1 112 PAGES PLUS. BIGGEST EVER ISSUE. 112 PAGES PLUS. BIGGEST EVER ISSUE. 112 PAGES In this issue... Wheat wonder page 40 Secrets behind the 14t crop Pulse promise page 70 Guidance gains page 84 The fundamentals of autosteer Cover crops page 54
3 Volume 16 Number 5 June Talking Tilth A word from the editor. Smith s Soapbox Views and opinions from an Essex peasant.. Cereals provides pointers for post-2015 CAP and blackgrass were hot topics at a sun-drenched Cereals. Making the RL live There s a vast array of data that lies behind the disease ratings on the HGCA Recommended Lists. Plenty of options for the late slot Later drilling dates could provide some much-needed relief against blackgrass, as well as meeting other rotational needs. 22 Pick of the OSR crops Agrii s Philip Marr selects six VARIETY LABS varieties to fend against the loss of neonicotinoid dressings. Tom Allen-Stevens Andrew Blake Andy Collings Julian Cooksley Ted Fleetwood Editor Tom Allen-Stevens Sub editor Charlotte Lord Writers Nick Fone Louise Impey Emily Padfield Martin Rickatson Mick Roberts Design and Production Brooks Design Advertisement co-ordinator Peter Walker Publisher Angus McKirdy To claim two crop protection BASIS points, send an to quoting reference CP/31332/1314/g. *the claim best read specialist arable journal is based on independent reader research, conducted by the National Farm Research Unit 2013 Editorial & advertising sales White House Barn, Hanwood, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY5 8LP Tel: (01743) Reader registration hotline Advertising copy Brooks Design, 24 Claremont Hill, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 1RD Tel: (01743) CPM Volume 16 No 5. Editorial, advertising and sales offices are at White House Barn, Hanwood, Shrewsbury SY5 8LP. Tel: (01743) CPM is published ten times a year by CPM Ltd and is available free of charge to qualifying farmers and farm managers in the United Kingdom. In no way does CPM Ltd endorse, notarise or concur with any of the advice, recommendations or prescriptions reported in the magazine. If you are unsure about which recommendations to follow, please consult a professional agronomist. Always read the label. Use pesticides safely. CPM Ltd is not responsible for loss or damage to any unsolicited material, including photographs A candidate with INSIDERS VIEW widespread appeal? A new winter oilseed rape from breeder DSV. New drive for the digester Hybrid rye is fast becoming the number two crop for biogas. Concerns grow for OSR weeds Growers are finding oilseed rape weeds tougher to tackle, according to the recent BASF/CPM survey of farmers and agronomists. Potential pushed for a barn-busting crop Feeling his way around the barriers that are holding back his wheats has brought a Lincs grower record-breaking crops. No limits for the 15t/ha crop Achieving a crop s full yield potential comes down to ensuring it wants for nothing. The nitrate net Cover crops can harness nitrate, improve soils and reduce soil pests. TECHTALK The root to a perfect INNOVATION INSIGHT weedkiller Roundup s come a long way since it was introduced in the 1970s. Driven to a high-speed concept JCB s Fastrac redefined the concept of a tractor. Peas play an essential role With decades of experience in large blue peas, one farming family in Cambs is achieving a gross margin that rivals a wheat crop. Beet list gets a shake-up The 2015 BBRO Recommended List has one new variety, but has had a number of changes to improve its relevance to growers. Know the drill to beat blackgrass Drill makers at Cereals displayed innovative ideas to help cultural control of blackgrass. Look no hands! The world of autosteer is one that s ironically not easy to navigate, but it s becoming more accessible for those keen to take the plunge. Telematics becomes ON FARM OPINION a natural progression A Lincs arable business progress through various precision farming systems. Won t be picky if the going s tricky A Wilts grower with a disc-equipped cultivator drill that copes in the wet. Gearing up profits parsnip producer A Norfolk veg producer benefits from dual-clutch transmission. Trailed design boosts twin-tine drills capacity The Claydon concept taken to 8m and beyond with a trailed design. crop production magazine june
4 Weed worries turning you grey? Apparently it s a kind of hair dye. You spray it on your resistant blackgrass and it makes it susceptible again. This is work into herbicide resistance, published last year, that originates from the University of York. The clever bit s not actually the hair dye, but the discovery of a gene that acts as a master switch, activating protective mechanisms in a plant. Not only that, but they ve discovered a chemical that can switch it off. But before you rush out, buy up the entire stock of Just For Men from your local Boots and gleefully plaster your blackgrass with it, the actual chemical is incredibly toxic. In fact, it was banned as a hair dye for that very reason. The good news is that this work is being taken on within a 3M four-year BBSRC-funded blackgrass initiative (see p10 for more). And it s not the only possible way out of our resistance conundrum scientists at Monsanto have been working on a new technology platform that does a similar job. Termed RNA Interference, specific strands of RNA can be applied to plants that will then work on specific gene sites. Both technologies are in their infancy around 10 years from commercial reality. But for growers disappearing under a sea of blackgrass, it s reassuring to know that some of the best brains in the industry are innovating solutions, and that resource is being put behind them to fuel the process. It must have been a similar situation over 40 years ago for growers struggling with couch. It was the weed that kept growing back, no matter what you did. The only way to control it was to cultivate repeatedly to dry out the roots and burn them. Then glyphosate came along, and these days you hardly ever come across couch. We ve focused on innovation in this month s CPM, with an Innovation Insight article that explores how Roundup (glyphosate) came about and has evolved into by far the biggest selling herbicide of all time (p64). There s a second Innovation Insight in this issue that looks at another of agriculture s icons the JCB Fastrac. We ve been to the company s HQ to talk to the original design team about their struggle to make the high-speed tractor concept a reality (p94). There were plenty of innovations on show at Cereals earlier this month, and our report highlights the strip-till drills currently on offer (p80). We ve also looked in detail at the remarkable technology available to steer your tractor, and the benefits this can bring (p84). Telematics has brought business benefits for a Lincs grower we ve visited (p88), while a new drill helped a Wilts grower with his autumn schedule in tough conditions (p98). Innovation isn t just about coming up with a new product or piece of technology. When the target is a 15t/ha wheat crop, the innovation lies in bringing a number of concepts together and analysing how they interact. That s been the focus of Agrii s 15t/ha challenge, and we ve explored the concepts and the trials that provide the building blocks for this ambitious target (p48). We ve also been to David Hoyles farm near the Wash, to see how he puts these barn-busting techniques into practice and produces record-breaking crops (p40). Perhaps one obvious way to bring innovation onto to your farm is through a new variety, and we ve looked at the options for late-drilled wheats (p16) and oilseed rapes equipped to handle the restriction on neonicotinoids (p22). Insiders View reviews Recommended List candidate Popular (p28) and we take an in-depth look at hybrid rye (p58). Meanwhile Tech Talk looks in detail at cover crops, and the many benefits these can bring (p54). It was one of the speakers at Cereals who spoke of the current doom and gloom in the industry CAP reform, pesticide resistance and lower prices being among the challenges. Innovators rarely see the doom and gloom they see the challenge, but they recognise there s a solution beyond it. If you see yourself on the side of the innovators, we reckon there s plenty to inspire you within this bumper issue. Tom Allen-Stevens has a 170ha arable farm in Oxon, and reckons his local Boots has about enough Just For Men to treat 0.5ha at 5.75 for a 35g pack. It s worth downloading this one for the name alone the Farm Crap App was developed by Duchy College as a quick way to work out the value of various manures. 4 crop production magazine june 2014
6 Unbeelievable As those who know me will readily testify, I m a quiet unassuming chap who wears his considerable talents and achievements lightly. So it is with some hesitation that I tell you I am the current Pesticide Action Network Bee-friendly farmer of the year. Actually it was awarded in 2012, but seeing as they never bothered with the award again I m assuming it s because my credentials were so overwhelming that they decided it should stay with me ad infinitum so that other farmers would be saved the frustration of applying for the award only to drown in the wake of my bee-friendly brilliance. I mention these considerable environmental credentials when it comes to the welfare of the Apis genus because bloody flea beetle have laid waste to 4ha of my spring oilseed rape and I want neonicotinoids back as soon as possible. Before you say it, I do realise I should have been in faster with the pyrethroids, but the damage was done by the cotyledon munching buggers over a hot week in April when we weren t being vigilant enough. The simple fact is, if I had had Cruiser (thiamethoxam) on the seed I d now have a viable crop, rather than something that will struggle to do over 1t/ha. What really grates is the circumstance by which I lost this key crop production tool (otherwise known as neonics to close friends) which to my simple mind goes something like this: some German scientist tips neonics into a hive and notices the bees start behaving as if they were drunk. Our regulators then get so worried about the horrible thought of slightly drunk bees that they decide to ban not just the practice of tipping neonics into hives, but the practice of having it at miniscule levels in flowering crops. One suspects there are all manner of relatively benign substances from lemonade to chalk dust that you could tip into a beehive and then note the bees started behaving strangely. Not even the British Beekeepers Association want to ban neonics, but for some reasons key politicians such as French minister Stephan Le Foll have come to regard all pesticides with the same fulmination as the Spanish Inquisition viewed devil worship. Apparently Le Foll has placed beehives on his Ministry roof as some sort of statement of faith, just as Torquemada would have had shrines to the Virgin Mary. Such is Le Foll s devotion to the anti-pesticide cause, he has even started threatening French spray operators with a lifestyle that bans them from being seen in daylight. The idea is that spraying can only be done between the hours of bee bedtime and bee waking-up time. So we anticipate a new breed of spray men who, like vampires, will have to be back in their coffins before the dawn breaks over the eastern horizon. We seem to be with bees where we were with birds twenty years ago. Back then, although the British bird population was generally quite stable, the RSPB came up with the ruse of only looking at a handful of bird species whereby the environmental record of agriculture was to be judged. So rather than look across the piece, a blinkered look at a handful of declining species is used to wrongly generalise that there is some sort of avian Armageddon going on out there on British farms. What s extraordinary about the Farmland Bird Index is that it doesn t include blackbird, crow, pheasant and chaffinch which, according to the most recent GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count, are the most common bird species on farms. The other interesting fact is that all four of those species have done quite well over the past 30 years. This might explain why they ve been airbrushed out of official statistics, not unlike Trotsky in the photos of the 1924 Soviet Politburo. your comments and ideas to Guy Smith grows 500ha of combinable crops on the north east Essex coast, namely St. Osyth Marsh officially the driest spot in the British Isles. Despite spurious claims from others that their farms are actually drier, he points out that his farm is in the Guinness Book of Records, whereas others aren t. End of. Museum farming Have you ever been to the Science Museum? Is it just me or do other farmers who walk through the agriculture section suffer the same toe-curling embarrassment not felt since getting a lecture about sex from your mum? Whereas the section on aeronautics traces the development of flight from Kitty Hawk to Boeing 707s, for some reason the agriculture section charts progress but decides, for some bizarre reason, to finish in 1950 with a diorama of a bunch of rural halfwits picking spuds into hessian sacks. Thus the 3.5 million schoolchildren who visit the Science Museum are given the impression we re an industry that has all the hi-tech appeal of bog snorkelling. Time for a letter to the museum director, methinks. 6 crop production magazine june 2014
