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Category Archive: Agrii West Summer 2013

  1. AgriiFocus Update

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    With the AgriiFocus open day on 4th July fast approaching, Dr Syed Shah (AgriiFocus R&D Manager) takes a looks at each crop on trial this summer. We look forward to seeing you there!

    Winter Wheat

    We succeeded in getting all our winter wheat trials drilled on 30th and 31st October 2012 at AgriiFocus, Swindon. However, adverse weather conditions (low temperature and poor light) not only had a negative effect on plant survival but also on crop growth and development. Our main priority was to do everything to retain the survived plants, to encourage rooting and to maximise tillering. We decided to apply early nitrogen (50 kg ha-1 in February), (Quark 0.6 l ha-1), Human Extra (1 l ha-1) and Meteor (1.5 l ha-1) in mid March. These treatments and improved weather conditions (warm temperature and sun light) have enabled different varieties to produce tillers and to increase their green leaf area. Most of the varieties have tillered well and there are some interesting differences among varieties in our variety trial at AgriiFocus. Amongst the varieties, Dickens, Crusoe, Gallant, Cocoon and a few new varieties have established well. I would like to invite you to visit our main AgriiFocus day on 4th and (5th) July to look at our various trials on crop nutrition, fungicide programmes, 15 ton challenge trial and various other trials.

    Winter Barley

    Our winter barley plots were drilled on 30th Oct 2012 and unlike the wheat, the plots are looking excellent. Most of the varieties have produced 4 to 6 tillers. There are some interesting differences among conventional and hybrid varieties and I will encourage you to come and visit AgriiFocus on 30th May to look at our winter as well as spring barley trials (30 varieties each). Please contact your local agronomist for further details.

    Oilseed Rape

    Winter oilseed rape trials were drilled on three occasions on 3rd, 13th and 25th September 2012. Most of the trials were drilled on 13th September and have established well, did not suffer much from pigeon damage except a few trials where pigeons caused severe leaf damage. Improved weather condition has resulted in increased crop growth and development and most of the varieties are at BBCH 55. In our variety trial in which we are investigating 84 different oilseed rape varieties, the varieties DK Expower, DK Excellium and Rhino are looking better in terms of green area and growth stage than other varieties. We look forward to seeing you at one of our open days.

  2. R&D Day gives food for future OSR thought

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    Little agronomic differences can add-up to big winter oilseed rape performance benefits when the going gets tough, growers discovered at a specialist research and development day held at our AgriiFocus Technology Centre in Wiltshire in May.

    “One thing this year has really brought home is the critical importance of the best possible establishment,” stressed Agrii head of crop science and stewardship, David Langton. “We’ve seen substantial differences between varieties, systems and treatments here. Big root systems, in particular, have been worth their weight in gold.

    “Our studies show it’s worth considering 30kg/ha of seedbed N; especially with single pass systems which don’t mineralise much nitrogen. And diammonium phosphate (DAP) with the specialist P-Reserve coating to limit lock-up really should become standard to ensure there’s  enough readily available phosphate close to the roots to meet the crop’s massive early demand for the mineral.”

    To further assist rooting, agronomist, Peter Gould pointed to major improvements in crop green area in the Aldbourne plots from either Quark (zinc ammonium acetate) or Nutri-Phyte PGA applied at 3-4 leaves.

    “Being out of sight in the rooting, the benefit of these two treatments only became apparent with spring growth,” he reported. “But they’ve given the crops a particularly valuable head start, the results of which will be very interesting come harvest.

    In the variety plots, OSR specialist, Philip Marr enthused about the value of vigorous, fast developing hybrids like DK Excellium, DK ExPower and Harper.

    “Slow developing varieties have suffered badly,” he explained. “By far the largest proportion  of the crops I’ve had to pull out this season have been slow developers. And of those that have survived most have so many lower buds that will never break dormancy to produce enough side branches to compensate.

    “In contrast, the faster developing hybrids have come through well.  DK Excellium drilled at 25 seeds/m2 is looking especially good, for instance, with a far better structure and lateral development than most. Like almost every crop this year, our better hybrids have got some serious catching-up to do. However, their canopy structure bodes very well for performance. I foresee a lot of people looking to these types this autumn.  After all, I’d far rather have a canopy that needs managing in a growthy season than none at all if we get another like this!”

