Agrii Scope: June 20th 2020 - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

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June 19, 2020

Agrii Scope: June 20th 2020

Well its been a busy time, with agronomy still on-going and joining in with many team meetings to go through the Agrii winter wheat advisory list which now includes sustainability metrics. I still have some meetings on this subject next week, but so far it has been great to hear the views that this takes variety selection on to another level.

I have completed the winter barley advisory list plus metrics as well, so this will be circulated shortly. David Leaper has also done something similar for winter oilseed rape.

Also the professional video work has nearly been completed, just the one site left now which is Longhirst (Northumberland) where Jim Carswell and the North seed team will run through the variety work there from very much a Northern perspective including soft wheat varieties for Scotland. More on this later in the notes, but I would like to say many thanks as usual to the contributors and I hope you enjoy.

Incremental hedge cutting

We start the notes with a lovely piece from our ‘one and only environmental guru’, Marek Nowakowski. There will be a series of environmental videos by Marek covering various topics from Hogweed to Cuckoo spit, all of them I find fascinating and shows you can keep on learning!

Food barley

Peter Smith revisits one of our new market opportunities crops near Loughborough.
The video was taken on 3rd June showing this naked food barley variety moving through the growth stages and looking good even though rain would be appreciated.

Canary seed herbicide screen – Cotswolds

First featured in these notes (22nd May), Canary seed contracts are being offered and growers have had some reasonable success with this niche crop. However, it is important to know how to control canary seed as volunteers in the following wheat crop, so Chris Taylor takes us through the results now 14 and 28 days after the application timings. Some very useful information on product choice is demonstrated.

Chickpeas – Kent

Neil Harper walks us through a test crop of chickpeas and they are progressing nicely. Another crop opportunity we are looking at for the future and we are currently fine-tuning varieties and seed rates as well conducting a herbicide screen. Plenty of opportunity here to develop something rather different and very much wanted by end-users.

Maize under-sown with grass – Raglan

A very interesting concept which is gaining popularity, that of undersowing maize with grass. Here Chris Taylor demonstrates drilling through the maize crop with grass seed which will add a firm base for the maize harvest and over winter sheep on.

Winter rye variety trial – Bishop Burton (E Yorkshire)

There is no doubt that winter rye is becoming a very interesting crop to grow and we have been looking at various strategies on how to maximise the production of rye to grain. Philip Marr has been hugely involved for several years, firstly looking at rye for AD, but now also running the crops through to grain harvest. Jim Carswell based at Bishop Burton College has conducted rye to grain trials looking closely at variety suitability plus agronomy, and he takes us through his latest work.

Matt Richardson also talks on the video regarding market opportunities going forward and the timing is most opportune as Agrii and Glencore have just launched a buyback contract for this crop. I think exciting times, a real opportunity to increase margins using rye as an alternative to a second or third wheat, plus the sustainability of the crop and its value on some of the lighter, droughty soils could be a real benefit. Commercial crops so far-ranging across soil types have been extremely encouraging and if further markets can be developed including pig rations to baking and indeed malting, we could see a very bright future for the crop.

Stow Longa soils preview

An important topic as we go forward in to harvest and beyond – how do we ensure that the soils are returned to a sensible structure from the very wet winter of 2019?
It is imperative that the correct actions are taken as we simply don’t want to go in to 2021 with soils in a poor state and risking margins for next year.
So just as a taster of what is to come from the trials and some of our sites, I include this video from Stow Longa with Steve Corbett discussing the soil structure in a field we flagged as red, so don’t crop but remediate, with Glenn Bootman from Opico.
They talk us through a He-Va subsoiler, the options on it and importantly how to target any compaction and get this corrected.
Plenty of good points are raised, including the use of summer drilled cover crop options which are available right now and perhaps some of the main points to consider moving through to the autumn.

Summer virtual events

I started the note talking about professional filming at sites and we are turning these sessions around quickly. The sites include AgriFocus (Wilts), Revesby (Lincs), Boston and Stow Longa. I have had a quick preview of the Stow filming and I am really pleased with the results. For sure its nothing like seeing many people and having that chat and gossip which we really enjoy, but under the circumstances, I think the selection of videos on offer from these sites will give a great overview of the extensiveness of the R&D work around the Country Talking of extensive, there have been some wonderful videos taken by agronomists and R&D staff at ifarm sites literally from the Black Isle in Scotland to Saltash in Cornwall. Across to Wales and over to East Anglia and these have featured in my notes since the 30th March.

Now another round of videos are being completed from these sites and will all add to the summer virtual events which will be live to customers from 25th June.

Please note that you will receive a unique code to allow you to access the events website.
Customers will be sent invitations direct through the post, by email and text.

You will be able to view content from any Technology Centre or iFarm event of your choosing, as well as updates on key specialist areas, including FSS, RHIZA and Digital Technology Farms.

There will also be presentations and videos covering five key topics:

    • Soil solutions: How to manage your soils after the wet winter
    • Rotations revamp: What are your options going forward?
    • When to sell your crops? Help with maximising your margins
    • Resilience against resistance: Tools to help protect the products we have
    • Sustainable productivity: Maintaining yield while reducing your carbon footprint

So more than you can shake a stick at and BASIS and NRoSO points are available!

As the R&D Team, we really hope you enjoy all of what’s on offer – let’s celebrate the contributions made by so many guys and girls in the trickiest of times, for bringing you updates on the amazing diversity of topics they have already shown us.

My thanks also go to the marketing team for pulling this all together, it is so very new for all of us, but I think the digital world is certainly here to stay!

So, just as a teaser highlighting all of the summer virtual events, please take a look at the following video

Best wishes and stay safe

Colin Lloyd
Head of Agronomy

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