that reaches 97% control can reduce populations by over 30% in a year*1. Bayer’s Liberator is proven to deliver 6%*2 more black-grass control at pre-em. than non-Bayer formulated flufenacet and diflufenican products, which makes it the smart choice to begin reaching the very best control levels you can this season. Small steps today, big rewards tomorrow. Autumn


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*1 Based on 1,000 seeds in the seedbank and 20 seeds / plant / year (A&AF Black-grass special, June 2018). *2 14 independent replicated trials (2016 - 2018), average population in untreated = 201 heads/m 2. Liberator contains flufenacet and diflufenican. Atlantis OD contains mesosulfuron and iodosulfuron. Monolith contains mesosulfuron and propoxycarbazone. Liberator, Atlantis and Monolith are registered Trade Marks 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, including contact details, visit www.cropscience.bayer.co.uk or call 0808 1969522. Š Bayer CropScience Limited 2019


PROTECTING FUEL AND MACHINERY TO KEEP FARMS MOVING Autumn can be one of the most demanding times of year for farm machinery. With ploughing and drilling on the horizon, keeping farm vehicles and equipment maintained is key to maximising productivity during land preparation. Machinery maintenance shouldn’t end once autumn comes to a close. It’s vital to prepare equipment and fuel stocks for winter, when colder weather can cause serious disruption in the longer-term. So, what measures can farmers take to avoid downtime in the autumn and protect some of their most valuable assets in the run up to winter?

 COOL RUNNINGS Farming equipment must operate at peak performance throughout autumn land preparation. Using the right lubricant for your machinery helps to keep it running for longer by preventing component wear and tear. By keeping equipment protected with high quality lubricants, farmers can prolong equipment life, extend the windows between maintenance periods and unplanned downtime - so your machinery can be working as hard as you are. After a busy autumn, it’s important to make sure machinery is protected and lubricated when going into storage during the cold, wet, winter months. If left untreated, metal surfaces can become corroded and the resulting rust can affect the functionality of equipment. This can lead to costly repairs or replacement of expensive parts to get machinery up and running again. Anti-corrosive coatings can be applied to the exposed surfaces of engines and machinery to protect them in storage. The products can either be removed when no longer required, or left on to shield against damage caused by moist, salty or harsh weather conditions.


In colder temperatures, summer-grade fuels are at risk of forming wax crystals that can clog up fuel lines and damage filters. Adding Anti-Wax additive to your summer-grade fuel supply when temperatures are still above 6 °C inhibits the formation of wax crystals to improve diesel cold flow and handling properties. However, prevention is the only cure for waxing. Introducing Anti-Wax to fuel that is already waxed will not resolve the issue, so be sure to mix it into fuel stocks before the cold sets in - when your supply is clear and unclouded.


While most people know that one of the key benefits of using alternative fuels is a reduction in emissions, few are aware of the improved cold start properties offered by certain diesel alternatives such as Shell GTL Fuel. Shell GTL Fuel is a drop-in, cleaner-burning diesel alternative that - as well as reducing emissions of harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter (PM) from farming machinery - is able to meet the specifications for winter-grade fuels in Europe. The fuel’s low cloud and cold filter plugging points help to prevent waxing and keep fuel healthier for longer.


Fuel contamination issues caused by bacterial growth can be a concern for farmers when putting machinery away for the off-season. However, Shell GTL Fuel is FAME-free, which reduces the risk of microbial growth for enhanced storage stability. With a shelf life of up to five years, farmers can be confident that any Shell GTL Fuel left over in machinery from autumn will be good to go again when bringing equipment out of storage for next harvest. By taking precautionary maintenance measures, farmers can avoid costly repair work and have peace of mind that fuel stocks and equipment will be protected through autumn and the offseason. So that once March comes around, your farm will be ready to spring into action. Certas Energy is committed to helping the farming community with reliable fuel supply, storage and management solutions all year round. To find out how we can help your farm with winter preparation, please contact the Fram Farmers Fuel Team on 01728 727714 or visit www.certasenergy.co.uk/agriculture


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FRAM PIG GROUP – 20 YEARS ON AND STILL GOING STRONG The consensus from a couple of exploratory meetings held at the time was that the formation of a pig group could be feasible and hopefully help those in the industry to survive.

most main straights, thus incorporating a risk management strategy into their final feed costs. The book is managed by Fram Farmers, and operates to the instructions and targets set down and agreed by the members at their quarterly meetings. With medium-term feed manufacturing contracts in place they have the option of covering commodities 24 months in advance.

