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Category Archive: Agrii East Autumn/Winter 2012

  1. Vegetable herbicide trials on show

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    Every October, the major vegetable seed companies in the UK open their trial grounds around Spalding in Lincolnshire for two days to allow growers to view new varieties. This year the major site involved was the Elsoms Seeds trial ground on the A16 near Spalding.

    Agrii once again held a large herbicide demonstration trial on the Elsoms site with good attendance over the two days. Comparing a range of current and future products for weed control in vegetable brassicas, the “matrix” layout of the trial allowed growers to see the combined effects of a range of pre-planting herbicides followed up by a set of post-planting treatments.

    The treatments included were built upon experience from Agrii trials in previous years and were intended to help growers optimise their weed control strategies. Continuing changes in product approvals in vegetables mean that “the same as last year” is not an option for most growers. Restrictions on metazachlor, changes in clopyralid approvals and the recent approvals for Wing-P are all affecting brassica growers in 2012. Three further Agrii replicated trials on brassicas in Scotland, Worcestershire and Kent have helped test the reliability of promising treatments. These form part of a series of 14 trials on a range of vegetable and salad crops this year. Previous trials have led to new combinations of existing products being recommended by Agrii agronomists and, in conjunction with HDC-funded trials, have also helped HDC to obtain EAMUs to provide new options for growers. Comparisons of weed control and of crop effects between different geographic areas and between seasons help to improve the consistency of results. Sequential treatments with low-dose herbicides have improved weed control whilst offering potential cost savings. And the chance to assess new materials in small plot replicated trials provided our technical team useful intelligence for the future.

    If you missed the Elsoms Seeds open days this year and would like information on our trial results, please contact your local agronomist. Alternatively, please contact Dan Hayes on 07860 637778 or David Townley on 07833 295935.

  2. Supporting growing decisions, Case study – Hush Heath Manor

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    Hush Heath Manor, led by Richard Balfour-Lynn and assisted by Estate Manager Stefan Turner, is a farm comprising of 240ha, some of which is used for the production of apples and wine grapes. During a recent expansion of the enterprise, the management team approached Agrii Agronomist Neil Obbard to examine ways to fine-tune the timing of pesticides and fertiliser in order to maximise the return on the farm’s input spend. Neil recommended the installation of a weather station to provide access to live meteorological feeds and pest and disease prediction data through the use of a range of various computer models. With their new weather station installed, the farm now receives three emails a week that detail disease pressure (past and predictive) on a local scale and also highlight potential spraying windows in the coming days. This is backed by text message disease alerts and 24/7 mobile access to check current conditions; it all adds up to a very valuable weapon in the decision making process.

    Not only has the weather station saved the farm money by modelling pest and disease pressures with the crops being grown, but it has also provided a platform for more accurate timing of inputs to maximise return on investment. In order to further support the decision-making process, Neil also recommended the Agrii SoilQuest system to give an accurate picture of the farms soils and nutrient requirements. The entire vineyard was sampled taking a multiple of soil cores using a quad bike fitted with specialist sampling equipment. The samples were independently analysed for their nutrient content and the data used to create soil maps which, in turn, allowed granular nutrients to be targeted where they were needed most, and more importantly, not applied where the soil had sufficient levels. Not only did this result in the saving of time and inputs, but also demonstrated a duty of care to the land and environment, not to mention improved soil nutrient status giving rise to improved cropping.

    By utilising the new generation of improved Agrii decision-making tools at your disposal, growers can rest assured that the most effective management approaches are being pursued and that input investments are optimised. If you would like to learn more about our weather stations or SoilQuest Precision Agronomy service and how they could help your business, please speak to your Agrii Agronomist or see the contacts section in this newsletter.

  3. SoilQuest get behind the combines – Harvest 2012

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    Sam Fordham, SoilQuest – East Region

    Well what a summer, I must have missed it! Despite the weather the SoilQuest team have been scanning right up behind the combines all over the eastern region. With additional new staff and new machines we have gobbled up lots of new farms, scanning 1000’s of hectares.

