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Issue 43 – Spring 2017

CROP INPUTS Special Inside


Special Inside

MEMBER BENEFITS FROM ROWTRAC’S ADVANTAGES Home Farm Nacton in Suffolk has seen the value of the Magnum Rowtrac 380 CVX since purchasing one in 2016. Incorporating the Orwell Park Estate near Ipswich, Home Farm Nacton Ltd operates across 1,900ha of high quality agricultural land. With a wide range of soil types, from sandy loam to heavy clay, the business produces over 30 crops, both conventional and organic, including potatoes, onions, brassica vegetables, combinable crops and sugar beet. Most of the area can be worked all year round, so potentially planting and harvesting crops can take place every day of the year and the land is worked hard, but as the focus is on farming sustainably the soils’ status is enhanced by returning manures, compost and cover crops. When Home Farm Nacton decided to replace what was previously its largest tractor, a 340hp Massey Ferguson 8690, they wanted a more powerful model to achieve higher work rates on heavier land taken on recently. Historically, the business has operated tractors from a range of manufacturers, including Fendt, Deutz-Fahr, Massey Ferguson and New Holland, so no one brand was particularly the front-runner when it came to

The Magnum Rowtrac breaks up parsley root mass prior to ploughing, using a Pottinger disc/ tine cultivator.

replacement. In fact, it was an ‘outsider’ that caught their eye. Initial thoughts had turned to a twintrack Challenger and Case IH Quadtrac, but although both offered more power, Production Manager Jason Smith and Farms Director Andrew Williams decided that neither was quite right. Lighter and more flexible, the Magnum Rowtrac was deemed to provide the

ideal solution, after they had spent an afternoon with local dealer Doe Power’s demonstrator. Easy to operate, it pulled well and produced much less scuffing of the soil than a twin-track machine.” DAILY USE Last July, Home Farm Nacton purchased that very tractor, which had completed  Continued on page 5

GREAT PRICE TODAY, REBATE TOMORROW Only members of Fram Farmers qualify for our special rebate. Ask the Fram Farmers Machinery team on 01728 727719 or see us at the Red Power Day, 7 April.


Accounting for your success

Bury St Edmunds Greenwood House, Skyliner Way, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP32 7GY Telephone: (01284) 752313

We are an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers. Founded nearly 90-years ago to service the needs of East Anglia’s farming communities, today we offer traditional accountancy practice alongside many specialist and niche services to clients around the UK and overseas.

Ely George Court, Bartholomew’s Walk, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4JW Telephone: (01353) 662595

Services & Sectors: Agriculture Cloud Accounting Construction Corporate Finance & Tax Private Client Tax Property Investments Technology Wealth Management

Chatteris Suite L22, South Fens Business Centre Fenton Way, Chatteris, Cambs. PE16 6TT Telephone: (01354) 694111

Kings Lynn Norfolk House, Hamlin Way, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 4NG Telephone: (01553) 774745 March The Old School House, Dartford Road, March, Cambridgeshire, PE15 8AE Telephone: (01354) 652304 Mildenhall Willow House, 46 St. Andrews Street, Mildenhall, Suffolk, IP28 7HB Telephone: (01638) 712267 Peterborough Eco Innovation Centre, Peters Court, City Rd, Peterborough, Cambs, PE1 1SA Telephone: (01733) 564082 Ramsey 108 High Street, Ramsey, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE26 1BS Telephone: (01487) 812441 St Ives Unit 14, Raleigh House, Compass Point Business Park, St Ives. Cambridgeshire. PE27 5JL Telephone: (01480) 468931 Wisbech 12 & 13 The Crescent, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, PE13 1EH Telephone: (01945) 584113

Contact us to speak to a specialist and get a free initial consultation

CEO Comment 3

PLAN TO DIVERSIFY At this years’ Oxford Farming Conference, George Eustice MP hinted that future farm support will be directed more towards business innovation and job creation than the current CAP model. It’s clear that UK agriculture will eventually have to operate without subsidies, so start planning now. A report I read recently suggested that only 8% of farms would be profitable without subsidies, so positioning your business accordingly is essential. This is highlighted by one of our Directors, Wendy Houston, on Page 12. A key take-away from Oxford was the high regard that overseas buyers and consumers have for British products. The British brand represents premium quality, innovation, safety and high welfare, so let’s use that to our advantage. Tom Hind, Chief Strategy Officer at AHDB, highlighted the importance of opening your mind to new ideas, for example by attending overseas trade fairs to find out what customers want. You might be thinking ‘I grow wheat, barley and OSR – how can I benefit from looking up the value chain and beyond my home market’. That’s understandable, but be inspired by Jack Hamilton from Northern Ireland, whose family turned an idea into a thriving business, Mash Direct Ltd. This family-owned farming and food production enterprise was launched by Martin and Tracy Hamilton, who had been successfully growing and selling vegetables for 25 years but realised that without ‘adding value’ the future was uncertain. Martin’s idea was to produce Champ, a traditional Ulster dish made by blending scallions or green onions with creamy mashed potatoes, using vegetable varieties grown for taste not appearance, combined with traditional cooking and mashing processes to retain taste, texture, nutrition and flavour. That dream became a reality in 2004. To overcome perceptions of traditional convenience food being of inferior quality and less tasty, they set up roadshows so customers could try it for themselves. Secondly, they introduced it to buyers outside their normal geographic area. Despite securing outlets across Ireland and Scotland, supermarkets remained sceptical, and convincing them proved difficult. At an international trade fair the family discovered consumers in the United Arab Emirates ate something like Champ

Sixteen Members from across the country visited Case IH’s European HQ and factory in St Valentin, Austria with Ashley Gilman and Jemma Neesham at the end of February. Accompanied by Case IH UK’s David Redman and Andy Whiley, they test drove every machine in the range, the Optum in particular impressing everyone. “We have a great relationship with Case IH,” says Ashley. “Our special Fleet Scheme has been running since 2000, providing additional rebates on new machines direct from Case IH, over and above what members negotiate with their Case IH dealer.” “I am delighted that we will be hosting the first Fram Farmers ‘Red Power Day’ on 7th April,” he adds. “Case IH’s current range stands comparison with anything else on the market; so come along to Framlingham and take a closer look at what they offer. For full details, ask Jemma Neesham or Tom Mountain at the Fram Farmers office.”

and this led to a distribution deal in Dubai, which gave UK supermarkets confidence to order. From humble beginnings supplying local butchers and St. George’s Market in Belfast, Mash Direct has become an award-winning farming enterprise which produces innovative quick-serve quality vegetable products with the taste and texture of homemade food. It markets over 30 products as far away as New York and Dubai. In 2016 alone, Mash Direct won numerous awards, its Crispy Vegetable Bakes taking the Gold Innovation Award at the international food show, SIAL in Abu Dhabi, the company being named Best Chilled Manufacturer and Food Manufacturing Company of the Year. Often you cannot plan how the future will look, so rather than continuing to do what you’ve always done think laterally, broaden your horizons, develop new ideas which add value and find customers. BUILDING A BRITISH BRAND Another speaker at Oxford was Alison Capper, who helped transform British hops into a brand which brewers are willing to pay a premium for, after considering how to turn around her family’s loss-making hop growing operation in Worcestershire.

Despite being a large grower and producing high-quality hops, Alison realised that these were simply a commodity bought on price. Realising there was more to enhancing the value of her hops than simply a catchy name, she rallied other British growers within the British Hop Association and with only a small budget developed a premium brand which numerous brewers now incorporate into their beers, enhancing growers’ returns. All that sounds simple when you think about it. But that’s just it - you must think about it. So, consider the assets and knowledge you have available, understand where markets are, research new opportunities, create demand, then fulfil it. If you have an idea but are unsure how to progress it, feel free to contact me in confidence. I’m involved in several organisations including the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Agri-Tech East, which brings together organisations in the agri-tech sector, and ARTIS, which trains growers, farmers and managers in the food supply chain, and will steer you in the right direction. Richard Anscombe, Chief Executive, Fram Farmers

Fram Farmers, Station Road, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 9EE Tel 01728 727700 Every precaution has been taken to ensure that the material published in Farmers First is accurate at the time of printing. For further details about any of the information featured in this edition please call Ashley Gilman at Fram Farmers on 01728 727700, or Charles Macdowell at Land Communication on 01473 353613.