8 Cereals provides pointers for post-2015 When people are going hungry, you can t take 5% of good land out of production. Almost 25,000 visitors attended a sun-drenched Cereals in Cambs, where recently announced CAP greening measures and blackgrass proved to be the hot topics. By Tom Allen-Stevens and Martin Rickatson Defra has released details on greening criteria that will be required for arable farmers to claim full subsidy payments when the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) comes in next year. Farmers will be able to include pulse crops, cover crops, fallow land, buffer strips and hedgerows within the 5% of their land that they must set aside as Ecological Focus Areas. Speaking at Cereals, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the measures would help farmers comply with idiotic 8 crop production magazine june 2014 changes to a CAP reform he called frankly disappointing. The whole system is morphing from a Common Agricultural Policy into a common environmental policy, which is unworkable. When people are going hungry, you can t take 5% of good land out of production, so how do we square the circle? Nitrogen-fixing He said that allowing nitrogen-fixing crops would be a fairly simple way for farmers to comply, although, if you grow beans, it should be because you want to, not because it s an EFA requirement. Including hedges will be an enormous logistical exercise he warned because it will require every hedge to be accurately measured and mapped, and those farmers wishing to include hedges may be requested to submit claims earlier and may need to expect payments later. Hopefully we ll avoid the complete Horlicks the last government made of the previous CAP reform. NFU president Meurig Raymond said the reforms will set us back many years in farming terms, and pointed particular criticism at the three-crop rule and how this will disadvantage farmers who are block-cropping. It s absolute madness that will force combines and tractors to travel many more miles on roads at busy times than is necessary. With details of the new CAP greening rules being released just prior to Cereals, farm business advisers had only a short Owen Paterson said he had worked hard to remove the worst aspects of a disappointing CAP reform.
10 consider KWS Alderon. There s nothing between it and Belepi Experience Conqueror on yield, but if the weather turns against you, it In Cambs, Paul Drinkwater of the offers more flexibility. You can Abbotts Ripton Farming Company drill when the conditions allow notes that Belepi is ahead of you to. other late drilled wheats on the estate, having reached GS39 by mid-may. Drilled after sugar beet in the second week of Dec, Belepi s ability to outgrow the risk posed by wheat bulb fly larvae is of more interest to him than its reported blackgrass suppression Paul Drinkwater was looking for a capability. crop to outgrow the risk posed by My curiosity is in seeing wheat bulb fly larvae. whether its rapid start can help against wheat bulb fly, which can treatment is our main defence, but be a significant problem here. it seems that growth habit can A variety that tillers strongly and help too. produces plants that are well As far as blackgrass is advanced by the time egg hatch concerned, he places more occurs could be useful. importance on delayed drilling Plant counts suggest that and stacks of pre-emergence it s worked well, as part of an herbicides, than variety. But big, integrated strategy against the broad leaves and strong tillers pest, he reports. A seed could be a bonus. blackgrass levels are much lower, than forcing in a winter variety. Group 1 choice Mulika, for example, has a 60% market share of the spring wheat market and has performed very well, he says. Mulika is a tidy variety. It gets growers a premium and does better than Gallant and Solstice when sown in Jan. In the Group 2 sector, KWS Willow has a yield of 110 and could get some level of premium, he comments. If the whole farm is in feed wheat, Seed rates of spring wheats should be seeds/m 2, he advises. You want to see 250 established plants/m 2. We ve taken seed rates right up to 550 seeds in our trials, but seen no difference in yield so far. But John Blackman cautions against going above 400 seeds/m 2 with a spring wheat variety. There s a danger that the crop will be too thick and produce small ears. You won t get good development at very high seed rates. Latest safe sowing dates winter wheat Group 1 Gallant mid Feb Solstice end Jan Group 2 Panorama mid Feb Cordiale mid Feb Group 3 Invicta mid Feb Scout mid Feb Soft Group 4 Viscount mid Feb Beluga end Jan Alchemy mid Feb Hard Group 4 Conqueror mid Feb JB Diego end Jan Grafton mid Feb 20 crop production magazine june 2014
12 Pick of the OSR crops VARIETY LABS How will the loss of neonicotinoid dressings sway your pick of varieties this year? CPM asks Agrii s Philip Marr to select a half dozen from among the established, newly listed and promising OSR types for Martin Rickatson Fast-starting, early developing varieties will be important. Choosing oilseed rape varieties is no easy task. Combinable crop growers tend to know whether their land can grow malting barley or milling wheat, or is better suited to high-yielding feed types. Selecting an OSR variety is rarely as clear-cut, not least because of the bewildering array of conventionals, semi-dwarfs, hybrids, HOLL and HEAR types that have to be considered with regard to desired agronomic characteristics and intended end market. And that s before aspects such as disease resistance traits can be used to start narrowing down any shortlist. But this season sees an extra dimension added to the mix, with the suspension from the market of neonicotinoid seed dressings complicating matters further. That means fast-starting, early developing varieties will be important, believes Agrii OSR expert Philip Marr. And that s not only because of the neonicotinoid ban, but also because there are fewer slug control options now that methiocarb has gone. Choosing varieties with these characteristics will be a good first step in keeping crops ahead of the threat of potential insect and mollusc damage. But good disease resistance and standing power are also important it s no good picking a potential high yielder if it s going to cost a lot in fungicide treatment. It also needs to be consistent in what it offers. Some varieties are long-standing favourites for a reason Excalibur, for example, has good disease score averages and seems to produce good results regardless of the season. So given this list of desirable traits, what would Philip Marr put on his list of varieties to consider for growers who ve still to place their seed orders? 22 crop production magazine june 2014
14 VARIETY LABS Good disease resistance and standing power are important, as well as a fast, early development and consistency, reckons Philip Marr. Vistive V316OL The introduction of this HOLL variety, an East/West and North HGCA Recommended List candidate for 2014/15, finally brings a good yielder to the healthy oil sector, says Philip Marr. V3106L topped the yield stats in both National List 1 and NL2 trials, with figures 2-3% higher than other varieties, either conventional or hybrid. Wherever I ve seen it, it looks good, and with HOLL premiums getting on for 40/t, switching a proportion of your OSR acreage to it this season may well pay off, particularly if the OSR price drops further. There ll be farmers who ve been put off growing HOLL types because of the yield penalty, but this brings them up to par with ordinary varieties. Its disease ratings are good, and it stands well, with scores of 8.7 for lodging and 7.7 for stem stiffness, he notes. It s a good package for a restored hybrid. If you can source some seed and it may now be in short supply then it s worth a look. Gross output for V316OL in the East/West region is a healthy 105, while oil content is Hybrid breeding has allowed us to not only improve vigour but also make rapid progress in overcoming the yield disadvantage of original HOLL pure lines, says Monsanto/DeKalb OSR breeder Matthew Clarke. That s shown by the fact V316OL is currently a leading RL candidate for both regions regardless of its oil specification. It also scores 7 for both phoma and light leaf spot. 24 crop production magazine june 2014 Advance One of the top RL East/West candidates, conventional type Advance, from independent breeder Mike Pickford, is even earlier to flower than Excalibur, says Philip Marr. It s therefore also early to mature. It produces a compact, tidy-looking crop that s nice and short, and those height and maturity attributes should make for easy harvesting. The variety, marketed by DLF-Trifolium, combines high seed yields with the highest available oil content, of 46.7%. This gives it the best overall output of all the new candidate varieties, and the potential to earn high oil premiums for growers, says the breeder. It s a strong starter with a prostrate growth habit, producing large plants which should aid weed control through plant competition, reckons Philip Marr. In the spring, it s quick to grow away, and coupled with that early flowering and ripening, the resulting crop should help spread harvest, meaning an early start and early follow-up cultivations. Advance is actually one of the shortest conventional OSRs available, at just 132cm tall, says Mike Pickford, but despite that it has one of the highest harvest indices. That s because it produces a high output of seed and oil from a small, compact plant with good all-round disease resistance, he claims. My breeding aim was to incorporate the key characteristics farmers are looking for in an OSR, like earliness and high oil output. Trial results have been sufficiently promising for us to pull seed production forward a year, so farmers keen to drill some this autumn will be able to do so. Advance produces a compact, tidy-looking crop that s nice and short. Harper scores a 9 for phoma stem canker, stands well and produces leaf quickly. Harper Another fast starter, the fully restored hybrid Harper, from Bayer CropScience s breeding programme, also produces leaf very quickly, says Philip Marr. The leaves have a thick cuticle wax, but LLS resistance is only moderate. However, it scores a 9 for phoma stem canker albeit on limited data so will appeal particularly to growers in the south where this is the key autumn disease issue. This strong score should allow for a wider spraying window, particularly useful in a catchy season. Again, it stands well, a trait I think growers should put high up their list of desirables. It limits seed loss both before and during combining, and makes for much easier harvesting. Harper is one of the first fruits of a focus on easy-to-manage varieties at the firm s OSR breeding facility in northern Germany, says Adrian Cottey of Bayer. While many current hybrids suffer from disease susceptibility, lodging risk or quite late maturity, we ve focused on robust stem canker resistance and good standing power, in addition to high yield and high oil percentage. The latter figure is 45.1% for Harper, helping drive overall gross output alongside the yield itself. He also points out that, while it scores only 5 for resistance to LLS, generally seen as a more northern disease in a normal season, it s on a par with many other East/West RL varieties on that front. PT211 With a better disease profile than current favourite PR46W21, the Pioneer restored hybrid PT211, which was accepted last year onto the RL for both UK regions, may start to steal some acreage away from the former variety, believes Philip Marr. Again, it s a variety that s looked well