    The team have kept up behind the combines and pushed on in front of the cultivators. Once the fields are scanned the sampling team have been busy soil sampling every zone enabling us to produce detailed nutrient maps, and in turn, allowing growers to target their nutrient applications to where they are required. The maps are not only used for identifying nutrient requirements, once the grower has got their SoilQuest conductivity maps alongside the agronomist knowledge there have been many other uses across the region. The biggest being variable seed rate right through to IrriQuest moisture probes being positioned in fields based on the soil conductivity maps.

    The SoilQuest data really has lots of other uses on farm to help drive the efficiency of inputs. There is a lot more beyond nutrients we can use these maps for.

    For more information on our SoilQuest Precision Agronomy service, please contact Stuart Alexander on 07889 413190 or

  4. New Entry Level Stewardship options from January 2013

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    Beth Cooper, Agrii Consultancy Services

    Beth Cooper

    There are proposed changes that will affect ELS agreements starting from 1st January 2013. These have been made to improve the environmental outcomes of the scheme. Changes include reduction in points for some existing options such as hedgerow management and buffer strips as well as a reduction in points for the compulsory Farm Environment Record. Amendments have also been made to ease the management for some existing options. There is also a proposal for 5 new options to be added to the scheme.

    We are awaiting approval by the European Commission for these new ELS options but here is some information on two that we could see in the fourth edition of the ELS handbook. A new option proposed is ‘supplementary feeding for farmland birds’ between 1st January and 31st March to keep these bird populations fed during winter months. The proposed points for this option are 630 per tonne. The food must be a mixture of wheat and oilseed rape (75%), red millet, white millet and canary seed (25%). The grain should be spread once a week during this period on designated feeding sites.

    ‘Small-scale hedgerow restoration’ is another proposed option that is valued at 10 points per metre. This aims to encourage the development of well established and continuous hedges to link up habitats. Restoration includes hedge laying and gapping up with new hedge plants. For this option you make an annual commitment of hedge length restoration. For example, if you enter 20 metres of hedge for this option on your application form, this is a commitment to restore 20 metres annually for the 5 year agreement, in total restoring 100 metres of hedge. Other proposed options include; supplement to add wildflowers to buffer strips and field corners on cultivated land; Ryegrass seed set as winter and spring food for birds; and Legume and herb-rich swards.

    If you would like further advice on the ELS changes or if you would like help in applying for a new or renewal agreement please contact Beth on 07545 927474 or

  5. Standing up for farming

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    Mark Thomas, Head of Marketing and Communications

    Farming rarely receives a positive press. Much of what we read in the media is unbalanced and the many stories about what farming provides are often overlooked. We are delighted to see the NFU working to address this through their ‘Farming Delivers’ initiative and there are many individual farmers working to change the misconceptions held in some quarters about our fine industry.

    In addition to promoting the benefits of what we do, we should always be aware that politicians need reminding about how farming contributes to the economy, the environment and to the well-being of society. There is a danger that new regulations and legislation can be introduced without due consideration of the full facts and this is where Agrii seeks to do our bit to stand up for our customers and for the farming industry.

    As well as supporting our customers with their individual farming operations, Agrii personnel are actively involved with a number of initiatives to support, lobby and promote our customers interests from a wider perspective. We work in an industry that produces food and can impact (positively as well as negatively) on the environment – two emotive areas which means we are always under the spotlight from the public, politicians and the media and vulnerable to what are on occasion ill-informed criticisms.

    The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) is the UK trade association for the agricultural supply industry, they work to lobby policy makers and promote the benefits of modern commercial agriculture throughout the food chain. Agrii are heavily involved at all levels with AIC, including board representation. Agrii personnel dedicate time to serve on a number of AIC committees, including the crop protection, fertiliser, technical, environmental and logistics forums, providing specialist input to AIC activities and to ensure we can give direct feedback on issues that might affect our customers, before legislation is formulated. It helps to ensure we have a significant input and awareness of policy issues that could affect our business and that of our customers.