4 Director Profile

WENDY HOUSTON “THE BEST IS YET TO COME” Members will benefit even more from Fram Farmers in a post-Brexit environment, says Wendy Houston, who became a Director in November 2015. “I firmly believe that Fram Farmers’ best days are still to come,” Wendy Houston enthuses. “We have an excellent team of directors and staff and I see even greater opportunities to help members operate successfully in a postBrexit environment.” Having gained a Degree in psychology, Wendy spent a year with Shell before deciding that life in an office was not for her. In 1997 she returned to the family farming business which was started when her grandparents in Horham, Suffolk, and her father, David, moved to Red Court, Swilland in 1936. Wendy has been driving the business forward for 20 years, and her objective is to position it to operate profitably beyond the Single Farm Payment. Farming 1,100 acres of owned and FBT land, S. E. Kent & Son operate a six-year rotation encompassing wheat, barley, oilseed rape, spring beans and sugar beet, alongside a 550-sow farrow-to-finish unit. The business has been a Fram Farmers member for many years and purchases all key inputs through the cooperative, from fertiliser, ag-chems and fuel to electricity, wearing parts and straights. Wendy and husband Andrew, a pig farmer from Yorkshire, also operate MPS Agri Ltd, a market-leader in electronic sow feeding systems. PROFITABILITY IS ESSENTIAL Wendy has always been driven by the goal of increasing profitability to sustain the business and make the sacrifices involved in working full time while raising two children worthwhile. In the 1990s, when Wendy became involved, the pig sector faced torrid times and low prices meant that producers were losing money. That made her determined that the family

business would never again be involved in loss-making situations, so no investment is made without a pre-determined income stream to pay for it. Wendy points out that in an era where banks are becoming increasingly reluctant to lend, even farms with a strong asset base must ensure their operations are profitable. Wendy has done a tremendous amount to change traditional ways of working and modernise the farm’s infrastructure. In the last decade alone, 70% of the pig accommodation has been replaced and sow numbers increased by one-third. All slurry is stored for use on arable crops to replace bagged nitrogen, and while these two approaches are similar in cost per kgN, the heavy soil benefits from very high organic matter. In 2006, driven by a desire to change the traditional nature of the family business and improve profitability, Wendy embarked on a Nuffield Scholarship. An eighteen-month study into the ‘Quality and uniformity of pig meat’, it included an eight-week study tour to Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. “The Scholarship changed my thinking,” Wendy explains. “Travelling to different countries taught me the logical way to keep pigs in terms of infrastructure and processes. The benefits have continued, because my year group is so diverse, and all of us benefit from an ongoing exchange of information and thoughts.”

INVALUABLE INPUT That learning experience has been compounded by Wendy’s closer involvement with Fram Farmers, fellow Directors and members over the last eighteen months. “Being a Director is time consuming and a significant commitment, but I get out as much as I put in,” Wendy explains. “Board members all run excellent

Wendy Houston

businesses and it’s invaluable to spend time with them, learn how they approach challenges and hear how they solve problems. It has helped to change the way I do things, made me more professional and to expect more from my own staff. I also get to meet and learn from members of the Pig Group as well as the Next Generation Council, the future of our cooperative. “I appreciate what a wonderful team of staff we have at Fram Farmers, how motivated they are and the lengths to which they go to ensure that members receive the best possible advice, service and prices. We should all be very thankful to have them on our side. “Having studied how cooperatives around the world operate I see an increasing need for Fram Farmers in the future, to help us meet the challenges ahead.”

Member Profile - Home Farm Nacton, Suffolk 5 Continued from page 1


just 80 hours and featured Case IH’s CVX transmission and fully suspended Surveyor cab. Since then it has done over 1,000 hours having been in daily use. Guided by GPS, which avoids the need to turn sharply by enabling alternate bouts to be worked, the tractor operates with a five-leg subsoiler, 3.8m Keeble Progressive heavy cultivator, seven-furrow Kverneland plough-press combination and a triple-bed former. None of these tax its capabilities and the tractor uses less

fuel than the much less powerful model it replaced, while doing a better job, more quickly with more positive traction. The 617-litre fuel and 99-litre urea tanks reduce fill-ups and keep the Magnum Rowtrac hard at work. Comfortable to operate, even for extended periods and on the road, it is also simple to maintain and offers easy access for regular maintenance. Apart from a few niggles which were covered by the four-year/ 6,000-hour warranty, it’s been reliable too. The recent installation of the Case Home Farm Nacton produce a wide range of crops which are harvested year-round, so tractors are always in use for cultivating, planting and harvesting, says Andrew Williams, Farms Director.

Four new Puma 175 CVX models have recently been delivered to Home Farm Nacton – seen here with their ‘big brother’ Magnum Rowtrac in the centre.

ABOUT CASE IH’S MAGNUM ROWTRAC “Powerful and efficient, the Magnum Rowtrac combines the manoeuvrability, handling and versatility of a wheeled tractor, yet floats over the ground like a tracked machine,” says Andrew Whiley at Case IH, who as Major Accounts Manager is responsible for Fram Farmers. “Its positivedrive tracks deliver power to the ground 100 per cent of the time even when turning, unlike twin-tracked machines, resulting in minimum soil disturbance on headlands, enhanced stability and a smoother ride.” Launched in 2015, the Magnum Rowtrac compliments its wheeled cousins, giving new direction in tractive effort. Basing its looks on the Magnum, the ‘Tractor of The Year’ at that time, the Rowtrac has been fully engineered from the engine backwards to accommodate the Case IH’s proven triangle shape track design. Today’s expanded line-up includes five versions which are powered by an 8.7-litre, six-cylinder FPT engine, all of which have power growth when in work. The 310hp Magnum 310 Rowtrac and 340hp Magnum 340 Rowtrac feature a 19x4 Full Powershift 40kph transmission, with the option of a 40kph 23x6 Full Powershift with creeper. They are joined by the 310hp Magnum 310 Rowtrac CVX, 340hp Magnum 340 Rowtrac CVX and 379hp Magnum 380 Rowtrac CVX, which

incorporate a continuously variable CVX 40kph transmission linked to a maximum 435hp engine, which tops out the range. “Our design draws on all the experience we have gained since introducing the Quadtrac in 1997,” explains Andrew. “Maintaining the principle of using four contact points to transmit power, it features Case IH designed and built tracks which are 61cm or 76.2cm wide and operate at 193cm, 203.2cm or 223.5cm spacing. “Transmitting the power is optimised by the fact that the rear tracks oscillate and pivot to maintain a flat footprint, so traction remains unaffected by either the load on the three-point linkage or drawbar. Unlike a twin-track machine, the Rowtrac produces very little soil scuffing even when it turns sharply, so the surface is left level which reduces the need for additional passes to correct damage. “Compared with a twin-track machine, the Rowtrac’s design greatly reduces pressure on the soil, the amount of weight transfer from front to rear and any forward/ backwards pitching movement. It also enables the use of differential locks, which are standard, to maximise traction, a feature which is not possible on twin-track machines. I like to say it ‘floats

IH AFS Connect telematics system will enhance the tractor’s already high specification by providing data such as work rate, fuel use and the amount of time that the engine spends idling, which should reduce operating costs. Impressed by the Rowtrac’s performance and the dealer support, Home Farm Nacton have just taken delivery of four new Case IH Puma 175 CVX models. like a butterfly and stings like a bee’,” he concludes. The Magnum Rowtrac is available with Case IH Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) technologies, including advanced vehicle control and guidance systems, farm management software and AFS Connect telematics, vehicle control and guidance systems, farm management software and AFS Connect telematics.