    While South west agronomist and regional technical adviser, Gary Bosley is equally positive about the ability hybrids offer in uncertain conditions, he insisted they must be carefully managed. By which he means they shouldn’t be put in too early, on high fertility ground or at too high a seed rate.

    “Our work with double PGR programmes last year showed we have the tools to manage large canopies if the season favours them. Even so, I prefer not to be faced with excessive challenges in this respect. So I like to minimise the risk by getting the seed rate, in particular, right.

    Agronomist Andrew Richards sees autumn decisions as remaining the critical factor in winter OSR.

    Stressing that last autumn showed just how damaging a week’s delay in planting can be,
    he urged growers to consider two principle things for the future – how best to minimise the risk of this delay, and what can be done to help make up for it.

    “Minimising the risk really comes down to rotation,” he said. “Perhaps we need to rethink our attitude to winter barley? Or, at the very least, avoiding concentrating too much of our acreage on the late-maturing wheats that have come to dominate the RL in recent years.

    “Alongside this, we need to make up for any delay. This means better variety selection, cultivation system use, seedbed fertilisation, consolidation and early rooting enhancement, amongst other elements of early crop management.

  3. ‘Volatility’ remains at the heart of the grain market in this new era

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    The risk and financial impact on your arable business continues to be dominated by world market volatility. The savage swings in weather patterns around the globe, are proving to pose a consistent threat to production in the major producing regions and affecting what historically have been stable supplies.

    The key to risk management is to accept the inherent nature of price volatility. The essence of uncertainty in the agricultural market is the natural variation in supply inherent in crop markets. We cannot accurately predict crop production figures enough to maintain stable markets making it essential that growers take action to ensure a minimum price that is acceptable against their cost of production.

    Markets live on a daily diet of news of events of which some are predictable and some not, but can still have an effect on the market, making your trading decision hard to assess. There are many ways to look at price risk and how you might manage it including your appetite for risk, the nature of risk, the impact on your business and what tools are available to manage it. There is no one answer as each business is different, but it is important to recognise that whatever Risk Management strategy you employ it should give you the potential to add value as well as protecting against downside. When we look at the current state of our cropping we must remember that the UK only accounts for 2.5% of world wheat production and therefore global influence and the volatility derived from it ultimately dictates our price.

    Moves in price of up to £100/mt clearly demonstrate the effects of such creating a market that can very quickly become ‘One Hot Potato’. Crop Marketing and Risk Management advice form part of Agrii’s portfolio in providing marketing tools that you can use to manage such risk and in some cases linked to exclusive buyback contracts. When employing a strategy to manage risk we would advocate that consideration in adding value where possible also be a priority and not just protecting

    price. By combining these two aspects you can potentially realise additional income per hectare without incurring extra production costs. Contracts that offer Guaranteed Minimum Price, Underpinned Premiums & Min – Max premiums along with niche market contracts for crops such as Vistive HO, LLRape offering premium over and above conventional rape price with bonuses, Milling Wheat for specific markets, Malting Barley, Linseed and Pulse contracts. In summary, your decision making in a volatile environment requires business planning and gaining as much of an understanding of the underlying market forces as possible. Combine this with the tools and contracts available to you and this will minimise your risk and exposure considerably.

    At Agrii we have strategic partnerships and direct links with end consumers and new developing markets. Why not let us help alongside your Agrii agronomist to give you good solid advice to the benefit of your farm business.

  4. Wilton preview from Thomas Goodman

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    With the recent good weather the Wilton iFarm has broken from its winter dormancy, albeit a month later than normal.

    The warmth and sunshine has triggered the growth we so desperately needed, with leaf three half emerged on many of the winter wheat varieties and flowering underway on the oilseed rape.

    Winter Wheat

    • With leaf three half emerged we now turn our attention to a T1 fungicide application, close to a month later than last year. The importance of protecting leaf three in these open canopies cannot be stressed enough, as it could become a significant contributor towards the final yield.
    • Whilst crops are still open it is a good opportunity to target spring emerging broadleaved weeds and any that escaped the autumn residuals.
    • The majority of grass-weeds are now taken care of. The majority of nitrogen has now been applied, with some 40-60kgN/ha kept back for application at flag-leaf GS37, or later for milling premium.