KNOWLEDGE AND CONTACTS Currently, two independent nutritionists provide ration and technical advice to the membership. Both have a wealth of knowledge and contacts throughout Europe, allowing the latest R & D to be embraced on members’ farms. Working with Crown Milling at Kenninghall for the last 20 years, they have built up partnership which ensures a competitive feed manufacturing cost, plus the reliable service and attention that goes with it. The Pig Group includes forward-thinking farmer members who have embraced the idea of seeing what competitors in other countries are doing, as well as viewing where some of their major commodities are produced. This has resulted in the Pig Group’s biannual study tours, which are open to all members and can involve trips anywhere in the world, from Holland to Australia.

The Fram Farmers Pig Group was formed in 1998 when pig producers were suffering from a crippling combination of high feed costs and low prices for their pigs.

Since those early days things have changed significantly and we now have a much slimmer pig industry with fewer, but larger players in the market. Cooperation is key to being able to compete with the large corporates and this approach has proven very successful over the last 10 years. Today’s Fram Farmers Pig Group consists of 12 members who between them purchase over 33,000 tonnes of pig food annually and produce most of their pigs on outdoor and indoor units in Norfolk and Suffolk.

vet-med group, which has also been hugely successful in reducing its members’ costs. As a group they have moved from making purchases on the day to pool purchasing of

Recently Fram Farmers entertained a group of Argentinian farmers who had travelled to the UK. Their two days in Suffolk included tours of a large-scale outdoor pig unit, arable and root crop farm, together with a day at the Suffolk Show. This has led to further contact with a co-operative in Argentina where we have been offered similar assistance. We will be travelling there in late November 2019 for our next study tour, when members will visit local farming cooperatives, arable and livestock farms, plus one of the world’s largest soya crushing facility.

So why does the Pig Group work so successfully? The day to day Co-ordination of the group is run by staff within Fram Farmers, managed by Gary Pleasance. They coordinate all meetings, keep accurate records of decisions made and act on decisions agreed by the group as and when appropriate. This allows those members who are in the group to concentrate their efforts on producing pigs.

FRANK DISCUSSIONS Members attend quarterly meetings where open and frank discussions take place about their current performance and any issues they may be experiencing. These discussions have led to the formation of projects such as the current

Gary Pleasance (right), who manages the Fram Farmers Pig Group, with farmers from Argentina at the 2019 Suffolk Show.

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ULTRA-EARLY MAIZE VARIETIES HELP EAST ANGLIAN DAIRY HERD OPTIMISE PRODUCTION AND QUALITY Lewis Partners in Norfolk rely on ultra-early maize to maximise milk output and produce consistent quality. They also benefit soil structure, reduce the workload and improve efficiency. Although the dairy herd has grown slightly, space constraints prohibit any significant increase. Instead, the emphasis is on increasing production and, through a careful breeding programme managed by long-serving herdsman Robert Warman, the average annual yield has increased by 10% to 10,500 litres/cow over the last decade.

“I’ve always regarded maize as a key constituent in producing high-quality milk”

the long-fibre grass element to complement the 12-14mm of the maize. Grass silage is produced using Horizon Seeds’ Triumph ClampFiller, a high-yielding two-year cutting ley which includes five types of Italian and hybrid ryegrasses including deep-rooting varieties to protect against drought. This also provides a close range of D value dates that allow precise planning of the first cut and boost water-soluble carbohydrate levels. 25 acres of Lucerne are also produced.

With milk going to specialist local dairy Marybelle for its milk, yoghurt and cream products, which are sold in the farm shop, the herd operates a year-round calving system to deliver a consistent supply. “I’ve always regarded maize as a key constituent in producing high-quality milk,” Tim states. “Much of the land is in a river valley, so rather than relying on marsh grass for the long-fibre part of the diet, we now cut it for hay. We still want grass to form a key part of a high-energy diet, so we grow 25 acres of short-term leys harvested by a forage wagon designed specifically for silage and feed it as part of a TMR (Total Mixed Ration) 365 days of the year.” Around 500 acres of grass are cut each year with a month between each cut. The lighter, more frequent cuts with a chop length of 34mm provide

Maize is established using an 8-row Nodet drill

BENEFITS OF EARLY VARIETIES With specialist advice from Lucy Smith-Reeve at Grainseed Ltd and agronomist Tom Rouse at Agrivice, Lewis Partners have moved towards early-maturing ‘Bred for Britain’ type maize varieties. The combination of ultra-early varieties Remington and Ballade delivers reliable high yields, the current analysis being 34.6% drymatter, 33.4% starch and 11.7 ME. “Our focus has been on varieties that we can harvest from September into October,” Tim explains. “This avoids any conflict with sugar beet lifting and minimises soil damage. Even during last year’s exceptionally dry conditions, maize produced very good results and we had enough home-grown forage to last until harvest.  Continued on page 20