SUFFOLK SHOW 31st May & 1st June Trinity Park, Ipswich


14th & 15th June Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire

CEREALS VARIETIES TRIALS DAY 5th July Ickleton, Cambridgeshire

To attend please email



OF COURSE IT’S IMPRESSIVE – IT‘S RED. From the outside, you’ll notice that Maxxum tractors look strikingly different to their predecessors, with sharp fresh styling and improved lighting. But it’s what you can’t see that makes these tractors so different. The latest FPT engines – more frugal, cleaner and with greater power outputs of 115 - 150 hp – give great power-to-weight ratios, while its strength and equipment make it ready to tackle any task.


For information on the Fram Farmers rebate, call the Machinery Team on 01728 727719

Crop Marketing 7

GRAIN POOLS ARE KEY TO MANAGING RISK Fram Farmers’ pools generate aboveaverage returns from combinable crops without the risks of selling on the spot market. When agricultural commodity prices are low, it is critical to maximise returns by marketing crops effectively. Fram Farmers’ pools are an excellent way to do this and ensure that you have a team of completely independent experts working exclusively in your best interests. Farmers are understandably reluctant to trust others to market their crops, but in today’s constantly-changing global markets it is vital to involve experts who can monitor the situation for you. Supply and demand used to be the sole drivers of prices, but agricultural commodities are widely traded and speculation frequently drives the market. Consequently, you must be able to interpret what is happening, have a strategic overview Marketing Manager Tim Styles, together and react quickly when necessary. with four members of the ADM Direct team, Our grain pools help to overcome market including Barry Howard. This brings an instability and provide a vital tool in any excellent spread and depth of knowledge well-balanced approach to crop marketing. to this critical area of our members’ This very simple, safe method generates businesses. consistently above-average returns, without ADM are an excellent the considerable risks partner because of ‘spot’ selling. While they are absolutely many believe that all ‘in the market’ as pools generate much both a crusher of the same results, this OSR and miller of absolutely is not the wheat. They provide case. Fram Farmers’ all the technical transparent approach, and fundamental combined with market information, consistent results and and together we set the benefits of our targets for marketing unique partnership a percentage of with ADM, is reflected Suffolk arable farmer Andrew Read is a member the pool tonnage in significant member of Fram Farmers’ Grain Marketing Pools Committee each month at commitment to and a great believer in pools marketing. pre-set levels. We our pools. hold regular meetings and fortnightly We currently offer four pool periods for conference calls, but if anything happens in cereals and oilseed rape – a ‘harvest’ pool the meantime, such as major fluctuations covering crop movement in August and in currencies or adverse weather, we hear September, 1 October to 31 December, 1 January to 31 March and 1 April to 30 June about it right away, discuss the potential impact and act if required. – together with pools for break crops. ADDING VALUE Managed by grain marketing professionals within Fram Farmers who take care of day-to-day decisions, our pools provide the opportunity to add value with premiums where applicable, a choice of payment dates, access to advance payments at favourable rates, credit insurance on sales, a storage option and flexible haulage arrangements. They are supervised by a pools committee which determines the sales strategy and monitors pool performance. The three farmer representatives include Fram Farmers’ Directors John Parkinson, Andrew Read and David Scott, Fram Farmers CEO Richard Anscombe and Purchasing & Grain

COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT We provide a comprehensive, completely independent service, and are perfectly placed to join up all the dots in the supply chain, from independent advice on selecting varieties, working with independent agronomists and sourcing seed, fertiliser and ag-chems, to marketing combinable crops to a wide range of end users. We offer preferential access to some premium contracts, and where possible match producers with consumers locally to minimise transport costs and create added value. The key is that we always do what is best for you. Many of the best-performing farming businesses recognise that their strength is in crop production and now leave marketing to specialists with the information, knowledge and connections to optimise returns. The additional revenue which could be achieved by using Fram Farmers’ pools could make a substantial difference to your farm’s overall profitability, so please contact Tim Styles at the Fram Farmers’ office to find out more.


Tom Mountain (L) talks numbers with a visiting supplier

8 Supplier update: Tyres

TECHNICAL PARTNERSHIPS DRIVE TYRE AND TRACTION REVOLUTION Technical partnerships between specialist offroad tyre company Mitas and leading machinery manufacturers are accelerating development of novel traction technology capable of minimising soil damage and increasing operating efficiency. Tyres with the ground pressure of tracks, or which can inflate and deflate in seconds, may sound years away, but fast-track industry initiatives could see them in commercial production within months, says Jon Ward, Managing Director, Mitas UK. Such has been the increase in demand for crop production systems which limit soil damage that top-level industry partnerships have been forged to meet the challenge. “It’s difficult to look at tyres in isolation without understanding the environment in which farming now takes place, and the technical capability of machinery manufacturers to maximise the potential of new traction technology,” Mr Ward explains. “We’re now looking at spreaders and large combines which weigh 50 tonnes fully loaded, yet everyone is more aware of the need to protect soils and their structure. This has required an exponential rise in technical understanding to calculate how such weights can be carried safely, both on the road and in the field, hence the need for intense collaboration across different engineering disciplines.” One of the biggest challenges has been that the operating pressures required to minimise soil compaction in the field have conventionally been much lower than for legal running on the road. Mr Ward adds: “You can address this by devising ways of changing inflation pressures rapidly from the tractor cab, or developing radical tyre technology which can operate at much lower inflation pressures across the board - we’ve looked at both.” AIRCELL: RAPID INFLATION AND DEFLATION Working with Fendt, Mitas has developed AirCell technology, based on a rigid inner tyre that can be pressurised to 8 bar. When some of this air is released it can inflate large agricultural tyres by +/- 1 bar (from 0.8 bar to 1.8

The Mitas PneuTrac allows operators to choose the optimum pressure for field use knowing it will be perfect for the road.

bar) in under 30 seconds - over 10 times faster than current methods. “The Mitas AirCell is located on the rim inside the tyre and occupies about 30% of its volume. Tyres can be run at low pressure in the field with air from the AirCell being released on demand to rapidly increase the pressure ahead of roadwork. It can then be lost quickly via a specially developed valve. As the AirCell is constantly recharged, the inflation/ deflation cycle can occur as often as required.”

Mitas AirCell has been available for the Fendt 900 Vario equipped with Mitas 710/75 R42 SFT tyres since November 2016, and some results from technology partnerships are also available now. Partnership with CLAAS resulted in the development of the CHO (Cyclic Harvest Operations) tyre, and several new sizes have recently been launched. A CHO tyre can run at a 31% lower pressure for the same load compared to a standard tyre of the same width. This

gives the CHO tyre a 24% increase in footprint to spread the load and protect soils when running with full grain tanks and mounted cutter bars without the need to go to wider widths.” PNEUTRAC: HALF THE PRESSURE Perhaps the most startling partnership initiative is Mitas’ development of the PneuTrac (pronounced newtrack) tyre with Gallileo Wheel Ltd. Field testing has shown that it is possible to run PneuTrac at 0.5 bar in the field compared to 1.0 bar, with a 25% improvement in tractive force over a standard tyre and 15% more than a high flexion tyre. Such practical developments are starting to reverse much of the current thinking towards tyre use, Jon Ward believes. “With PneuTrac you choose the optimum pressure for field use knowing it will also be perfect for the road because of the design’s inherent rigidity. You’ve also got the added benefits of better handling, improved ride and runflat if you’re unlucky enough to need it.”