15 Winter oilseed rape hybrids at a glance V316OL Advance Harper PT211 Amalie Mentor Scope of recommendation Candidate Candidate EW UK NL Candidate Gross output Treated seed yield Oil content (%) Stem canker   Light leaf spot Resistance to lodging Height (cm) Earliness of flowering Earliness of maturity Source: HGCA 2014/15 Recommended List and candidate list; Note: Amalie has completed NL trials and will be considered for entry into RL trials in 2014; Information in table is drawn from different datasets so cannot be used as a reliable comparative guide; [ ] limited data whenever I ve seen it over the past two years, and it offers a number of advantages over PR46, not least of which is better disease resistance, being a point ahead on both LLS and phoma stem canker. While it s a normal height type, it s also shorter in its growth habit, as well as being earlier to harvest, both of which should ease combining. PT211 produces a strong oil content performance of 45.5%, and while its respective fungicide-treated gross output and seed yield figures of 103 and 102 may not set the world alight comparative figures for PR46 are 103 and 101 the advance will be welcomed. The variety also has a much lower glucosinolate level than PR46, down at 10.6 micromoles per gramme of seed, where the older variety has a figure of 12.6, among the highest on the 2014/15 RL. While its scores for the two key OSR diseases, LLS and phoma stem canker, are only a point above those for PR46W21, and the phoma figure is based on limited data, those numbers represent a solid mid-table performance and a welcome step forward, claims the breeder. Amalie For those particularly concerned by the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments and the impact of aphids and the turnip yellows virus (TuYV) they convey, new Limagrain conventional type Amalie may be worth considering, suggests Philip Marr. It has single-gene resistance to TuYV, and so offers another way of insuring against the potential effects of insect damage, he says. In the absence of Cruiser (thiamethoxam)
16 Amalie has single-gene resistance to TuYV and has now completed National List trials. and Modesto (clothianidin+ beta-cyfluthrin), it may well be worth trying for those who want to spread risk. The mild Feb-March period of this year, which was particularly conducive to aphid activity, showed what a threat they can be in such weather. But I m keen on fastdeveloping types, it has to be said that this isn t among them. To compensate, it needs to be in the ground by the end of Aug at the very latest. In that respect, though, it makes a good variety with which to follow winter barley. Amalie has now completed NL1 and 2 trials, says Limagrain. It offers a treated yield score of only 100, according to NL data, but has strong disease characters, with a 7 for LLS and an 8 for phoma stem canker. Then, of course, there s the TuYV resistance to factor in, says the firm s Lee Robinson. HGCA research suggests TuYV is probably the most important, yet least understood, viral disease of OSR in the UK, and one of the principal reasons commercial OSR crops don t reach their genetic yield potential. Mentor Where clubroot was once considered a problem limited mainly to the northern half of the UK, widespread and intensive OSR growing means soils infected by the pathogen are now found across a far wider area of the country, notes Philip Marr. For growers seeking a clubroot-resistant variety in order to help them continue growing OSR, Cracker remains the benchmark, but the new LSPB candidate variety Mentor is likely to gradually take its place, offering as it does a significant yield benefit. It s also slightly shorter in its growth habit. LLS is an issue though in order to be recommended for the north, it requires a 6 rating, and so far it has received only a 5. But I don t see that as a big hurdle, and with the appropriate fungicide programme it should perform well. According to LSPB s Craig Padley, Mentor offers not only improved yield over Cracker, but better LLS resistance too. Cracker has for some time been a dependable mainstay variety for OSR growers faced with clubroot and LLS issues, he says. But our latest monitoring, particularly in the North East, shows that while its clubroot benefit remains, it s resistant rather than immune to LLS. While it ll still exhibit reasonable resistance, that shouldn t be relied on, with regular checking a necessity, and spraying where required. Now that Cracker s major gene resistance is no longer effective, Mentor represents a new alternative, with both improved yield and a higher level of quantitative resistance. With clubroot resistance, Mentor offers a significant yield boost over Cracker. 26 crop production magazine june 2014
18 A candidate with widespread appeal? INSIDERS VIEW A new winter oilseed rape from breeder DSV looks to have plenty going for it bar the fact that it s not yet officially recommended. CPM relays views on Popular. By Andrew Blake Farmers won t be disappointed with Popular. That s the verdict from Lee Bennett of Openfield. It s the best variety DSV have produced to date, with better yield and agronomy characters than all their current and preceding material, he says. 28 crop production magazine june 2014 Popular offers growers the chance to diversify and spread their risks alongside varieties from the likes of Dekalb and Pioneer without compromising on output, standing power or disease resistance, he adds. However, as a candidate to be considered for addition to the HGCA Recommended List this autumn, Popular isn t yet fully proven in large scale production in the UK, points out Hutchinsons Peter Brundle. High gross output With that proviso, he describes the variety as unique in combining high gross output with short plant height, good resistance to lodging, and compact growth habit for easier harvesting. A restored hybrid, Popular (coded WRH410) has a rated gross output of 106 and 109 in fungicide-treated trials for the East/West and North regions respectively, according to the HGCA s summaries of National List and BSPB trials. By comparison Growers considering growing Incentive are easily convinced of Popular and its benefits. the restored hybrid control of Excalibur is rated only 95 and 99, and DK Cabernet 101 and 99. Popular combines all the best attributes, maintains DSV UK s Sales and Marketing Manager Mike Mann. It has high oil content, excellent stem characters and very good disease resistance. It s another move forward in oilseed rape genetics. It does everything very well. It s very similar to Incentive, but with better phoma resistance, higher oil content and it s slightly shorter in non-pgr trials. There are many growers looking for varieties that combine these sorts of attributes. According to Lee Bennett, both Popular s
19 seed yield and oil content are higher than Incentive s, and that s the variety which currently heads the RLs in both regions. It s rated 9 for lodging resistance and 7 for phoma, which is as good as it gets without RLM7 resistance. Having a 9 for standing with a relatively short height would make it a logical alternative to the semi-dwarfs. It s very stiff straw should complement all DeKalb varieties and mitigate any lodging risk as their material can tend towards being a bit soft, especially Expower. Phoma rating Given its strong phoma rating, which comes from a different genetic background to RLM7, growers wouldn t increase their risk of exposure to stem canker by growing Popular alongside varieties with RLM7, he explains. Many other RL varieties, for instance Incentive and Charger, score only 4 for resistance to stem canker. Popular combines high gross output, very high oil content and solid disease resistance with vigorous growth characteristics, says Peter Brundle. Its stiff straw and compact growth habit make it a good choice for heavier soils, exposed sites and more fertile conditions. It s a shorter and better all-round disease package than previous DSV varieties, while retaining high gross output and excellent winter hardiness. DSV breed only hybrids, the targets being relatively short, stiff plants with high gross output, notes Mike Mann. Popular is a key step in this development. One attribute not assessed for the RL is vigour, notes Lee Bennett. What s the point of a low vigour hybrid? It s one of the key factors I look for alongside all other output and quality traits. In every one of our own trials Popular as been in the top three for autumn and spring vigour. So where might growers need to adjust their agronomy to get the best from the variety? I m not sure it needs any tweaking really, he says. If its spring vigour really does romp away in any given season, it always has its 9 for lodging and short canopy to fall back on. Other taller varieties with less stiff straw all too often require chemical intervention, such as Caryx or triazoles, to manipulate the canopy and mitigate some of the risk of lodging. I can t see any need for this in Popular. Indeed, I think it would be hard Both Popular s seed yield and oil content are higher than Incentive s, points out Lee Bennett. for newcomers to make mistakes with this variety. However DSV s UK trials manager John Sweatman points out that it ll be important to time Popular s swathing or desiccation correctly to preserve its high oil content. With a 9 for standing and a relatively short height, Popular would be a logical alternative to the semi-dwarfs. crop production magazine june