    Agrii staff are also involved in a range of environmental initiatives, to promote safe practice and demonstrate the positive impact that modern, professional farming can have, Including the Voluntary Initiative, the Campaign for the Farmed Environment and Catchment Sensitive Farming. We are a founder member of the new Harper Adams Soil and Water Centre and have representation on the Fresh Produce Consortium Technical Committee and the Industry Group of the British Beet Research Organisation In addition to this, we host around 150 events annually on our demonstration farms to share best practice and new ideas with our customers and are active participants in the UK’s annual Voluntary Initiative National Register of Sprayer Operators (NROSO) scheme. We have also been responsible for spearheading the drive for a separate course applicable to fruit crops. This initiative has played a significant role in averting the threat of a pesticide tax, as well as satisfying many of the requirements of the, recently introduced, Sustainable Use Directive (SUD.)


    Agrii work with over 20,000 farm customers and with this comes a significant responsibility that we take very seriously – to our customers, to the environment and to food safety. Rest assured we will continue to work and lobby on your behalf to ensure Farming’s voice is heard where it matters.

  6. Highlighting improvement opportunities – the Agrii Initiative

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    Whilst arable crop values have improved in recent years, the need to optimise inputs and identify management practices that lead to successful crops is a major objective on most farms.

    In response to this, we are compiling a database of arable crop performance across our region, to equip Agrii customers and agronomists with a unique management tool to support decision-making and maximise farm gross margins.

    Agrii customers have the opportunity to take part in this initiative. Those taking part will receive a regional and an individual farm report that incorporates regional farm data, as well as results taken from the Agrii R & D trial sites (Agrii have the most extensive trials network in the UK incorporating 50,000 trials plots), weather data from Agrii’s extensive weather network and advice from industry leading experts. This will allow participants to work with their Agrii Agronomist and help them to target management attention on areas where the best opportunity exists, thus allowing them to maximise farm profit and manage future farming challenges.

    If you would like to participate in this initiative and are not doing so already, please speak with your Agrii Agronomist.

  7. Upcoming Agrii Events for Autumn 2012

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    What’s coming up:

    • Market Rasen – 16th November
    • Leadenham – 13th November
    • Fincham – 14th November
    • Stow Longa – 15th November
    • Throws Farm – 23rd November

    Our demonstration sites offer farmers the opportunity to experience the very latest R&D and allow us to join up agri-science with practical agronomy, enabling our customers to constantly improve yields, grow profitable crops and respond to ‘The Food Challenge’.

    For more information on these events please speak to your Agrii Agronomist, alternatively you can contact Charlie Lewis on 01480 418078 or

  8. Sulphur focus in oilseed rape – Fincham R&D site

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    On behalf of GrowHow and ADAS, Agrii are hosting one of the sites taking part in a three year project looking into Sulphur responses in winter OSR. The objective of the trial is to understand if current Sulphur recommendations need changing due to progression in agronomic practice where N applications are dependent not only on the soil N supply but the size of the canopy in spring. The Agrii site hosting the trial is the Fincham R&D Site in Norfolk, chosen because of its Sulphur deficient status. The two other sites hosting trials are ADAS High Mowthorpe in North Yorkshire and ADAS Rosemaund in Herefordshire. The trials are spread across the country to ensure different growing conditions. The selection of sites is dependent on the likely Sulphur status, whether is it deficient, moderately deficient or sufficient.

    Nitrogen Strategy within the trial

    The trials include two Nitrogen treatments. Both N rates were calculated on a canopy management basis, either to produce a 3.5t or a 5t/ha crop. The Nitrogen rates at each site were calculated by the GrowHow N-Min & N-Calc Service. The N-Min analysis measures the two components of soil Nitrogen, those being Soil Mineral Nitrogen (SMN) and Additionally Available Nitrogen (AAN). SMN is Nitrogen which is available in the soil at the time of sampling and AAN is Nitrogen which becomes available between spring and harvest. The Nitrogen Calculator uses the soil N, spring crop N and target yield to calculate the appropriate fertiliser rate.

    Sulphur treatments

    In order to understand if the Sulphur recommendations have changed and are different between low and higher yielding crops, a series of Sulphur rates were applied including a zero S treatment. This ensures an optimum rate can be calculated. The Sulphur rates applied were 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 kg SO3/ha. To date, the experiments at each site have experienced two very different and difficult seasons and it is too early to draw definitive conclusions on changes to Sulphur recommendations. The last two crops grown at Fincham have been drastically different in terms of the size of crop in the spring and the overall supply of Nitrogen.

