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Category Archive: Agrii West Autumn 2013

  1. AgriiFocus research Update

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    Dr Syed Shah – AgriiFocus R&D Manager

    Getting the AgriiFocus site drilled last autumn was a big challenge, as, like most farmers, we found it difficult to achieve good field conditions. Our main priority was to do everything to maintain plant survival, to encourage rooting and to maximise crop canopies.

    The application of CCC-based PGR, Nutriphite PGA and trace elements (Cu, Zn, Mn, B) probably helped the wheat crop to produce good yields even in a very difficult year. The benefits of Nutriphite PGA and Quark treatments were clearly visible in the winter oilseed rape and the crop looked healthier, brighter and had a higher green area index than the crop in the untreated plots.

    The data and results from this and other nutrition trials will be presented in the forthcoming farmer meetings at the AgriiFocus site. This year field and weather conditions have been much better. We are comparing the yields and quality of 103 varieties of winter oilseed rape, 89 varieties of winter wheat and 59 varieties of winter barley at the AgriiFocus site; Agrii’s Technology Centre in the Western Region. Under investigation are the effects of sowing date, seed rate, foliar nutrition and different types of phosphate and nitrogen fertiliser on crop quality and yield. In addition we are investigating the effect of different cultivation systems, seed rates and herbicide treatments on the control of Black-grass. The black-grass trials are located on different farms so if you want to visit these trials please talk to your agronomist.

    We look forward to seeing you at one of our AgriiFocus events this season.

  2. Variations on a theme of Strip Tillage

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    Carl Flint – Agronomist

    As we know, half the battle with winter rape is successful establishment. To get as much field work done in the time available, drill and cultivation engineers are continuing to focus some of their efforts on single pass ‘strip’ drills to produce a good tilth and seed bed for oilseed rape seed, where less soil is cultivated and less horse power is required per metre of working width.

    Currently we are investigating a number of such drills at the AgriiFocus site. Strip tillage, cultivating a narrow strip of soil to produce a tilth and leaving undisturbed stubble between the ripping tines, is widely used in the States. Can it be adapted to provide a system for rape establishment suitable for our conditions? We are having an exploratory look.

    Establishing winter rape in wider rows gives us the possibility of using an interrow shrouded hood sprayer to target glyphosate in a controlled manner between the rows and at the same time use conventional oilseed rape chemistry in the row. We are examining the Micron Sprayer system on the site this year to assess the practicality of the setup and its crop safety.

    We look forward to seeing you at one of our open days – please contact your local Agrii contact.

    A selection of machinery

  3. New Precision Options from SoilQuest

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    SoilQuest is Agrii’s Precision Agronomy System, providing agronomists, farmers and growers with accurate information about their soils on which to base profitable decisions.

    Currently working with a significant numbers of our customers across the West, SoilQuest uses Veris scanning and detailed analysis to produce soil maps and management zones within fields, which when integrated with variable rate equipment can apply inputs in a much more targeted and cost effective way.

    Agrii’s SoilQuest service offers three options to gather data and provide advice, allowing us match your specific requirements.


  4. Non-compliance still costing farmers

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    Failures of cross compliance inspections in 2012 have recently been published by the RPA (  The results show poor record keeping was the major factor in cross compliance breaches costing farmers £1.4 million in reductions to their Single Payment Scheme (SPS). Changes have been made to cross compliance rules in the past year, primarily around NVZ regulations, no spread zones and cattle ID rules.

    The Good News

    The figures show a slight reduction in the total number of failures from 2,046 in 2011 to 1,947 last year.

    Animal related SMRs still top failures

    The highest number of breaches (670) was among cattle keepers for failing to report deaths or movement of their animals. Problems were also shown with movements not being recorded in farm records.

    The Bad News

    The number of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) failings almost trebled in 2012, incomplete records being the main breach.  Additionally, the number of failings for not having or incorrectly completing a Soil Protection Review nearly doubled.  The majority of these failures received a minimum 5% SPS reduction, worth approximately £11/ha.

    Other areas where breaches have increased include obstructions on public rights of way (GAEC 8) and inappropriate cultivation and pesticide use in field boundary protection zones (GAEC 14).

    There were failures for the new GAEC 19 rules, no spread zones, these rules are particularly relevant for farmers outside NVZ designations but using organic manures.  For this failures were down to spreading organic manure without a risk map and storing muck far too close to watercourses.

    How Can We Help

    The average inspection fine for the key failures identified in this article sits between 3 – 5% of the SPS which is worth approximately £10/ha.