20 Growers sought to help with 3M blackgrass project The full might of the UK s weed science research has been brought together to tackle blackgrass. Launched at Cereals, the 3M blackgrass initiative is 90% funded by BBSRC and promises to unravel herbicide resistance in blackgrass from gene to field. Work starts this summer, and the research team, that includes experts from Rothamsted Research, Newcastle University and Sheffield University, are keen to enlist the help of growers who have problems with blackgrass. We ve identified six key regions, from Oxon up to Yorks and across to Norfolk, explained Dr Paul Neve of Rothamsted Research. We want around 10 farms in each region where we ll monitor blackgrass populations over the course Rob Edwards has already identified one of the genes that confers resistance, and a chemical route that makes the plant susceptible again. of the project. We ll also collect seed samples from these fields and test their resistance status. While we re doing detailed monitoring on a relatively small number of farms, we re keen to involve as many growers as possible in the project, so would like anyone with blackgrass issues to get in touch. As well as taking samples and mapping the blackgrass populations, researchers will look for a detailed history of how the weed has been managed. We ll keep details confidential, assured Paul Neve. This forms one of five work packages, which include one sphere of work exploring the fundamental mechanisms by which plants develop resistance, led by Prof Rob Edwards of Newcastle University. We ve already identified one of the genes that plays a key role in conferring resistance, and discovered a chemical route that effectively knocks out that gene and makes the plant susceptible to herbicides again, he explained. While this is too toxic to be used as an agrochemical, it does suggest that this sort of resistance has an Achilles heel with the hope that we may identify a safer natural product that will act as a synergist within the plant to suppress the phenotype and drive down resistance. Samples of blackgrass taken from the field will build understanding of how the resistance mechanism in blackgrass operates, and work will be carried out to study the genetics that lies behind it. Paul Neve is keen to involve as many growers as possible in the project. Initially it s hoped the research will bring forward a diagnostic tool that ll flag up resistance before it becomes a problem to help growers manage it. Other work within the project looks at weed population modelling, environmental and economic costs, and developing agronomic advice and procedures to control resistant blackgrass. There s no silver bullet for blackgrass resistance any novel technical solution is still at least 5-10 years away, noted Paul Neve. But in the meantime, we hope that through working with farmers in the project we can develop solutions together that ll improve management and control of the problem. Any grower who wishes to be involved should period in which to digest the information and provide some pointers for farmers seeking advice on how their businesses would be affected. Much of the update on EFAs was welcome, suggested Philip Dunn, of Brown and Co, but he urged farmers to prepare themselves well before autumn 2015 for what is to come, and said there were still some questions to be answered. While, for example, we re still seeking clarification on whether it ll be possible to carry out weed control operations on fallowed land, it s pleasing to now see clarity in other areas, such as the inclusi on of hedges in EFA scores. But farmers are required to measure those hedges themselves, and precision is crucial to ensure they don t fall foul of inspections, which will double from 5% to 10% as a result of this provision.
21 The BPS receipt delays due to hedgerow inclusion could push the payment window from Dec 2015 to June 2016, he warned. This will cause significant cash flow problems in businesses which are already feeling the pressure of significant deflation in commodity prices. Philip Dunn also warned of the difficulties posed to hedge-free fenland farmers by the confirmation that ditches, ponds and wooded areas wouldn t contribute to EFAs. They ll have to seriously consider the prospect of taking prime arable land out of production. But he welcomed the decision to include nitrogen-fixing crops in EFAs in most situations. Our concern was that there would be restrictions on the crop protection products that could be used on these, but DEFRA has confirmed that this won t be the case. However, with nitrogen-fixing crops also permitted as a third crop under the three-crop rule, Philip Dunn foresaw a large increase in the areas grown for harvest 2015, with an associated effect on the market. Farmers will need to factor this into their budgets. And because seed supplies are very likely to be tight next season, anyone already growing such crops would be well advised to save some seed this harvest. Look out for the implications of a large increase in the area grown to nitrogen-fixing crops. Bayer launches UK wheat breeding programme Bayer CropScience is to start wheat variety testing from this autumn and aims to get its first variety into National List trials within two years. Initially these will be conventionally bred, but our target is to move into hybrids, said UK managing director Andrew Orme, making the announcement at Cereals. Better known for its crop protection products, the German-based multinational claims to be the global leader in canola (oilseed rape), cotton, hybrid rye and vegetables. It has a wheat-breeding programme in Germany and France, and its first hybrid winter OSR to reach the HGCA Recommended List did so in Dec last year. Beyond pledging to breed for maximum yield with reduced inputs, there s very little else Bayer has revealed about its breeding programme, however. Plans had been fast-tracked, said Andrew Orme, and the move represented a significant investment by Bayer of millions, rather than hundreds of thousands. There are no plans to develop GM varieties, although the company claims it s ready for the future. We think there are great benefits from delivering all sorts of new technology through the seed not just GM, although that will depend more on the politics than the science. crop production magazine june
22 Making the RL live There s a vast array of data that lies behind the disease ratings on the HGCA Recommended Lists. CPM finds out what s being done to increase access to it and build more value for growers. By Tom Allen-Stevens For decades, the HGCA Recommended Lists have formed the basis of variety decisions on disease for UK growers. It s likely the first thing you d hear about a new wheat variety after its name, group and yield performance is its yellow rust or septoria rating. Once on farm, a variety s disease ratings underpin the season s spraying schedule you may even feel safe enough with what the RL says about relative disease performance to plan and prioritise programmes around it. But is the RL worthy of such a high level of trust? Nationally, there s potentially a huge level of crop loss that depends on good disease management, notes Dr Jenna Watts of HGCA. With the potential loss of chemistry and build-up of pathogen resistance, growers are ever more dependent on reliable sources of 12 crop production magazine june 2014 information on which to base their decisions. That s why there s considerable resource that goes into the ratings on the RL, and it s easy to underappreciate just how much work is involved. Even so, the RL is limited in what it can currently deliver. It s important to bear in mind that RL data is historical the current season won t be built into the ratings, and it won t tell you about the disease pressure your crops are facing. Warrior race And it s not until the system breaks down that it becomes apparent just how much it s relied on this happened in 2011 when the new Warrior yellow rust race turned disease ratings upside down and exposed a potential Achilles heel. Through the standard RL disease monitoring, it s very difficult to pick up these changes. But there was robust monitoring, through the UK Cereal Pathogen Virulence Survey (UKCPVS), for example, that had picked it up. Growers received the information they needed, but it did highlight a requirement for more regular updates. That s been the basis of some recent initiatives that are adding a live, in-season element to the benchmark RL data. We re doing our own regular disease monitoring of untreated trials at some RL sites in addition to the work undertaken to compile the RL data. It makes sense to make this information available to growers within Although the RL is robust, you cannot slavishly rely on it. the season, notes Jenna Watts. And what a season it s been to introduce such a service by the end of May, septoria for example was threatening to wreak havoc on crops across the UK that generally have a high yield potential, she reports. Monitoring towards the end of May showed the top leaves were still clear, but heavy symptoms on leaves lower down the crop canopy. There s a very high risk, depending on what the weather does, and still a lot riding on decisions that are taken between now and when the crop senesces. Such a season may be tricky for growers to manage, but it feeds a valuable array of data into the RL system, according to Dr Simon Oxley of HGCA, who manages the RL and the network of cereal and oilseed trials that lie behind it. The disease ratings are calculated using 3-5 years data from untreated UK trials. Where we ve a large dataset, such as for Septoria tritici, or where there s the potential for changes in pathogen race, such as for rusts, data from three seasons are used, he explains. With 64 winter wheat untreated trials, each given five or six assessments every year, this builds into a very thorough picture of how the varieties perform, he notes. An important part of this is the data validation. HGCA employs NIAB to validate the
23 Jenna Watts reckons it s easy to underappreciate just how much work goes into the disease ratings on the Recommended Lists. analysed data to make sure there are no surprises and to investigate any that are thrown up. Where there s very little disease, that data is valid but not used as part of the calculations as it doesn t highlight varietal differences. The mean severity over a number of years is calculated for each disease in each variety. Those with the highest and lowest disease severity are used to set fixed points from which to compare other varieties (see chart on page 14). Once current RL varieties have been plotted, candidate varieties can be lined up and given a 1-9 score. You can compare this year s ratings to last year s, and the varieties should line up, but if they don t, you know something s happened and it warrants further investigation. Resistance breakdown Disease resistance breakdown as a result of a new rust race is a typical cause. That s where the UKCPVS helps us validate the data. Where a variety has been resistant in years one and two, but confirmed as susceptible in year three to a new race which has become widespread, we ll discard the earlier data and it ll be the most recent score that s carried forward. As well as replicated, untreated trials, data is drawn from single replicate disease observation plots and inoculated, replicated trials, explains Simon Oxley. The inoculated trials are particularly valuable when assessing how varieties perform under high disease pressure. Decisions on which isolates to use in the rust trials are made by the UKCPVS to ensure that they re representative of the current UK populations. When a new race is suspected, the pathogen is bulked up and seedlings inoculated often before it s actually confirmed as such. This is an important part of the validation, he notes. In its first year, a new rust race may be identified in some regions, but not all. Before we start changing ratings and including the race in inoculated RL trials, we have to be sure it will become endemic. So what happened in 2011? As the Warrior race took hold, the monitoring work correctly identified the change in varietal susceptibility, and this information was disseminated to growers through HGCA Topic Sheets. This ensured we had robust There are 64 winter wheat untreated trials, each given five or six assessments every year, which build a picture of how the varieties perform.