For further details on Mitas tyres go to or contact Jemma Neesham, Machinery Buyer, Fram Farmers. T: 01728 727719 E:

CROP INPUTS: Ag-chem products update 9


Laura Buckingham

2017 sees new ag-chem products becoming available and the Fram Farmers Arable Inputs Team working ever more closely with manufacturers, distributors and independent agronomists to provide members with the best possible prices and service, says Laura Buckingham, Arable Inputs Manager. Members purchase over £60 million of seed,fertiliser and crop protection products annually. We are acutely aware of the current pressure on margins and cash flow, so our goal is to help you minimise input costs while maximising returns from crop sales through a range of initiatives, from the supply of sharply-priced seed, fertiliser and ag-chem products to securing premium contracts for your combinable crops. We pride ourselves in providing totally independent and unbiased market information, supplying a diverse range of products, offering preferential delivery/ payment terms and securing additional suppliers’ rebates. Benchmarking has shown that Fram Farmers already save members 4%-8% on ag-chem costs compared with normal distribution channels, but we continually strive to purchase more effectively and enhance security of supply. In a global market, significant commodity price fluctuations and challenging supply chains make it imperative that we build

strong supplier relationships based on mutual understanding of each other’s businesses and trust. We view suppliers as key allies and work closely with them, whilst negotiating strongly to achieve the best outcomes for members. Fram Farmers’ complete overview of the market puts us in a unique position. Because we are not a supplier and do not hold stock we have no vested interest in which products you purchase, therefore we can provide a completely impartial view of products and services, whatever your requirements. We work hard to build on our close relationships with independent agronomists, who are so important to a large proportion of our members in enabling product choices to be separated from product purchases, thereby obtaining best value. Last autumn, for example, we worked alongside key independent agronomy groups to source specific products which met their technical and label requirements, then used the combined volume to negotiate advantageous terms. With pressure on margins it’s important to apply only products which generate a positive economic benefit and ensure that other factors, such as macro and micro nutrient deficiencies, are not limiting so that the combination of all inputs deliver optimum results. A recent comparison between the 2015 and 2016 growing seasons highlighted a fall in real terms of ag-chem costs to members. The survey, done by Katya Wilkinson, covered the top 100 products. These results highlight our negotiating strength. NEW FOR 2017 Fungicides are a vital crop input, not just to maintain yield but to build yield, so we are excited by the launch of Ascra XPro from Bayer Cropscience and Elatus Era from Syngenta. Having attended the launch of both I appreciate that they introduce some interesting new benefits to a market where several key products have dominated for some years. However, they arrive at a time when there is likely to be more upward pressure on prices by manufacturers but less ability or inclination by farmers to invest.

We will be looking at these new products in relation to existing offerings as the season progresses, bearing in mind the need to balance potential benefits against likely higher costs. So, what’s new?

Like other products in the Xpro family of fungicides, Ascra Xpro comes with the added physiological and application benefits of the Leafshield Formulation System.

BAYER AGROSCIENCES Bayer has been at the forefront of modern cereal fungicide technology since their introduction in the mid-1970s and continues to deliver innovative, highly effective solutions, investing 10% of what customers spend on their products back into R&D. Ascra Xpro is the company’s new fungicide for the control of stem-based, foliar and ear diseases including Septoria, rusts, Fusarium and mildew, at T2 in winter wheat. Launched in 2017, Ascra Xpro is the first product to combine the power of two SDHI’s with the class-leading azole, Prothioconazole, providing a further stepup in performance over existing SDHIs. Trials have already shown that it provides outstanding control of cereal diseases, including improved performance against Septoria in wheat to help protect yield.

Your Nationwide Training Specialist

continued on page 11.


Relax. It’s Arylex.

NEW Broad-leaved weed control for cereals

Discover the perfect balance. New Pixxaro™ EC combines Arylex™ Active and fluroxypyr to deliver outstanding broad-leaved weed control in winter and spring cereals irrespective of the weather or weed growth patterns. And there are no major following crop restrictions. If you want a herbicide that delivers the perfect balance of fast, flexible and cost-effective control, you’ve found it. New Pixxaro EC. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. For further information including warning phrases and symbols refer to label. Dow AgroSciences Limited, CPC2, Capital Park, Fulbourn, Cambridge CB21 5XE. Tel: +44 (0) 1462 457272. ®TM Trademark of the Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. All other brand names are trademarks of other manufacturers for which proprietary rights may exist. PIXXAROTM EC contains halauxifen-methyl (ArylexTM Active) and fluroxypyr. Technical Hotline: 0800 689 8899 | |

CROP INPUTS: Ag-chem products update 11 continued from page 9.

DOW AGROSCIENCES Dow AgroSciences’ Pixxaro EC (Arylex + fluroxypyr), which I and other independent agronomists saw in action last year, is an innovative new spring-applied herbicide for controlling broad-leaved weeds in winter and spring cereals. It is the first molecule in over 20 years to be launched in the UK to provide a new level of dependable and flexible weed control from spring applications to all cereals. Pixxaro EC is based on the innovative active ingredient Arylex Active (halauxifen-methyl) developed by Dow AgroSciences and registered in the UK in 2015. The new product also contains fluroxypyr, the tried and trusted active in Starane.

Poppy three days after application of Pixxaro at 0.375L/ ha

Pixxaro EC is a wide spectrum broad-leaved weed herbicide which gives reliable control across a range of weather conditions and growth patterns, providing greater flexibility on the timing of spring broad-leaved weed control and excellent results. It has superior activity compared to sulfonyl-urea products on dead nettles, fumitory, fat hen, cleavers, volunteer beans, ALS-resistant chickweed and poppy. The product has no rotational restrictions, no cultivations are required before sowing most crops and there’s no restriction on straw use or management. The product also offers excellent multiway compatibility including ACCase graminicides, ALS graminicides, PGRs, fungicides and trace elements.

Broadleaved weeds

DUPONT New Provalia LQM, from DuPont, is a new liquid formulation of established active ingredients, designed to hit a wide range of broadleaved weeds quickly. Using metsulfuron-methyl, thifensulfuron-methyl and fluroxypyr, I understand that its trials have shown an impressive speed of kill against cleavers, charlock, cranesbill and chickweed, though it is effective against more than 40 species. As the actives have different modes of action, this should help control some ALS resistant weeds too. Up until now, you have only been allowed two ALS herbicide applications, so if you wanted to use other ALSs in the autumn, like Atlantis WG and FPU, your spring options have been limited. Provalia LQM is the first ALS that can be used in a threeway sequence. This should help in putting together blackgrass strategies, for example. SYNGENTA Syngenta’s SDHI fungicide Elatus Era, based on the novel active ingredient Solatenol in co-formulation with prothioconazole, is the most significant product which Syngenta UK has launched in over 10 years. It’s good to see Syngenta back in the T2 market with a product that has been described as ‘class leading’ by independent experts. Elatus Era is registered for use on wheat, barley, rye and triticale for the control of all major cereal diseases, at a maximum rate of 1l/ha, providing a powerful and consistent option for growers to use as part of their crop protection programme.

With hundreds of field trials carried out within the UK and Europe since 2011, Elatus Era has proven itself to consistently deliver yield benefits due to its ability to enhance green leaf area, and it offers excellent activity on Septoria tritici, plus market-leading activity on rusts. Syngenta claims that the product has performed well in both high and low disease pressure years, across multiple locations, varieties and crops. Extensive trial work by ADAS, Prime Ag and Teagasc in 2016 confirmed the performance of Solatenol as an effective T2 fungicide. The intrinsic characteristic which it has of providing complete leaf protection really shone through last year, particularly with the high disease pressures which characterised the season and in ADAS trials the direct correlation between green leaf area duration and yield response was clearly demonstrated. Solatenol outperformed competitor SDHIs in the percentage green leaf area maintained on leaf one over a fourweek period and delivered a 0.28t/ha yield average increase compared to fluxapyroxad plus metconazole.