    Agrii have a dedicated team of environment and compliance specialists giving you advice and support alongside your Agrii contacts.  This team offers advice through a Farm Auditing Service.  This is an on farm health-check tailored to your farm business to assess and evaluate farm compliance and identify where SPS risks lie.

    If you are interested in knowing more about our auditing service, please get in touch with Paul Pickford on 07909 925413 or

  5. Late Autumn Seed Choices

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    Barry Barker – Arable Seed Product Manager

    Normally late autumn wheat drilling is regarded as anything from mid October through to the end of the calendar year. However, the conditions of the past few years have led growers to drill all the way through into the spring with winter varieties, with generally positive results.

    The HGCA produces a recommended list for the late autumn which compares both winter wheat types and so called alternative wheat types. In essence those latter varieties are ones that require little vernalisation and can equally be drilled after the normal cut off date for winter varieties. Recently breeders have been bringing forward a greater number and agronomically improved alternative varieties and this combined with the difficult conditions for many last year has resulted in a far larger number of growers trying the alternative wheat types.

     Mulika is by far the most popular variety of the alternative types and the fact it is capable of attracting NABIM Group 1 premiums gives it the edge for many growers over some of the other alternative types. This is followed in popularity by an old favourite Tybalt (Group 2) and newer varieties KWS Alderon (Group 4 Hard) and KWS Willow (Group 2). The latter two have been showing some yield advantages over Mulika and Tybalt and are competing with the best of the winter wheats in official trials data. Agronomically there is not a lot to choose between them though it should be noted that Mulika is a bit taller than the others but does have the benefit of Orange Blossom Midge Resistance.

    Growers tend to favour the winter wheat types at the front end of the late autumn ‘slot’ and certainly with very few exceptions most can be drilled through the October/November period. And as has been previously mentioned, many growers now have experience of drilling some of these varieties in Jan/Feb and even some into early March.

    Though growers must always check the latest safe sowing dates for each variety. Varieties such as Conqueror and Duxford have long been favourites in the later drilled slot but varieties such as KWS Santiago and KWS Kielder should also continue to deliver their high yield potentials albeit with the relatively lower yields associated with later drilling. Some growers will also be looking at going after maize or roots. Cocoon has the highest Fusarium resistance on the list and Invicta will also deliver a decent performance.

    One other variety, not on the list, to consider is Xi19. Still favoured with Group 1 premiums by millers and suitable for drilling from October through to the end of February. So growers have a number of options to consider and hopefully this autumn will deliver better sowing conditions than we had in 2012!

  6. Innovative Arable Research Strategy Unveiled

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    Genetics, nutrition and soils, precision agronomy, crop protection and emerging technologies are the central pillars of the innovative five year research strategy unveiled this autumn to underpin the most significant expansion in applied research, development and technical support for UK farming in more than 20 years.

    In a significant first for the agricultural supply industry, the formal plan is designed to focus the multi-million pound extra national Agrii research investment announced last year on the most important gaps cereal, oilseed rape, potato, vegetable and fruit production knowledge.

    It has been developed by the special R&D Strategy Board established under the independent chairmanship of leading crop scientist, Professor James Burke to guide activities in close
    co-operation with some of the country’s most respected specialists and organisations.

    “Our first five-year research plan is based on an extensive national R&D priorities study conducted with customers and agronomists across the country over the past 12 months,” explains head of technology and services, Clare Bend. “It refines the wide range of potential study areas identified through this into more than 50 research projects validated for their contribution to growers’ needs and prioritised by region.

    “Increasing the production system efficiency and improving product quality and safety with the greatest economic and environmental sustainability is the core purpose of the plan. It builds on the extensive trials programme we already have underway to optimise the performance of current systems and identify new solutions to the most pressing agronomic challenges. Managing risk and volatility and maximising return on investment are central to all its components.”

    As well as organising the company’s research into a series of carefully-integrated work programmes for the greatest customer value, the R&D strategy allocates specific internal and external resources to deliver them and sets out the way this will be done through the developing network of regional Agrii Technology Centres and ifarms.

    Key Agrii Research Strategy Pillars

    1. Identifying superior genetics and the best ways of exploiting them through variety-specific agronomy;
    2. Improving crop nutrition and soil management through a better understanding of individual nutrients, their interactions and soil health;
    3. Employing precision agronomy, electronically-driven aids and real-time trials data for more effective crop management and decision-making;
    4. Harnessing the full range of cultural controls alongside agrochemicals for the most integrated and effective crop protection; and,
    5. Exploring the practical value of exciting new nano-science, bio-pesticide and other emerging technologies in crop protection and nutrition.