24 A thorough validation system ensures a robust and reliable set of data, maintains Simon Oxley. data for current RL varieties, but not for candidates, since at the time, they weren t included in inoculation trials in the UKCPVS, which focusses on new races. That s a change we ve made as a result, so growers can be confident the ratings on the current RL and through any Topic Sheet updates are robust. But the RL system is set up to cater for potential changes in septoria populations, points out Simon Oxley. All varieties susceptibility will shift from year to year as pathogen populations evolve, and since the data is relative in any one year, the RL will remain a true picture of a variety s relative susceptibility. It s just worth noting that an effective chemical strategy for a variety with a score of 6 for septoria five years ago may not be as effective as one you d use these days for a variety with the same score. Fungicide performance against Septoria tritici is tested in HGCA Fungicide performance research, Calculation of RL disease ratings for individual varieties High and low disease points (blue diamonds) are calculated from the mean disease severity of established RL varieties, then other varieties are plotted (red dots) to work out their rating. 14 crop production magazine june 2014 Research round-up HGCA project 3752, Recommended Lists , encompasses the on-going trials work undertaken to produce the RL. Part of the work is varietal disease resistance which aims to give varieties a disease resistance rating on a scale from 1 (least resistant) to 9 (most resistant). The HGCA Recommended List is managed and co-funded by a project consortium consisting of BSPB, HGCA, MAGB and nabim. Its annual cost to HGCA is 1.26 million. HGCA project , HGCA Disease Monitoring Network 2014, runs from April to Sept It aims to monitor naturally occurring disease on existing winter wheat, winter barley however, which is updated annually. The relative importance of all diseases and how they re conveyed through the RL are kept under constant review, he adds. Light leaf spot in oilseed rape is a good example the cut-off criteria for the northern list is 6, and a variety with a score below this won t get on. But for the East/West list it s 3 although that s currently up for discussion. Standard protocol Ramularia ratings are now given for spring barley varieties, but not for winter types. We have to be confident that trials operators aren t only aware of the disease but can assess it to a standard protocol which allows us to build up a robust dataset before we offer ratings. This is proving a challenge with verticillium wilt, he reports. It s likely inoculated trials will be the way forward, but we ve yet to decide when will be the right time to assess varieties due to the sporadic nature of the disease in a trial. But one step Simon Oxley is taking is to offer growers greater access to regional data gathered through the RL trials. It can be important for certain diseases rhynchosporium behaves differently in Scotland to how it does in the west of England, for example. It should be possible to cluster RL trials on a regional basis, so you can get a clearer understanding of how a variety will perform in your area. It won t be as robust as the national data, but it will represent a good comparison with commercial information, for example, and I m keen to ensure growers make more use of the RL data. We can t make the sun shine, but we can help explain what happens to particular varieties when it doesn t. And a clearer picture of this is quite literally what another change to the RL trials and winter oilseed rape untreated trial plots in England and Scotland in Carried out in house by HGCA, its cost is 12,506. HGCA project 3802, Provision of a weather station network for HGCA Recommended List variety trial field sites, runs from Nov 2012 to Oct It aims to provide weather data for RL core trial sites, add value to the RL and increase its value as a research tool. Led by Agrii, its cost is 118,218, funded by HGCA. The HGCA Disease Monitoring platform can be accessed by clicking on the link under Disease Monitoring at is now bringing. Under a new four-year project that started in Nov 2012, a network of weather stations has been set up, feeding back data that can be directly related to disease progression. As well as rainfall, temperature, humidity and sunshine levels, we re also monitoring soil moisture and temperature, and leaf wetness information that s hard to get from standard monitoring stations, notes Dr Paul Gosling of HGCA, who oversees the network. There are 31 weather stations in total, including one in Northern Ireland. All are at RL trials sites, apart from an additional station at the Cereals event site in Cambs and one in Cornwall. The network is managed by Agrii, with data collected daily and sent back to HGCA. It s been a steep learning curve setting There are 31 weather stations in total, across the UK, at RL trials sites, one at the Cereals event site in Cambs and one in Cornwall.
25 With the website now set up, a review will take place in Sept, and HGCA is looking for feedback from growers on the service itself. up the network, ensuring all the stations are in the correct place and that the technology works correctly, reports Paul Gosling. We now have one full season s data and can start to decide how to make best use of it. The ultimate aim is to assess disease risk within each season, using modelling work and knowledge of disease progression at the trials sites. The phoma forecast is a very good example of a useful service this network can provide. Having weather data alongside good, trials-based disease data puts us in a very strong position to bolt on some valuable services. Additional assessments One that s been bolted on this year is a disease-monitoring service, notes Jenna Watts. Additional assessments of levels f disease have been sent back by trials operators at a sub-set of winter wheat, barley and OSR RL sites, with the information gathered and commentary being made available to growers through the HGCA website ( We get the information weekly on a Wednesday, and update the website by Friday. For each site, it gives you the latest on disease progress, according to variety risk group, alongside a summary of the weather data and a brief commentary, she notes. This brings growers an accurate in-season picture of how disease is developing that s directly related to the RL ratings. It s also a valuable tool for The ultimate aim is to assess disease risk within each season, using modelling work and knowledge of disease progression at the trials sites, notes Paul Gosling. research, and will feed into projects developing new disease-forecasting tools. An important part of the project will be to assess the value of this new information drawn from the RL trials, and what further services can be built in, she adds. A review will take place in Sept, and we re also looking for feedback from growers on the service itself. Growers already rely on the RL for robust, national data on variety performance, and we re hoping they ll shape how the data can be personalised to become more regional and current. Good interpretation as important as the data itself In a normal year, Peter Riley of Prime Agriculture would advise his clients not to draw too many conclusions from untreated trials until July. That s not the case this year, however, he states. By the start of June the levels of disease we were seeing in untreated crops were very apparent you can see quite clearly where the differences lie. Having reliable, independent and robust data to draw on when making decisions about varieties is crucial, he feels. That s what you get with the RL, and there s sufficient volume of information for you to pick out the strengths and weaknesses of varieties those differences invariably play out in the field. But proper interpretation of the data is equally crucial, he stresses. In the first instance, we d assess the suitability of a variety by the farm situation septoria ratings may be less of a priority for a grower in the East with plenty of sprayer capacity, for example. But where the sprayer is stretched, and especially with an early sown crop, we d look for a better disease package. The tricky one to judge is yellow rust. We ve seen how a new rust race can come in, so that what appeared on paper to be a strong resistance clearly wasn t by the end of the season. Although the RL is robust, it shows you cannot slavishly rely on it, and it s where the value of a professional advisor to interpret in-season information really pays dividends. This is where the new monitoring and reference data coming through from the RL sites will help, he believes. Real-time information from the trial sites will be very useful the RL is by its very nature at least a year out of date. But that data must still be interpreted correctly for the individual farm and situation. The weather data, and how these relate to disease development in a season, will be particularly valuable I m constantly referring back to specific conditions to learn how they ve Peter Riley will be using the weather data to learn how disease has developed within a season. affected the progress of a disease, so having a reliable source of this information will help our understanding of diseases as they develop new challenges for us. crop production magazine june
26 Plenty of options for the late slot Getting to grips with later drilling dates could provide some much-needed relief against blackgrass, as well as meeting other rotational needs. CPM asks which varieties should be grown in this position. As much as 20% of the UK winter wheat area is estimated to be late sown. Root crops in the rotation, bad blackgrass, weather delays and rotational issues are all reasons, although the EU s three-crop rule might yet create another one. Whatever the situation, the two most common questions asked by growers By Louise Impey are how late can they drill a winter wheat and how early can they drill a spring wheat, reports independent breeder John Blackman. There s some work done as part of the HGCA s Recommended List, which looks at spring wheats sown in the late autumn, alongside some winter wheat varieties, he says. And while that information is useful, it doesn t provide all the answers. That s because the late autumn sowing date in the trials is the beginning of Nov, he points out. But all too often, the late sowing slot after root crops can run into Jan and beyond. So it would be useful to look at drilling dates beyond Nov and into the start of the following year, comparing spring and winter types. And it would also be helpful if growers could look at the results of spring wheat varieties sown from Oct onwards. They often offer comparable results, but bring more flexibility. Coincidentally, Agrii s Colin Lloyd reveals that the company s current trials work is looking at some of those dates identified by John Blackman. It s the difference between sustainable and unsustainable wheat production and the only variable was drilling date. 16 crop production magazine june 2014