© SYNGENTA Brown Rust on wheat day 7 of infection

DuPont Provalia LQM ™

DuPont LQM Herbicides

™ ®

The powerful new solution for broad spectrum weed control. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. Unless indicated, trademarks with ® or ™ are trademarks of DuPont or affiliates. ©2017 DuPont. Provalia™ contains Thifensulfuron methyl, Metsulfuron methyl and Fluroxypyr-meptyl


CROP INPUTS: Staff Profile 13



ARABLE INPUTS SPECIALIST The appointment of Ross Dawson as Arable Inputs Specialist further strengthens Fram Farmers’ Crop Inputs Team, which is headed by Crop Inputs Manager Laura Buckingham and now comprises five professionally qualified

and experienced product specialists covering seed, fertiliser and ag-chems. Including BASIS and FACTS qualified advisers, this dedicated team is at the forefront of the industry in terms of overall sector knowledge, works purely on behalf of members and delivers an unrivalled service. Ross was raised on his parents’ 300acre arable farm at Haughley in Suffolk, where he lives with his fiancé, and gained a Degree in Business Management at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich. He subsequently joined G. B. Seeds, a Division of Agrii at Ingham near Bury St Edmunds in 2011, quickly became Seeds Manager and went on to gain his Seed BASIS qualification. Within this role, he had full commercial responsibility for seed crops produced in East Anglia, conducted both wholesale and retail seed sales and advice, as well as managing a niche crop product area, Naked Oats, covering the UK. Ross states: “I was looking for a new challenge, and having seen the benefits which a true farmer-owned cooperative can offer its members was delighted to join Fram Farmers. Coming from a profit-driven business, this represents a very different working environment but I am thrilled to be in a situation where the directors and management team fully

understand the industry, processes and structures, while really enjoying dealing with members and suppliers.” Initially, working with Annie Buckingham (Fertiliser Buyer) to support that area, Ross will also be involved in seed and ag-chems, giving the team an additional resource to further strengthen Arable Inputs. He is also responsible for organising Fram Farmers’ annual cereal varieties trials day, which this year will be held at RAGT Seeds site at Ickleton near Saffron Walden, Cambridgeshire, on the 5th of July. The event will provide members with an opportunity to assess the full range of Recommended List and Candidate varieties, bring their moisture meters along to a clinic, as well as involving other areas of the business.

Last year’s Variety Trials day

DUPONT LAUNCHES FIRST NEW GENERATION LIQUID SULFONYL-UREA HERBICIDES “With the introduction of Provalia LQM This spring UK cereal farmers get access to a cost effective and reliable new solution for the control of cleavers and other difficult broadleaved weed species in winter cereals. Provalia LQM is a highly active new herbicide combining the proven active ingredients metsulfuron-methyl, thifensulfuron-methyl and fluroxypyr in an advanced liquid OD formulation that provides improved spray retention on the leaf and faster uptake and translocation by the weed. This results in faster activity and better performance under marginal conditions. “As well as working faster, Provalia LQM is more effective against larger weeds and wider weed spectrum including over 40 weed species such as cleavers, groundsel, polygonums and some difficult umbelliferous species such as wild carrot,” says DuPont herbicide product manager Alister McRobbie. “Combining active ingredients with

Broadleaved weeds

different modes of action optimises the control of some ALS resistant weeds such as chickweed too. “Unique to Provalia LQM is the fact that it can also be used as part of a three-way sequence with other ALS herbicides such as FPU and Atlantis WG in winter wheat,” he says. Until now, a maximum of two applications of ALS herbicides have been allowed, which has restricted the choice of a spring herbicide when growers had used FPU and Atlantis WG as part of their autumn grassweed strategy.

growers now have the flexibility to follow up in the spring with the most effective new option for broadleaved weed control,” says Mr McRobbie. Independent agronomist Jackie Cotton who covers Northumberland and Scottish Borders has seen weedscreen trials in the Borders on Provalia LQM which she says gave an impressive result against charlock, cranesbill, chickweed and cleavers. She notes that the product gave an impressive speed of kill when applied to weeds earlier in the season as well as to larger weeds and being a combination of very effective actives achieves the full weed control spectrum in one product. “We think Provalia will be less temperature dependent which means we can still spray when the weather is less favourable earlier in the season – effectively increasing our spray window opportunity. “Approval for a unique three ALS sequence is also excellent news for growers now experiencing levels of difficult to control blackgrass – a problem seen all the more too frequently in the North of England and the Scottish Borders,” says Mrs Cotton.

NEW AscraXpro at T2 For the best disease control and biggest yields AscraXpro - the first T2 fungicide to combine the power of two SDHIs to deliver the best disease control and increased yields for UK farmers.

• Average 0.3 t/ha yield increase over Adexar* • Proven to deliver the best available Septoria control and biggest yields in AHDB trials 2016** • Increased curativity for additional kickback • 80% dose of the best azole prothioconazole • Search for Ascra online to find out more and benefit from the latest chemistry.

*Average of 14 2016 Independent and Bayer trials. **AHDB Fungicide performance results (2016). AscraXpro contains bixafen, fluopyram and prothioconazole. Adexar contains epoxiconazole and fluxapyroxad. Ascra and Xpro are registered Trade Marks of Bayer. All other brands listed may be Trade Marks of other manufacturers and proprietary rights may exist. 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 visit or call Bayer Assist on 0808 1969522. © Bayer CropScience Limited 2017.


CROP INPUTS: Supplier Update – Fungicide 15

CONSISTENCY THE HIGHLIGHT OF NEW FUNGICIDE why in Ascra, at the recommended rate of 1.2 L/ha, it contains an 80% dose of prothioconazole. “That’s the minimum amount of azole any SDHI should be partnered with. Unfortunately, at the rate many products are being recommended the azole dose is being reduced to 60% or below. It only increases the pressure on the SDHI and we must take a long-term view on this,” she warned.

Bayer’s Tim Nicholson

CONSISTENCY For Bayer’s Tim Nicholson it wasn’t just the yield response that interested him but the consistency of the results. Across the three farms soils ranged from alluvial clay to sandy loam, varieties included Reflection, Santiago and Crusoe and in the case of Mr Ponder and Mr Beamish coastal climate influences. He explains that Bayer gave over 40 farmers the chance to try Ascra Xpro and the results reflected

All 5 AICC trials 2016

All 5 AICC Trials 2016 Brown rust control

Y rust control

% Septoria control






80 70














Adexar 1.25 + Bravo 1.0 l/ha

Adexar 1.5 + Bravo 1.0 l/ha

Librax 1.25 + Bravo 1.0 l/ha

Aviator Xpro 1.0 l/ha

Aviator Xpro 1.25 l/ha

Ascra Xpro 1.2 Ascra Xpro 1.5 l/ha l/ha

5 AICC trials 2016. T1 overspray Tracker 1.0 + Rubric 0.2 + CTL 1.0 L/ha. Trials assessed early- mid July. 5 trials had Septoria; avg untd L1-2; 12%. 2 trials had Brown rust, avg untd L1-2 23%. 1 Trial had Yellow rust, avg untd L1; 7%. Avg untreated yield 10.1 t/ha.