 Continued from page 19 “Growing maize is all about attention to detail. Most of the land destined for the crop is cleaned up with glyphosate and we apply farmyard manure before ploughing. We have 25 acres of overwintered stubbles as part of our HLS commitment, where slurry is applied in the spring then worked in before maize is drilled, usually in May.” ‘OptiCoat+’, a zinc/manganese-based seed treatment developed by Grainseed, gets the crop established more quickly, gives early vigour and improves pollination. Stomp is applied preemergence, the crop receives an application of

Magphos K foliar feed, Calaris is used to control of a range of broad-leaved weeds and certain grasses, then Dow Shield® is applied postemergence.

FERTILISER PROGRAMME Fertiliser comprises DAP down the spout at drilling, followed by pre-emergence application of Double-Top (27N (30SO3), which combines Ammonium Sulphate and Ammonium Nitrate, then Nitram (34.5%N) is applied when the crop emerges, giving a total 150 kg/ha N. Harvesting maize starts during September once the dry matter reaches 29% -32%.

FARM FACTS HERD Dairy cows: 140 Holstein Friesians CROPS Arable crops 850 acres Two-year leys 118 acres Maize 100 acres MILK Supplied to Marybelle

“Maize can yield up to 20 tonnes per acre, but our typical average is 15 t/a because we don’t have an abstraction licence or the infrastructure to irrigate. We begin feeding maize after harvest. The milking group receives Maintenance+42, with a total daily fresh intake of 54.8kg, which includes 23.00kg of maize silage, 8kg of wet baled silage, 8kg of protein blend, 7kg of brewers’ grains, 4.5kg of lucerne and 2.8kg barley, plus minerals and vitamins. Tim (Centre) and his father Gerald Lewis (left) were recently joined by Tim’s son Josh (right), whilst Tim’s wife, Nathalie, is the driving force behind Marsh Larder, the on-farm café and shop run by the couple’s daughter Naomi and 12 part-time staff.

“It is impossible to over-state the importance of maize, and ultra-early varieties represent a significant step forward,” Tim concludes.

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Want the best establishment for your cereal crops this autumn? Take a look at Syngenta’s new S.T.A.R.T. five-point plan. Dr Jonathan Ronksley, Syngenta Field Technical Specialist



A key foundation to successful establishment is to understand the seed and soil-borne diseases that affect crop emergence, says Syngenta field technical specialist, Jonathan Ronksley. “For years, these have been kept at bay because fungicide seed treatments have been used,” says Dr Ronksley. “It is important to maintain this control. “Begin by re-familiarising yourself with these seed and soil-borne pathogens and their potential impact on the crop. Even if planting ‘clean’ tested seed, remember that several of these diseases can also attack from the soil.” The key diseases to consider are: • Microdochium seedling blight • Fusarium blight • Bunt • Septoria seedling blight • Ergot • Loose smut • Foot rot

“Vigorous crop establishment has taken on added significance,” emphasises Dr Ronksley, “because the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatment chemistry increases the argument for delaying drilling against aphids, and later-drilled crops need extra establishment help.”

“Once seed is in the drill, make sure no seed is released in transit to the field, and ensure drill vents are in the soil and the drill is moving forward before seed is released. Check also that treated seed is buried in order to protect wildlife, including in difficult parts of fields.”


TREATMENT – choose the

Next, assess the agronomic risks that could affect establishment in your particular fields.

A single purpose fungicide dressing is a highly cost-effective input that provides a foundation to maximise yield, says Dr Ronksley, but it is important to choose the right one for the job .

FACTORS – assess them

“Previous cropping can have a big impact,” says Dr Ronksley. “For example, growing wheat after maize increases Fusarium risk. Similarly, although not an establishment disease, second cereals are at greater Take-all risk. “Some soil types also bring challenges for establishment; for example light land is prone to drought. Although nothing can be done about soil type, choosing a seed treatment that helps rooting in order to scavenge for moisture, or that can help establishment over a range of conditions, is certainly something to consider. “Drilling date, meanwhile, affects speed of establishment, but it also influences pest, weed and disease pressures. For example, later drilling reduces BYDV risk and black-grass, but increases risks from Microdochium and bunt. Another big factor is the weather. Colder, wetter soils make plants more susceptible to seedling loss.”