27 Growers need to look beyond the HGCA Recommended List for all the answers on late-sown wheat, reckons John Blackman. We ve drilled spring wheats at the end of Oct, shoulder to shoulder with winter varieties, and we ve repeated that in March. For the increasing number of growers who are going to be drilling later, it ll help them to identify varieties that are suitable. For those farms without root crops, all the interest in later sowing has come about because of blackgrass, stresses Colin Lloyd. Growers are running into major problems with the weed and most of them have blocks of land that need to be drilled later, for this reason alone. Blackgrass ability to keep germinating means that using stale seedbeds to force a flush of it in early Sept is only part of the solution, he explains. Depending on conditions, there s then another major flush in the third week of Sept and a further one in early Oct. That s fine if you haven t drilled yet, but there s a huge amount of wheat drilling done by the end of Sept. Blackgrass rife A trial conducted by Agrii at its Stow Longa trials site, where blackgrass is rife, shows the difference that drilling date can make, he continues. In this particular case we used Solstice, which isn t the most competitive variety. One block was drilled on Sept 27 and the other on Nov 1. Due to the blackgrass burden, the Sept-drilled block yielded just 2.89t/ha, while the later sown block achieved 8.56t/ha. It s the difference between sustainable and unsustainable wheat production and the only variable was drilling date. While any winter wheat variety can be drilled until the end of Jan, several can wait until mid-feb and a few until the end of Feb although they won t be very competitive, he comments. It s a great shame if a grower buys a certain variety and then runs out of time to In the Stow Longa trials, Sept-drilled Solstice suffered from the blackgrass burden yielding just 2.89t/ha, while the Nov-drilled block yielded 8.56t/ha. crop production magazine june
28 Those with bad blackgrass might be better off drilling a spring wheat, than forcing in a winter variety, notes Colin Lloyd. get it in the ground. That s why the true spring wheats often represent a better solution. Colin Lloyd adds that spring wheats have come a long way. There s been a turning point. You only have to look at the late sown Recommended List to see their value. These newer spring wheats are robust, competitive and some have good grain quality, he notes. You might be better off drilling one of these in the spring, when blackgrass levels are much lower, than forcing in a winter variety. Group 1 choice Mulika, for example, has a 60% market share of the spring wheat market and has performed very well, he says. What should you look for in a late-sown variety? Look for quality, so that any yield loss can be offset by a premium, recommends John Blackman. By sowing later, there s less time for effective grain fill, he says. That s why many winter wheats suffer from low specific weights when they re drilled late. The spring wheats, however, develop more rapidly and tend to produce a better grain sample, he continues. It s one of the reasons why Mulika has become so popular. It brings yield and premium, regardless of drilling date. Orange wheat blossom midge resistance is also helpful, he believes. Whether the pest will strike is a total guess on spring wheat. For the past three years, midge has been very late and it has caught the spring crops. Not having to treat a bread-making wheat with chlorpyrifos is a bonus, he adds. Competitiveness is another valuable characteristic, he suggests. We know that Look for quality, competitiveness and orange wheat blossom midge resistance. there are winter varieties like KWS Santiago which are very competitive and can be used against blackgrass. But there s also an alternative in Belepi, a soft wheat variety which has a slight vernalisation requirement, so doesn t fit into either the winter or spring wheat categories on the Recommended List. Belepi is listed as a winter wheat in France, but it can be sown from Oct through until early April. Providing you don t sow it too early and make best use of stale seedbeds, it can be used very effectively against blackgrass. Belepi s very rapid development in the spring is its key strength, he suggests. It s winter dormant. In the spring, it starts to grow very quickly and manages to swamp blackgrass, by forming a closed canopy before the weed grows vertically. The variety is leafy and vigorous, with good tillering ability, and produces a yield equivalent to the current top Group 3s. It also offers early maturity, a characteristic which has been in demand in recent years, he notes. What about hybrid barley? Competitiveness against blackgrass is just one of the reasons why sales of hybrid barley are rising, says James Taylor-Alford of Syngenta. The 70,000ha of Hyvido varieties currently in the ground represents around 20% of the winter barley area, he reports, with 23,000ha of that being entered for the cash-back yield guarantee scheme launched last year. As a result, the yield guarantee will be repeated this coming season, so that growers get the best from their crops. At the same time, Syngenta is working with HGCA, in order to find a way of getting hybrid barleys accurately represented on the Recommended List. We re hopeful of re-entering them. But it s important that their on-farm potential can be expressed by the testing system. A 0.92t/ha yield benefit over conventional two-row feed varieties has been achieved across 32 sites monitored by Syngenta, he reports, thanks to the better tillering ability, higher spring vigour and enhanced rooting system of hybrids. Growers are choosing hybrid barley over second wheat, he notes. And it s not just for the economic benefits. There are workload and management advantages, as well as its usefulness in bad blackgrass situations, where the chemical options are dwindling. Hybrid barley needs to be drilled by the end of Oct, he advises, so it isn t an option for later sowing dates, but it does have the characteristics that a variety needs to out-compete blackgrass. The broad leaf area and vigorous tillering, typical of hybrid barley, smother weeds in the spring, he explains. It s one of the reasons behind the grower interest. For the forthcoming season, hybrid barley seed will be sold at the same price as last year, he adds. The cash-back guarantee will be repeated for the coming season and the seed cost will be the same, assures James Taylor-Alford. 18 crop production magazine june 2014
30 INSIDERS VIEW There s only a limited quantity of seed available this year, says Michael Mann, who s expecting its key year will be Its good straw characters mean it can cope with fertile situations, says Michael Mann. However I d still recommend a PGR as it helps with canopy formation as well as reducing biomass for easier, quicker harvest. Its disease resistance is good, but appropriate fungicides will, as with all varieties, still be needed. There s only a limited quantity of seed available this year, so we ve no big market share potential or aspirations. Presuming it performs as expected in trials and on farm, the key year will be Seed availability is very limited, agrees Lee Bennett. We re 75% sold, the main takers being large farmers growing it alongside Extrovert. Historic users of Troy and Pioneer semi-dwarfs are also moving to it, as well as historic Compass and Avatar users. Easily convinced Growers considering growing Incentive are easily convinced of Popular and its benefits and will readily order it instead. David Waite, Frontier Agriculture Seed Manager, says the firm is having discussions with DSV about becoming involved with Popular. Looking at the data I d say it was a sound hybrid variety with good stiff stems. Current yield data (2 years NL) might suggest Popular, as well as several other candidates, lags behind Incentive a little, so an automatic recommendation would be unlikely. However, it does score much better for phoma/stem canker and this could well be its redeeming character. Popular at a glance Gross output (% control) Treated seed yield Oil content (%) 46.3 Resistance to lodging 8.5 Stem stiffness 7.8 Height (cm) 143 Earliness of flowering 5.4 Earliness of maturity 5.9 Light leaf spot 6.3 Stem canker 6.9 Source: 2014 HGCA Recommended List Candidate varieties East/West region Popular has a 7 for phoma, which is as good as it gets without RLM7 resistance. Popular in top trio in commercial Cotswold trial Mike Dewar, farm manager of Stowell Park Estate on top of the Cotswolds, hosted a commercial strip trial for Openfield in We re growing about 1200ha of arable crops and oilseed rape, at around 300ha, makes a significant contribution. Over the past few years we ve moved towards hybrids with a large proportion of the crop sown to varieties such as PR46W21, PT211, DK Extrovert, and Avatar, he says. We also have a small area of Quartz, as well as an area of high erucic acid (HEAR) OSR in the rotation. The trial, which consisted of 18 varieties (see chart right), was drilled in early Sept on an exposed site on Costwold brash using a Topdown fitted with a Biodrill seeder. Each variety plot was 6m wide and about 250m long. Drilling was a little later than planned but the crop established well and was taken to yield having received the same inputs as that applied to the surrounding crop of Quartz. The trial generally performed well, despite the winter conditions and a heavy burden of cleavers, with the better-performing varieties producing a respectable 4t/ha. In general, the 30 crop production magazine june 2014 hybrids did far better than the conventional types and there were big differences in oil content. While it s difficult to comment on individual varieties based on just one unreplicated trial, it gave us a useful insight as to how the RL candidates can be expected to perform on our land, he adds. This coming autumn has thrown up a lot of uncertainty with the lack of neonicotinoid seed treatments. Flea beetle is a particular problem on our brashy land, and we can remember the Velcourt Strip Trials, 2013 Stowell Park, Cotswolds Gross output 9% MC) Gross output (t/ha) Oil content (%) Diffusion DK Extrovert Popular Incentive Compass Harper PT211 PR46W21 Combiner Attletick Ginfizz Avatar Quartz Fletcher Troy NK Grandia DK Cabernet lengths that we had to go to before insecticide seed treatments were introduced. There s no doubt that we re going to have to focus on achieving finer seedbeds and more consolidation after drilling. Seed rates may have to be revised upwards and there s every chance we ll have to be out with the sprayer before the crop has even emerged. We might even have to change our rotation to give us more time to create better OSR seedbeds Oil content (%) The 18 varieties grown in the commercial strip trials performed well, despite difficult conditions in autumn Source: Openfield