% Disease control

The three, Charles Mathieson of Street Farm, Norton, Alan Ponder of Deal Hall Farm, Burnham on Crouch and James Beamish of the Holkham Farming Company, Norfolk, all compared Ascra Xpro against Adexar (epoxiconazole + fluxapyroxad) in split field trials on their respective farms. All three saw yield responses in the region 0.2-0.4 t/ha. Mr Ponder saw relatively low disease pressure, with not a great deal of Septoria around, and no threat from rusts or mildew. “The yield increase wasn’t huge but the T2 was the only change in the programme, and you wouldn’t expect it in a season like that,” he says. “But I want to use the most potent chemistry where we see the greatest return.”

the experiences of Messrs Ponder, Mathieson and Beamish. “Our Judge For Yourself participants ranged across the entire arable area and included 16 different varieties, various soils types, drilling dates and climatic conditions. Over 70% of them had higher yields from using Ascra over their current T2, with a mean increase of 0.3 t/ ha. All we did was give these farmers the fungicide, the rest was down to them.” Mr Nicholson feels much of that result is down to the complementary effects of the two SDHI components, bixafen and fluopyram. “Fluopyram’s quick movement through the leaf for improved curative activity is coupled with bixafen’s slower movement for greater persistence which means a wider application window with the product if delayed by weather,” he says. But he warns that the addition of a second SDHI shouldn’t be viewed as a way to prevent resistance from developing. “The key for slowing resistance development to SDHIs is to use them with another active ingredient with activity against Septoria, which is

Yield increase over untreated t/ha

New fungicide technology will help growers’ drive for increased yields, based on the experience of three East Anglian farmers who were fortunate enough to try Bayer’s new fungicide Ascra Xpro (prothioconazole + bixafen + fluopyram) under the company’s Judge For Yourself initiative.

PERFORMANCE The azole component in Ascra is also very important to its performance. “You only have to look at AHDB fungicide dose curves to see that the gap in azole performance has widened. Prothioconazole remains a good Septoria protectant and it is a contributory factor in the class leading protection Ascra brings.” To illustrate this, he points to Bayerfunded research with SRUC, ADAS, Prime Agriculture and Envirofield. This compared Septoria control from two straight applications of prothioconazole, epoxiconazole and metconazole at full, 80% and 60% doses. The results were quite revealing. “At every site we saw superior control from prothioconazole. The mean of an 80% dose of prothioconazole at T1 and T2 gave over 50% control, much higher than the equivalent dose of epoxiconazole. Metconazole fared a little better but was only in the low thirties,” he notes. When asked about physiological benefits he believes that it could be a factor in 2016 trial and Judge For Yourself results. “Ascra has the same photosynthesis and greening label claim as Aviator Xpro but ADAS research has also shown rooting and water use efficiency benefits, so it is very likely that Ascra’s broad physiological properties came into play,” he concludes.

DOWNLOAD THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO ROTAM’S CROP PROTECTION PRODUCTS Cost-conscious farmers throughout the UK are heeding advice from satisfied customers and switching to Rotam, the UK’s fastestexpanding post-patent company. “We’re finding that farmers who try them keep coming back for more,” said Chris Pye, Rotam Europe Commercial & Marketing Manager. Among them is Fram Farmers member Ed Nesling, of Winfield Farms. On the advice of his independent crop consultant, Ed began using Rotam’s Boudha at his 950-acre family farming enterprise two seasons ago and found the experience encouraging. “It did all that it was supposed to do and at a much cheaper price. Price is very important – that’s the clincher for me,” he said. “As long as those factors stay the same I have no reason to change.” Mr Pye said the agrochemical industry is undergoing many changes, including major mergers. While farmers do not like uncertainty, they do like choice. Companies like Rotam, the fastest-growing brand specialising in revitalising patent-expired formulas in the UK, offers that choice. “We know what farmers want because we talk to them. In six years we’ve established a reputation for quality and reliability coupled with that over-arching, value-for-money factor,” said Mr Pye. “We have the market-leading straight Tebuconazole product on the market – Toledo – while our Sulfonylurea herbicides – Boudha, Ergon, Savvy Premium, and Hiatus – out-perform many competitors.” All the key information regarding these products can now be viewed at any time on your smart phone or tablet via a new app. Download it now for free and start using the essential guide for Rotam’s crop protection products.


Download the Rotam app

CROP INPUTS: Fertilisers 17


Product Price

Fertiliser Pool 2016/17

Annie Buckingham

Fertiliser Buyer Annie Buckingham explains why Fram Farmers’ fertiliser pools should form part of a wellstructured approach to inputs purchasing. “Markets for key farm inputs and outputs are now highly volatile, so it is critical to time input purchases and output sales correctly. One of the ways we help members to achieve this is through our fertiliser pools, which allow you to purchase at favorable prices and manage risk. This last point is particularly important, because since 2008 fertiliser markets have changed considerably. INCREASINGLY RELEVANT The results of our fertiliser pools for 2016/2017 demonstrate excellent prices and the advantages of purchasing in this way. Average prices were £154.78 for Lithan, £170.55 for Nitram, £175.00 for Single Top, £180.39 for Granular Urea and £184.44 for Double Top. All products were purchased at or near the bottom of the market, highlighting the value of our experts constantly monitoring markets and using their knowledge of participating members’ committed tonnages to negotiate with suppliers and book products at favorable prices. Since then, fertiliser product prices have risen significantly and are currently (February 2017) approximately £230 for Single Top, £235 for Lithan, £245 for Double Top and Nitram and £270 for granular urea. WHAT MEMBERS THINK Will Bevan has used our fertiliser pools for two years to purchase the Ammonium Nitrate (CF Fertilisers Nitram 34%N) and Urea for his 730-hectare Longstowe Hall Estate in Cambridgeshire. Outlining the benefits, he states: “We operate a high input system, so






























DoubleTop Granular Urea SingleTop


Nitram Lithan









DoubleTop pool price; £184.44

Nitram pool price; £170.55

Granular Urea pool price; £180.39

Lithan pool price; £154.78

SingleTop pool price; £175.00

fertiliser is a major expense and makes a significant difference to the gross margin, but large fluctuations in currency and oil prices have made it very difficult for any farming business to judge the best time to order. “Unlike the grain markets where so much information is available, fertiliser is very trade oriented. Without the insight from Fram Farmers we may not have the information to give this major purchase the consideration it warrants. “Being a member of Fram Farmers and the fertiliser pool is a weight off my mind, as I know their specialists are constantly involved in the markets. That allows me to take a more managed approach to purchasing this major input. When I looked at this season’s fertiliser pool figures I was delighted to see that AN and urea had been bought at or very near the bottom of the market.”

John Gould of A. B. Gould & Son farms 650ha at Poplars Farm, Tansor near Peterborough, of which 440ha is into arable production. He states: “Most of the fertiliser we apply is in liquid form because it suits our system. In past seasons, we have applied 28 tonnes of Double Top (CF Fertilisers - 27N

30SO3) to OSR where additional sulphur is required, but this year I doubled the tonnage and will also apply it on other crops because atmospheric sulphur deposition has declined rapidly in recent years.” Representing 15%-20% of the farm’s total fertiliser requirements, the Double Top was delivered in November, with payment split 50:50 in September and February. John adds: “The Fram Farmers’ fertiliser pool saves me time by eliminating the need to shop around as I can rely on them to achieve very competitive prices. Pools have never been more relevant. Brexit produced great uncertainty, exchange rates have fluctuated wildly and with the global economic and political situation becoming more uncertain, markets will be very volatile. There has never been a better time to purchase inputs or market combinable crops using this method. Aware of the pressures on farming businesses we have introduced even more beneficial terms for 2017/2018. Instead of operating from June to January, our fertiliser pools will now run from June to March, enabling grassland-based enterprises as well as arable farms to benefit. We have also extended the second payment from the end of February to the end of April. It is very easy to participate. We will send out commitment forms for the 2017/2018 pools in April and all you need to do is fill in your address, details of the tonnage of each product you require and where you want it delivered. We will take it from there.” For further information contact Annie Buckingham on 01728 727700

This is what Septoria looks like inside your wheat leaf

Find out more at



Syngenta UK Ltd. Registered in England No. 849037. CPC4, Capital Park, Fulbourn, Cambridge CB21 5XE Tel: 01223 883400 Fax: 01223 882195 Email: Web: ELATUS™ ERA is a trademark of a Syngenta Group Company. ELATUS ERA (MAPP 17889) contains benzovindiflupyr and prothioconazole. 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 ©Syngenta AG January 2017. GQ06948.