    2011 Crop

    The low spring GAI for the Fincham site in 2011 meant that the crop did not have the potential to reach the 5t/ha yield target due to the crop never reaching its optimum canopy size this was due to drought conditions at drilling and in the spring. However visual differences in crop biomass were observed where 30 kg/ha SO3 was applied compared to 90 kg/ha SO3. In 2011 the optimum Sulphur rate at each site was 63 kg/ha SO3 providing an average yield response of 0.4t/ha worth £146/ha (based on OSR @ £364/ha).

    2012 Crop

    For the 2012 crop the spring GAIs on average were 3 (150 kg/ha N) but as high as 3.4 (170kg N/ha). Due to the large amount of N already in the crop this meant that the Nitrogen rates for the trial were significantly lower compared to the previous year. To achieve a 3.5t/ha yield the calculated N treatment was 93% less than that applied in 2011 and to achieve a 5t crop the N treatment was 63% less. This highlights how different fertiliser requirement changes between seasons due to size of the crop and soil N supply in early spring. We will report yield results at the forthcoming Farmer meeting at Fincham.

    2013 Crop

    The site at Fincham was drilled on the 30th August and Agrii have the opportunity to demonstrate the trial throughout the forthcoming R&D events this autumn, we will also report on our other Sulphur related R&D projects. As always, we are grateful to the hosts of the Fincham site for their cooperation and we look forward to seeing your there on 14th November. For more information, please contact Tom Land on 07730 764043 or

  9. Ease input cash flow

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    Agrii provides easy access to finance for the purchase of GrowHow fertiliser, crop protection products and seed.

    Proven over many years, a significant number of our customers utilise this scheme, which is aimed at helping farmers manage finances and fund crop input programmes in a flexible and cost-effective way. The scheme enables Agrii customers to make purchases at the most advantageous time and plan a repayment schedule at periods best suited to your cash flow. 

    REMINDER: ING are withdrawing their offer. The last practical date for application is Wednesday 14th November 2012

    For further information please contact your Agrii Agronomist or contact 01937 588095.

  10. It’s not too late – seed choices for late autumn

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    For many, this autumn has been an extraordinarily difficult one due to delayed harvests, lower yields and poorer grain quality. As a consequence we have had oilseed rape going in later and some growers debating whether it is worth putting in the wheat late or waiting for the spring. So what are the choices for the land from mid October onwards?

    Winter Barley

    Whilst some would not be happy at drilling winter barley into mid October, varieties such as Volume or Element hybrid barley are ok into November. Hybrids tend to cope with less than ideal conditions better than conventional types and initially stocks were sold out better than expected yields on the continent have meant there may be some seed still available. 

    Winter Wheat

    Mid to late October onwards tends to be regarded as the ‘Late Autumn Wheat’ drilling time. The data on the HGCA list gives some pointers towards which may be the best varieties but I expect that by the time you read this article variety choice will be very limited. Xi19 still remains one of the best in the later season drilling window. Growers tend to forget it now that it is not on the recommended list but it can be drilled from October all the way through to early March. It fits the NABIM Group 1 category and the seed is normally cheaper than spring wheat seed, so all in all is seriously worth considering.

    Spring Wheat

    Not long ago the choice of what spring wheat to grow came down to Paragon, Tybalt and Belvoir with a few minor varieties to choose from. Paragon has for the most part been replaced with the new NABIM Group 1 variety Mulika but Tybalt and Belvoir still remain. Additionally KWS Alderon is available and the breeder is indicating that it could be particularly suited to the late autumn slot. Demand is likely to exceed stock availability if not from this country then from abroad so early orders will probably get the best price.

    Spring Rape and Linseed

    If it becomes too late for drilling rape in some areas then we could see an increase in the plantings of spring rape and linseed. Growers should check for the latest buy-back prices and seed availability should be ok.


    Early yields of peas and beans were mixed but the demand for blue and white peas as well as the traditional marrowfat types is still there, and of course winter beans need to go in from mid October and still provide an excellent break for growers and an opportunity to control blackgrass. Spring beans are in demand for the Egyptian markets so once again growers need to look at the buy-back terms for pulses as well as other crops before making a final decision.

    Whatever crop you choose we all hope for a better result than this year!