31 Candidate varieties undergo more extensive trialling in the third year, including additional tests for disease resistance, notes Simon Oxley. So how cautious should growers be when considering such a novel variety? Data on Popular and the 14 other RL candidates for each region is already available in the HGCA RL PocketBook( media/425499/rlrp1415- winter-oilseed-rape-pocketbook.pdf) and on the HGCA website, notes Simon Oxley of HGCA. Additional tests Varieties are selected as candidates after two years of minimal trialling, but are only recommended after three years of independent trialling. In the third year, the trialling is more extensive with 20 trials throughout the UK plus additional tests for disease resistance. Analysing the data on variety performance over three seasons from rials over a diverse geographic spread puts a new variety to the test in different environments. This provides growers with an independent evaluation of a new variety, both against well established varieties and other newcomers. Once on the RL, the testing continues, which provides growers with the assurance the variety remains competitive and that any changes in crop characteristics including resistance to disease are kept up to date. Popular and all the other candidates will be considered for recommendation in Nov. Recommendation will be based on a bigger set of data including the data already available plus new information from this year s trials. The key requirement for addition to the list is that a variety has a balance of features that are sufficiently better than existing varieties and as such could potentially provide a more economic return in the market, he explains. NIAB s oilseed specialist Simon Kightley says he is a strong believer in the RL s three-year testing system. With our variable weather it s really hard to characterise varieties properly for their standing ability and disease resistance and, of course, their yield stability, in less than three harvest years. I m certainly going to be watching all the new candidates closely this harvest, but I would rather be steering growers towards last year s new recommendations at this stage. Even these still have some settling in to do before we can have full confidence in them. Mike Mann says it s always important to examine data to see where a variety s performance has come from. Try to select varieties that are in trials in both regions, he says. It s a good indication that a variety has potential across a wide range of sites and weather conditions. DSV hybrids are renowned for their reliability across sites and years. Simon Kightley would rather be steering growers towards last year s new recommendations. crop production magazine june
32 rotations. Even if it s possible to do this and achieve good yields and profits over the short term, it s not a sustainable strategy. A longer-term view is critical if problem weeds are to be kept under control from year to year. Lengthening rotations and including some spring cropping to maximise usage opportunities for chemistry with different modes of action will help in the long term, she says, both in protecting existing actives and keeping the overall weed burden under control. But even under a longer rotation, in a field s OSR year, getting the crop off to a strong start is still essential. Concerns grow for OSR weeds Growers are finding oilseed rape weeds tougher to tackle, according to the recent BASF/CPM survey of farmers and agronomists, but views differ on the causes and possible solutions. By Martin Rickatson Grassweeds may pose the biggest agronomic and financial challenge to combinable crop rotations as a whole, and to cereal crops in particular. But in oilseed rape breaks, broadleaf species are increasingly giving farmers some of their greatest headaches. That s the key conclusion to be drawn from the results of the joint BASF/CPM broadleaf weed control survey. But given the mild winter, is this a seasonal observation or a long-term issue? What, if anything, should OSR growers do to improve broadleaf weed management? And then there s the the neonicotinoid ban, with its implications for potential flea beetle damage levels, consequent gappy or retarded crops and subsequent possible broadleaf weed invasions. Will this mark a further need for husbandry changes, beyond the obvious ones concerning insect control? Some of the practices revealed by the survey may help identify areas where farmers could improve their broadleaf weed control, and their OSR performance as a whole, suggests Ruth Stanley, of BASF. It s interesting to note that, when growers were asked for the main reason they thought problem weeds were proving more difficult to control, the main factor they cited was fewer available herbicides to choose from, she says. The herbicide chemistry we have available is effective as long as it s not depended on to the exclusion of other control measures. Like any other crop protection product, it should be used in conjunction with other cultural control methods. Perhaps the most obvious of these other methods is the use of rotation, suggests Ruth Stanley. There are many growers in the key combinable crop areas still using wheat/osr Yield losses In terms of protecting the crop from early threats, this applies as much to broadleaf weeds as it does to grassweeds and insect damage. Yield losses can be as significant from weed competition as from flea beetle attack. While just over half the survey respondents plan on using foliar insecticide to counter the effect of the neonicotinoid ban, only just over 16% plan to put greater focus on pre and post-emergence herbicide application. The latter will not only help maximise yield potential by aiding early crop establishment in itself, but stronger, bolder crops will be less prone to insect damage. To ensure the crop has a head start over weeds, farmers should be looking to get OSR establishment underway from mid-aug if conditions are right. While it may not be common OSR establishment practice, this includes a stale seedbed where time allows. A mid-aug start will help get the crop up and away going into the autumn, particularly now the neonicotinoid suspension has come into force, removing the strongest seed treatment defence against flea beetle. But where there s sufficient time between harvest of the previous crop and the drilling window for OSR, light cultivation of the soil surface to create a stale seedbed, stimulating weed growth before spraying off ahead of OSR establishment, can be a good base from which to build a weed control strategy. While charlock was cited by almost The herbicide chemistry we have available is effective as long as it s not depended on to the exclusion of other control measures. 32 crop production magazine june 2014
34 Charlock is the number one problem broadleaf weed in oilseed rape. half the survey respondents as their most difficult-to-control weed in OSR, this past season was particularly kind on the weed, with a mild, relatively frost-free winter, points out Ruth Stanley. A few good frosts will knock it back sufficiently for the OSR to keep ahead, and the lack of that sort of weather last winter has probably brought charlock to the forefront of farmers minds in this survey. Other broadleaf weeds cleavers, cranesbill, poppy can be just as much an issue depending on the season. The key to keeping these weeds and blackgrass in check, and helping minimise the threat of flea beetle damage into the bargain, is to pick fast-starting varieties and ensure a pre-em herbicide is applied as soon as possible after drilling to keep ahead of weeds from the start, she says. Spraying obviously has to be fitted around other autumn jobs, particularly as harvest may well still be ongoing, but applying a pre-em at the right timing is critical to success. The sooner it s on, the cheaper your overall herbicide bill is likely to be, as the results should be better. Remember that weeds are not only competing for space, light and nutrients, but also particularly for moisture, which is critical for OSR at germination and e mergence. That moisture can very quickly be taken up by emerging weeds, so a good pre-em herbicide foundation will minimise that risk. The survey results showed 38% of respondents believe fewer available herbicides to be a factor behind OSR weed control difficulties, while 19% pointed to previous poor control and subsequent seed shed, and 13% identified resistance as a factor. But farmers looking for the root causes of poor control should first ensure they re using the best available targeted products, the correct rates and the right application timings. Problems are more likely to lie in these areas than with the chemistry itself. Recent years have seen some cost cutting creeping into OSR establishment, and when coupled with increased farm sizes and workloads, pressure is affecting the quality of some early weed control regimes. But it s essential not to compromise rates and timings. When used at pre-emergence, metazachlor will not only give good control of broadleaf problems such as shepherds purse, chickweed and mayweed, but will also knock back blackgrass. Metazachlor products such as Novall (metazachlor+ quinmerac) should be used pre-emergence or up to cotyledon stage of the target weed. Some growers on light, sandy soils may benefit from splitting applications. But where they ve decided to split the dose, the second application must be made, if good control is to be achieved over the season. And where only one dose is to be applied, then best results are achieved at the pre-em timing. For example, at this point metazachlor should kill off young chickweed, but once the weed is past the cotyledon stage, it ll only check it. Once into the spring, propyzamide and carbetamide will give some knock-back Pre-em metazachlor will not only give good control of broadleaf problems, but will also knock back blackgrass. 34 crop production magazine june 2014