CROP INPUTS: Supplier profile – crop nutrition 19

ILEX ENVIROSCIENCES BRING THE BENEFITS OF ADVANCED CROP NUTRITION DIRECT TO GROWERS Ilex EnviroSciences has worked with UK farmers and growers to develop and provide innovative, costeffective crop nutrition solutions for over 12 years. The Lincolnshire-based company creates concentrated, easy to use nutrients which optimise plant health and maximise crop performance.

Correct nutrition is crucial in optimising crop quality and yield. Using the latest developments in plant science and nutrition, Ilex foliar fertilisers and seed treatments give growers highly efficient tools to stimulate crop development and healthy growth at key timings. Ilex Envirosciences uses technicalgrade raw materials in advanced, cost-effective formulations which deliver nutrition in the most plant-available form, the beneficial effects being readily observable. PHOSPHITE-POWERED NUTRITION Ilex is a pioneer in the innovative use of phosphite technology. Through the delivery of key nutrients tailored to crop needs and the stimulation of stronger root systems, the unique chemistry of Ilex phosphites improves the crop’s ability to access nutrients and water from the soil, required for healthy establishment and growth. Introducing an Ilex foliar phosphite into a standard agchem programme can deliver significant plant health and yield benefits while keeping input costs manageable. CEREALS Crop Rooter-P can be used to boost healthy root development and tillering in winter and spring sown cereals. The beneficial levels of Nitrogen, Potassium and particularly Phosphorus in both phosphate and phosphite forms will

Winter Wheat showing increased root mass when treated with phosphite-based liquid nutrient.

stimulate root development to aid effective nutrient and water uptake in both wet and dry conditions. OILSEED RAPE The NPK and phosphite content of OilSeed Raiser is supplemented with Boron, Calcium and Molybdenum, all key elements required by OSR, as a brassica, in relatively large amounts in comparison to cereals. Applying OilSeed Raiser during the key establishment and rapid growth stages provides these essential nutrients and stimulates the growth of tap and lateral root systems to produce a more resilient crop.

Treated OSR plants on left “Having introduced the crop specific nutrient packages provided by Ilex, I can already clearly see the physical benefits in this year’s crop.” Laura Buckingham, Arable Inputs Manager, Fram Farmers

PEAS AND BEANS For peas and beans, zero nitrogen formulation Maniphos combines manganese with Sulphur, Phosphorus and Potassium to prevent deficiencies impacting quality and yield. Applying these key nutrients in combination with phosphite chemistry, Maniphos increases their uptake and mobility, boosts root development and improves nutrient use efficiency. SUGAR BEET Beet Raiser has been formulated to target the higher nutrient demand of sugar beet for NPK, Magnesium and key micronutrients such as Boron, Zinc and Molybdenum. Applying it at an early growth stage will ensure timely availability of the nutrition required for healthy establishment, stress resistance and productive photosynthesis. Initial field trials using Beet Raiser alongside a standard nutrition programme yielded excellent increases in size and uniformity. POTATOES Optimum growth in potato crops requires a comprehensive approach to

nutrition, addressing both macro and micronutrient requirements. The unique multi-nutrient package in PK MAXX+ combines macro nutrients with key trace elements Zinc, Copper, Boron, Iron and Molybdenum, any of which can limit yield if deficient. In addition, the combination of plant-mobile phosphate and phosphite P promotes healthy stolon development and larger root systems, improving the crop’s ability to access soil nutrients and encouraging healthy canopy and tuber growth. When applied at tuber initiation, PK MAXX+ acts as a biostimulant trigger to boost tuber numbers in seed and salad potato crops. For processing and bagged ware crops, timed applications during tuber bulking increase tuber size and overall yield. In field trials carried out with growers in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire to test yield response in different varieties, plots treated with PK MAXX+ consistently outperformed control plots on tuber yield, size and uniformity. With a product cost of less than £40/ha in 2016, these trials demonstrate how a small investment in targeted nutrition can produce a significant return.

Further information from: Ilex EnviroSciences Ltd, North Hangar, Wickenby Airfield, Lincoln LN3 5AX T: +44(0) 1673 885175 E: W:

20 Insurance Update

FRAM FARMERS INSURANCE REDUCES PREMIUMS BY AN AVERAGE OF 30% “Launched in 2015, Fram Farmers Insurance was developed with Andrew Thompson & Associates Business Insurance Brokers and enables you to benefit from their expertise of commercial insurance,” says Insurance Account Officer Lydia Chance-King. “It has exceeded all expectations, with 93 members saving an average of 30% on their policy costs and significant time, as well as being reassured that they have the correct type and level of cover. Members’ annual spend on insurance ranges from a few hundred pounds to £130,000, the average premium being £12,000. But with one major provider dominating the rural insurance market, members have often faced year-on-year price increases, struggled to obtain value and lacked access to the correct advice. Insurance policies can be daunting, with tens of thousands of words, legal jargon and exclusion clauses masking their real worth. Besides not truly understanding what you are paying for, you may also wonder whether you can truly trust your insurer or broker. Do they really work for you or for their own pockets? With Fram Farmers Insurance there are no such doubts. We are totally focussed

The Cutting family at Helmingham in Suffolk changed to Fram Farmers Insurance after a protracted negotiation with their previous insurers over a large claim against an arson attack on a pig barn and straw shed.

on doing what’s best for you. Currently, we work with several specialist farm and motor insurers, as only by going out to the market through a broker can you be certain of obtaining best value. We also do this when your policy comes up for renewal, so the cover provided represents best value and remains relevant. We now issue 15 quotes per month, a considerable undertaking because of the thorough way we do things. NEW LEGAL COVER A key area where we have improved Fram


DUTCH OPENERS TO FIT HORSCH/CO & SPRINTER AND SUMO DTS The Universal Series comes with a single body, delivery tubes and a variety of tip options. 01787 242740

Farmers Insurance is the inclusion of Rural Protect management liability cover, which provides personal and corporate cover for legal expenses, awards and settlements. Amongst the many benefits is a pro-active advice service, with information and guidance on an unrivalled range of legal and regulatory issues which cause directors’ concern, together with a 24/7 crisis legal helpline and much, much more. The cover we provide ranges dramatically in scope from personal travel and single vehicle insurance, right up to policies for the most complex farming businesses. Having


Designed to fit Horsch style drills.

TUNGSTEN FACE Leading edge of body and wings is Tungsten to increase durability.


Roll pins provide quick installation of tips.

TUBES Granular, liquid & bean tube options.

Insurance Update 21 just reduced one farm’s annual premium by approximately £10,000, with the added benefit of Rural Protect, I know that it would be worth your while contacting us. Should you need to claim, you will always be able to get hold of us. We will be on the other end of the ‘phone, travel to be with you, stand by your side and argue your case. We will then work with loss adjusters and insurers to ensure that claims are settled quickly and efficiently. Insure with us and no longer will you have to worry about dealing with call centres and faceless ‘claims handlers’. We know you, you know us, and we work for you and with you.”



To find out how Fram Farmers could help you contact Lydia Chance-King on 01728 727721 or

The benefits of dealing with us include: 1. Full analysis of existing cover 2. Very competitive premiums 3. Monthly payment facility

4. Rapid claims service and settlement 5. Fram Farmers members’ additional discount over and above the insurers’ competitive terms 6. Rural Protect liability cover

Lydia Chance-King

Industrial & Agricultural Doors

From a farming background in Wiltshire, Lydia Chance-King became an active member of Young Farmers in 2012 and chaired Salisbury & District Young Farmers from 2014 to 2015. Having moved to Suffolk with her fiancé, who works for a local farming business, Lydia joined our Accounts Department in September 2016 and subsequently was appointed Insurance Account Officer, a role in which she manages the relationship between Fram Farmers and Andrew Thompson & Associates (AT&A). Lydia divides her time between the Fram Farmers office, trade events and visiting members throughout the country with AT&A to discuss insurance requirements, making sure that the correct type and level of cover is in place and highlighting the benefits of Fram Farmers Insurance. To ensure that members receive first-class support, Lydia works closely with AT&A’s 11-strong team of experts based in Ipswich, together with Kyle Stanway, who joined Fram Farmers as Insurance Administrator in December and has a background in motor insurance.