    Winter Oilseed Rape

    • There are a range of crops at various stages of development; early drilled fields are well into flowering. The majority are just beginning to flower and some are still playing catch-up. Canopy management this year has been more site specific than ever before. Wilton iFarm Open Day – 20th June 2013.
    • Varieties – Are you happy with your variety choice this year? Is it time for a change? We have 15 OSR varieties and 17 WW varieties on display to help you make that decision.
    • N :S interaction – How much Sulphur do we need to apply? At our trial site this year we are exploring the important interaction between Nitrogen and Sulphur on both OSR and WW.
    • 15 tonne/ha – Our second attempt to achieve 15t/ha on shallow chalk soil. After last year’s 12.7t/ha performance, can we achieve more this year? Come and judge for yourself. Keep up to date with our progress by following us on Twitter – @15Tonne.
  5. Cotswold preview from Oliver Fairweather

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    The Cotswold Event will be held this year on the afternoon and early evening of Wednesday 10th July at the Cotswold Farm Park. We will be looking closely at the Oilseed Rape variety and establishment plots as we look to see the effects that this seasons un-predictable weather conditions have had on the rape crop and if any varieties have looked to have coped better than others before being taken through to yield by the plot combine.

    Due to the difficult autumn conditions the Winter Wheat plots were not established at the site this year. However, we will be covering a topical update on this and next year’s wheat crop at the event. Replicated spring barley plots have been established at the site for the first time this season after a number of years requesting some yield results from the Cotswold brash soils from our local farmers. We will be taking a look at the plots which were established in the first week of April and discussing varieties, markets and end users. Following the event we would be glad if you would join us for the usual summer BBQ and drinks at the site.

  6. Winter Barley the better choice for oilseed rape entry?

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    Barry Barker – Arable Seed Product Manager


    Has winter barley got a more important role to play in your rotation next season? Varieties have been taking a step forward in yield and straw values remain a very useful extra income source. Plus, the earlier harvest allows the spread of workload and more time to get oilseed rape crops drilled at the optimum time. Hybrid rape varieties are allowing growers a wider drilling window than a few years ago. But, as this last season has shown, sometimes the optimum drilling window is shorter than expected! So what are the varietal choices for growers wanting to switchback to winter barley from winter wheat? The winter malting market has been declining in recent years and whilst older varieties such as Pearl and Flagon are still grown, there are some interesting newer options to consider.

    Conventional Options

    Cassata has the benefit of BaYMV resistance and full IBD approval and is grown both as a malting variety and a feed type. The variety attracting the most interest in this sector is SY Venture but the decision on whether the variety has IBD approval will not be known until the end of May or early June. Yields (from HGCA data) are at least 3% better than Cassata and6% in the East.KWS Cassia has 40% of the conventional winter barley market so will clearly remain the biggest selling variety for another year. But there are some alternatives. KWS Glacier is top of the conventional winter barley yields on a UK basis about 3%above KWS Cassia. In the East it has done particularly well achieving similar levels to Volume the hybrid barley. Disease resistance is generally good and it does have BaYMV resistance. As does California which is a new addition to the list and although yields are similar to KWS Cassia it does have better Rhynchosporium and Net Blotch resistance, is the stiffest variety on the list, a fraction earlier and is a similar height. KWS Glacier is about 6cm shorter. So that straw and disease resistance combination may attract growers wanting a more solid agronomic profile.

    Considering Hybrids?

    In recent years there has been a significant increase in the market share of hybrid barley. Hybrids certainly seem to have the greatest yield potential and recent varieties such as Volume and the newer Galation offer good agronomic packages too. The yield advantages appear to be most noticeable where land is more marginal, but in many cases hybrids have been more consistent in their performance too.

    Plan Early

    It is expected that winter barley sales will increase this year but with crop development being later than normal it is ever more important for growers to get their orders in before the end of July. Production plants will switch over to wheat at the earliest opportunity and most likely will not return to barley production until the 2ndhalf of October.