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I ncreasing precision has allowed Tom and Richard Wood to build on their quality wheat growing record at Walmer Farm near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire increasing average yields by around 0.5tha and reducing costs per tonne. Specialising in bread wheat for more than 30 years the father son partnership and their Agrii agronomist David Vine have driven this performance improvement by progressively introducing precision technologies across their 400 ha business. Weve always made the full milling specification with our Group 1s and were averaging around 10t tha from first and 8t ha from second wheats in our wheatwheat rape rotation Richard explained. But our performance had definitely plateaued. At the same time black-grass was beginning to rear its ugly head in places and we had a suspicion that P levels might be becoming limiting. Precision agronomy has really helped us tackle these challenges. In 2014 we averaged 10.1 tha over the weighbridge across our first and second wheats while continuing to make the full milling spec. We also brought in an average 5tha from our winter OSR. So were clearly making good progress. To pinpoint actual variations in soil type and PK status an 80 ha block of four fields at Walmer Farm was SoilQuest conductivity scanned in 2009. Despite regular soil sampling showing PK indices of 2 in most fields this revealed 20-30 of many with P K indices of 1 while other parts were indexing 3 or more. The SoilQuesting really highlighted the inadequacies of traditional field soil sampling and arbitrary grid-based mapping systems stressed David Vine. Having discovered the true extent of their soil variations Tom and Richard invested in an Amazone spreader with variable rate capability in 2010. At the same time they had SoilQuest scan and sample the rest of the farm. Since then weve cut all PK from the liquid fertiliser regime and been variably applying both automatically to field management zones. Weve already more than paid for the mapping and sampling by the saving over the blanket PK dressing wed otherwise have needed says David Vine. More importantly re-sampling last autumn showed our indices were consistently 2s and 3s across every zone. So weve been able to concentrate our applications where theyre needed rather than waste them where they arent. Seeing how well the management zones reflected their own knowledge of the fields and old field boundaries in particular gave the Woods the faith to take the next step into precision by moving to variable seed rates for all their wheat in 2012. Every season Richard and David now sit down with the field maps and create their seed plans based on an average sowing rate for the conditions and sowing date with management zone rates adjusted up or down by up to 20 . Variable seed rates have been a big step forward reported Richard. Theyve really helped us ensure more consistent establishment. Automatically upping the seed rate on difficult areas of each field and where we most need to out-compete slugs and black-grass is giving us far more even and uniform crops with none of those tell-tale gappy patches. For us precision agronomy is all about combining our understanding of the farm with Davids expertise and technical know-how in targeting our inputs better and better in both space and time to boost yields and reduce costs per tonne. The more we take advantage of the technologies we consider right for us the more benefits were finding from them. And theyre making the closer working with David we consider vital to our future so much easier and more productive. Precision AgronomyCropTecWheat World Record Claim 04 Growing Precision Drives Quality Wheat Progress COME AND VISIT US ON THE AGRII STAND AT CROPTEC 2015 Tom and Richard Wood implementing a precision-based approach at Walmer Farm. STOP PRESS As part of our Best of British Wheat Project we were delighted to hear of Agrii Customer in the north Rod Smith and his teams World Record Claim of 16.52 tha from a Dickens crop for Master Seeds. You can read more about it on our website at www.agrii.co.uk or find out more at our Autumn iFarm events. DATES Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th November 2015 LOCATION East of England Showground Peterborough