The next step is to focus clearly on your crop establishment objectives, says Dr Ronksley.

Before making seed treatment decisions, remember best practice in handling them, says Dr Ronksley.


Objectives are for fast and even emergence, good plant stand and tillering, and excellent rooting and vigour, he says. Steps to achieve these include: • Produce a good seedbed • Achieve effective control of seed and soil-borne diseases • Achieve effective management of pests and weeds

A range of challenges can affect winter cereal establishment and root growth, particularly if drilling later


“Seed treatments are a highly targeted way of delivering a small amount of active ingredient precisely where it’s needed,” he explains. “However, they must still be used properly. “Always read and follow the label, and always wear the correct personal protective equipment. Also reduce dust risks, for example by avoiding filling hoppers from a height.

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“As an example, Beret Gold is a well-proven standard for protecting against seedling diseases and improving crop establishment. It is especially strong on Fusarium and Microdochium seedling blight. “Alternatively, for winter wheat seed, newgeneration seed treatment Vibrance Duo combines the proven active ingredient in Beret Gold with a specialist SDHI fungicide seed treatment – to provide additional disease activity, excellent crop establishment and added rooting benefits.” Upgrade to Vibrance Duo when delaying drilling, on light land and in second wheat situations.

Beret® Gold and Vibrance® Duo are Registered Trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. Beret Gold (MAPP No. 16430) contains fludioxonil. Vibrance Duo (MAPP No. 17838) contains sedaxane and fludioxonil. 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.syngenta.co.uk



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NEW DAIRY SETS THIS ORGANIC FARM UP FOR THE FUTURE Deciding to construct a new dairy was not one which the Grey Partnership in South Gloucestershire took lightly, but they are seeing the benefits.

pressures on farming it’s vital to negotiate the best deals, and individual farms simply don’t have the buying power to do that. “The Fram Farmers Building Materials Team really delivered on this project. It was so useful to discuss our requirements with impartial experts and have them negotiate the best deals on our behalf. It was very reassuring to know that the prices which Nick Millar (Fram Farmers Building Materials Buyer) sent me were the best available.

“The cows currently average 24 litres per day, 2 to 3 more than previously” “Most of our day-to-day requirements come through Fram Farmers, from fuel and electricity to cubicle bedding and veterinary medicines. They organised all the aggregates, concrete and stone for this project and numerous other items, such as water pipes, pressure pumps, underfloor heating for the office - even the connection to the National Grid. “We were at the limit of what we could do there,” Will Grey says of the patchwork of buildings in Tytherington that previously housed his family’s dairy herd. More suited to 80 cows than 120 Holsteins, they were replaced by a purpose-built complex in May 2019.

“We’ve been Fram Farmers members for over 40 years and find it very beneficial” Will worked in commercial roles before returning home in 2007 to farm in partnership with his parents, Tom and Sue, which was when they decided to change to an organic system. He states: “By 2016 it was apparent that a new cowshed and parlour were needed, which essentially meant completing 15 years’ worth of investment in twelve months. That

took some thinking about, although we did get EU grant funding for the robots! “We visited farms in Ireland that were operating grazing robot systems and learned that robots must be sited in the centre of the farm to minimise the distance that the cows have to walk, and encourage them to come in for milking. “In spring 2017 we ran some serious budgets and applied for planning permission in May, proposing that the new unit be sited in the centre of the farm 800 metres from the original site. Previously, our cows had to cross the main road twice a day, so the residents were very supportive! “We felt our acreage would support 200 cows, and based our calculations on three DeLaval robots, each handling 60 cows, plus 10% because of the lower yields from an organic system. We chose DeLaval because of their integration with the grazing - the only way cows can get to more grass after the initial grazing period is through the robots. “The 33m x 83m building has over 2,700m2 of floor area, with 50kW of solar panels on the roof to minimise electricity costs. The groundworks started in February 2018 and the first cows were milked 14 months later. “We’ve been Fram Farmers members for over 40 years and find it very beneficial. With the

“The cows currently average 24 litres per day, 2 to 3 more than previously. We’ve budgeted for a 15% yield improvement and hope to achieve 20%, plus health benefits for the cows and less work for us.”

FARM FACTS TOTAL AREA 450 Acres / 182 Hectares HERD Dairy cows: 160 expanding to 180 Beef cattle 140 PASTURE Permanent: 150 acres Red and white clover leys: 225 acres CROPS Organic maize 25 acres Organic barley 50 acres MILK Supplied to OMSCO

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Farmers First, Issue 53 - Autumn 2019