01359 259 259

Building & Agricultural Merchants

We supply and install a wide range of Industrial and Agricultural Doors and Screens. For any application, we have got the product for you. Please enquire for further details.

Telephone: 01603 410304d BLINDS & SHUTTERS Lt

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22 FUEL: Supplier update

TIME FOR ANOTHER LOOK AT FUEL QUALITY? There are better ways to get the most from your engine than road diesel, advises Neil Ryding, Managing Director of Exocet Fuelling Solutions.

When the A2 gas oil (red diesel) standard was changed in 2011 there was a lot of debate about its effect on fuel performance and storage. This was largely concerned with the possible negative effects of the increase in the allowable biodiesel content. In the event, the biodiesel content of red diesel has remained extremely low – few suppliers currently add it to fuel in quantity, although this is likely to change, possibly this year and certainly by 2020. By contrast, road (white) diesel – EN590 – usually contains 4-5% by volume biodiesel. Meanwhile engine and exhaust technology has moved through tiers 3, 4i and 4 as vehicle manufacturers meet stringent emissions limits imposed on them. This has needed the introduction of extremely elaborate and sensitive fuel injection equipment, operating at very high pressure and with very tight tolerances, to enable highly efficient fuel atomisation and combustion. Coupled with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), selective catalytic reduction (SCR, e.g. AdBlue) and diesel particulate filters, for example, and you have a vehicle that requires fuel of a much higher quality if it is to operate - and to keep operating - at optimum performance. WHAT’S NEEDED? What is the right fuel for your tractor or combine? Even now manufacturers have a wide array of expectations, ranging from fairly relaxed American standards to a demand for EN590 with the threat of voided warranties if this is not used. This leaves farmers and contractors confused and frustrated. Regrettably there is tremendous ignorance in the industry that is unfortunately being perpetuated. Firstly, going back to basics, fuel should be clear, bright and free of obvious water and solids content. Secondly, it should meet minimum standards for: i) sulphur content (high sulphur content adversely affects emissions control); ii) lubricity (low lubricity causes premature wear of injectors and fuel pumps); iii) cetane number (the higher the cetane number the easier and earlier in the compression stroke of a 4-stroke engine a fuel will ignite, which assists in a more compete combustion) WHAT’S AVAILABLE? In the UK, red diesel remains the fuel most readily sold and used in agriculture, and in all practical senses compares to white road diesel (EN590) other than its cetane number

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specification (minimum 45 as opposed to minimum 51), and its cold flow performance – EN590 specifies a slightly better cold weather protection. The maximum sulphur content and the minimum lubricity specification of the two fuels is equivalent. Whilst there is little an end-user can do about fuel sulphur content, the fuel supplier can modify the cetane number, cold weather performance and lubricity, as can the enduser themselves, using an appropriate and recognised fuel additive. The same additives used in fuel manufacturing are readily available. Given the general availability of red diesel across the country as opposed to dyed EN590, it is unreasonable for equipment suppliers to require EN590 to be used at the expense of a lost warranty for non-compliance. We do not believe this requirement is practical or realistic, and it is certainly not necessary. We maintain that basic EN590 is not the best fuel for a modern engine and engine designers at the major agricultural machinery manufacturers would agree. The injection systems used in a modern tractor are often more sophisticated than those used in passenger cars, yet car manufacturers

have insisted on the upgrading of standard forecourt fuel since the late 1970s. They expect fuel to be available to match their engine design rather than engines being designed around the fuel available, with a deposit control chemistry to keep the injectors free of solid build-up and maintain optimum fuel flow. Agricultural equipment should now be viewed in exactly the same way, but unless you choose to buy fuel from a branded roadside forecourt, this option is not currently available. It is possible to have red diesel supplied with an additive ‘package’ containing deposit control and other enhancements; together they exceed the critical specifications of EN590 and is closer to the needs and expectations of the designers and their engines. EN590 is not the universal answer to modern engine needs and there is much more you can do. We’d be delighted to provide further explanations and discussions.

FUEL: Market update 23


Annie Buckingham President Trump signs orders to permit the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines

Markets have been very volatile over the last few months, with large fluctuations in exchange rates (GBP/USD) and barrel prices (USD) making it very difficult for farmers to pick the right time to order, says Mark Vice, General Agricultural Inputs Manager. Since January 2016, when oil prices hit their lowest for a decade, $28.50, they have almost doubled, to around $55.50 at the time of writing. The 1.2 million barrels per day (mbd), six-month production cut agreed by OPEC’s 14 members in December, together with Russia’s 0.6mbd cut, was well reported. But it still came as a real surprise to the market when it happened in January 2017 because no-one believed the arrangement would hold, as it had been eight years since OPEC had managed to initiate such an agreement. Subsequently, prices increased sharply to around $57 per barrel.

Mark Vice, General Agricultural Inputs Manager

OPEC has started suggesting that they may continue beyond the initial period of cuts into the second half of the year. Adding to the uncertainty is US President Trump, whose actions and comments are having

a huge effect on global economies and markets, often in seconds. With a stroke of the Executive Order pen, Trump revived two key infrastructure projects that had stalled under the former administration. One is the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline to carry more than 800,000 barrels of petroleum daily the 1,200 miles from Canada’s oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Another is the $3.7 billion, 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline to move 470,000 barrels per day across the Midwest from North Dakota to southern Illinois. However, although shale-oil volume is coming back on line, much of the workforce that was once employed in this sector dissipated when oil prices fell and many production facilities were mothballed. It remains to be seen whether and how quickly that lost capacity comes back. Such factors make it very difficult to correctly time the market, but fuel is such a major area for Fram Farmers that we invest significant time and effort to get it right. Each year we purchase around 45 million litres and can arrange delivery anywhere in the country. To help members control input cost risks, we initiated a trial fuel pool for 2017 to identify whether it could provide better prices than the single-point forward buy pools which have provided members with a very significant and valuable risk management tool in previous years. In 2016 for example 100 members participated in a 4.2 million litre single-buy, with deliveries from March to October. A fuel pool team comprising Fram Farmers Directors Andrew Read and James Foskett, together with Gary Pleasance (Managing Director, Framtrade Ltd) and myself, studied the markets very closely to assess the right time to buy the 1.4 million litres to which members in the trial have committed. I will report further in the next issue.

A PROFESSIONAL TEAM One of my goals has been to build and develop stronger, long term relationships with suppliers, moving away from a transactional basis towards more mutually beneficial partnerships. I’ve invested a huge amount of time and effort into this, and benchmark prices and delivery performance daily. This approach has undoubtedly helped to improve prices and service across all three key fuel groups and distribution areas. Members who purchase fuel have also benefited from improved deliveries and reduced lead times, as little as two days even during harvest, as we now source from 22 distribution depots. Member feedback from all regions has been very positive. I really am proud of my team, including the three new members who joined recently: Kate Pender, James Gentry and StewartGoldie Morrison. All of them have been fully trained so that they can support each other across general arable inputs throughout the seasons, and rise to the challenge which fuel volatility can bring. If you have not used Fram Farmers for your fuel, or have been using other distributors for reasons of price or service, do get in touch to see how much our prices and service have improved. We regularly save members £600 to £700 on a full load, and one member saved enough to pay for a new high-capacity tank installation. For orders over 10,000 litres we go out to the market for an individual quote, so I am confident you will not be disappointed.

James Foskett of James Foskett Farms Ltd in Suffolk was one of the first members to sign up for the fixedprice fuel initiative to allow more accurate budgeting, and booked 270,000 litres in 2016.

Farmers First Spring 2017  

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