35 of broadleaf weeds on the back of their grassweed activity, she says. But after their respective cut-off dates, definitive control options are pretty limited. And at this stage, with this product/active, successful control is heavily dependent on getting every factor timing, conditions, weed stage spot on. As a consequence, results can be variable. Farmers are understandably nervous about the OSR crop this season without neonicotinoid seed treatments, but vigorous varieties planted into a well prepared seedbed, perhaps with seedbed fertiliser where possible, will give the crop the best start. Backed up with well timed pre and post-em weed control using the best available products for the weed spectrum, the crop should be sufficiently advanced to cope with the loss of the seed dressing. Roger Edwards, north Oxon-based agronomist for HL Hutchinson, works across soils ranging from Cotswold brash to clay, and says that among his customers are some who have land on which they now can t grow OSR because of difficult-tocontrol weeds, particularly charlock. While only 9% of BASF/CPM survey respondents had tried or regularly used the Clearfield OSR system, with its associated grass and broadleaf weed herbicide, Cleranda (imazamox+ metazachlor), interest is growing in his area, he reports. Some have gone over to spring cropping mainly beans as an alternative break crop, he notes. But others are trying Clearfield varieties. I ve one customer who s growing OSR for the first time in many years this season. Having had serious charlock problems previously, he s now trying a Clearfield type, DK Imagine, which looked very impressive through the growing season. This is the first experience I ve had with a customer growing a Clearfield variety, and I ll be interested to see how it performs at harvest. We used metazachlor pre-emergence, with clomazone where cleavers, chickweed and shepherd s purse were a problem. We then left the Cleranda application as late as possible, in order to get the best kill from a full weed flush, and the results were very good. Providing it can make contact, Cleranda will control most of the problem broadleaf weeds, including charlock, runch, mayweed, hedge mustard and shepherd s purse. In order to counter concern about volunteers in following crops, he stresses that good combine cleaning between field and crops will be essential. We ll also be advising not to touch the ground after harvest, aside from rolling to firm in any shed seed, so that it can chit Using a wheat/osr rotation is not a sustainable strategy, warns Ruth Stanley. before being sprayed off with glyphosate. If the soil is very dry, we may wait until there s some moisture in the surface, as otherwise there s a risk of creating seed dormancy. For any seed that does become established in a following wheat, Sienna (pendimethalin+ picolinafen) should take out volunteers up to the cotyledon stage. North Yorks-based AICC agronomist Patrick Stephenson agrees with Ruth Stanley that, while charlock was a particular issue this season due to the lack of winter frosts, growers shouldn t lose sight of the wider spectrum of problem broadleaf weeds. These things can be very seasonal five or six years ago it was cranesbill that was a significant issue, before the arrival of Springbok, which added the activity of
36 Patrick Stephenson reckons some of the problems with efficacy could be down to a broad interpretation of the pre-emergence application. dimethenamid-p to metazachlor, and helped control the problem, he points out. The important thing is to use the right products and timings for the establishment method practised. True pre-em spraying requires a firm, even seedbed for application, which is rarely achieved through subsoiler seeding or min-till establishment. So looking at the survey results, there s perhaps a broad interpretation of pre-emergence some using min-till or subsoiler techniques may be waiting until the soil has settled, with the crop perhaps just poking through, while those drilling the crop may be spraying almost immediately. Good foundation What s important is that early weed control opportunities aren t held back simply because products such as AstroKerb (propyzamide+ aminopyralid) have now increased the options later in the season. Good control comes from a good foundation. Like Roger Edwards, he sees a place for Clearfield varieties to allow the continuation of OSR growing in fields with bad broadleaf weed problems, particularly now that higher-yielding varieties are coming through. I think the system has a place in areas with bad charlock and hedge mustard in particular, but growers must do their sums and factor in the growing costs and yield, and should be aware that non-sulfonylurea chemistry will be required to remove any volunteers in following cereals. But protecting the diminishing pool of conventional herbicides from which to choose should be the priority among those with less serious problems, he maintains Despite a significant number of survey respondents citing this as a key problem, on the whole growers aren t doing enough to protect those that remain. The use of cultural controls and wider rotations in particular need much more serious consideration. Heavy land growers have few other winter options it may even be that a grass crop should be considered if a market can be found, to give another option to allow a broadleaf weed clean-up and extend OSR gaps. BASF Clearfield specialist Clare Tucker notes that newer varieties from a number of breeders approved for use with Cleranda, offer yields significantly up on the first types. New Pioneer varieties and DK Impression, for example, offer yield figures closer to Recommended List average scores, she says. With four autumns of UK Clearfield experience now complete, those wary of potential volunteer issues in following crops should take heart from the lack of recorded issues, she maintains. After careful combining and machinery cleaning, good control planning should be followed up with the following stale seedbed, taking care to only cultivate the stubble if it s moist, before spraying off only when there has been a full weed flush. In the crop, there are plenty of non-sus that ll act upon Clearfield OSR volunteers. All autumn residuals used in cereals will take out volunteers, while Basagran (bentazone) will control them in pulses, and Betanal Max Pro (desmedipham+ ethofumesate+ lenacil + phenmedipham) will do the same in sugar beet. Very good results have been achieved by growers using Cleranda to control weeds in Clearfield OSR. 36 crop production magazine june 2014
37 BASF/CPM oilseed rape weed survey results Which weeds are the most difficult to control in your winter oilseed rape? 12% 5% Charlock 12% Blackgrass Cleavers 24% 46% Cranesbill Poppy What do you think is the main reason these weeds are becoming harder to control? 9% 13% 9% 12% 19% 4% 38% 9% Resistance Weed seed carry over from poor control in previous years Available spray days in the autumn becoming fewer Herbicide application not always at the optimal timing for best weed control Fewer herbicides to choose from Weeds harder to control in other crops in the rotation Tighter cropping rotations What is your main form of broadleaf weed control in oilseed rape? 33% 9% 2% 12% 43% None needed - good establishment takes care of it Post-emergence only Pre-emergem=nce herbicide followed up by at least one post-emergence spray Pre-emergence herbicide occasionally followed up by post-emergence sprays Pre-emergence herbicide only What approach will you take this autumn to manage the impact of the neonicotinoid restriction? 7.65% 11.18% 6.47% 16.47% 2.94% 1.76% 53.53% Foliar insecticide spray Greater focus on the use of pre-em or early post-em herbicide Grow less oilseed rape Manipulate sowing rates Change crop variety Cultural techniques Change herbicide timing How much do you typically spend on broadleaf weed control in oilseed rape ( /ha)? 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% < >100 crop production magazine june
38 Picto Perfect? Conventional OSR candidate Picto is setting the pace for yield in the race for recommendation and Frontier have fast-tracked the variety for sale this autumn. CPM gets the inside view. Growers looking for the next step up in yield should look no further than Recommended List candidate Picto. That s the view of Frontier seed manager, Peter James who s been closely following the variety over the last couple of years it s been in trial. He points out that with a combined two year official trial gross output of 107% of controls it is the top performing candidate variety. This gives it a 6% gross output advantage over hybrid variety PR46W21 that s not bad for a conventional, he says. So where does the step up in gross output come from? Well according to Mr James it is its ability to yield across a wide range of situations. In the field, its vigour is hybrid-like and stands out, and it has big, fleshy leaves on a very strong canopy. This should be no surprise as an Ovation x ER115 cross ER 115 having Expert in it s pedigree Picto has two well-liked, tried and tested parents. At 108% of controls, Picto s physical seed yield is also unbeatable and some 8% higher than that generated by the best hybrid control in the same trials series. It has also shown consistency in the two contrasting seasons it has been in trial, with a gross output of 107% in 2012 and 110% in That s why we ve taken a lead on it and have seed in the ground which will be turned round and available for this autumn, he says. Agronomically, Picto is rated 9 for standing power and it has an 8 for stem stiffness, a combination that is difficult to beat. In NL trials, its standing ability is on a par with Cabernet and Picto 38 crop production magazine june 2014 is just 3cm taller at 144cm. Its earliness of flowering sets it apart from Cabernet which is one of the latest commercially grown conventionals and at the same time Picto is earlier to maturity so will provide an earlier harvest. Mr James reckons that Picto will be most popular in the central and southern half of the UK, where phoma is an issue. While its stem canker resistance is currently rated at 7 just 1 point behind Quartz it does beat it for yield. At 113% of controls in Verticillium wilt trials, the signs are that, like its parent Ovation, it could also offer some resistance to this disease. On farm, Peter James sees growers pairing it with either Quartz or Ovation and with a gross output that is 6% higher than that of current conventional market leader Cabernet, Picto has the potential to offer an additional output of 120/ha at today s prices. Suffolk Crop Suffolk farmer David Hall is one of just a handful of UK growers to gain firsthand experience with Picto and so far so good. He s growing 40ha for Frontier for seed, with the variety following first wheat after vining peas which were the first break after 15 years of continuous wheat. It looks fantastic, flowered for a long time, and while it has benefited from being grown on virgin land looks to have 5t/ha plus potential, he says. AR Hall & Sons operate two farm units in the county, milking 250 Holsteins on a 160ha mix of marshland and light soils near Southwold; the second is a 400ha arable operation based around Ben Myhill (left) and David Hall expect Picto to do 5t/ha. Metfield Hall, near Harleston. At Metfield, which is predominantly Beccles Series, sandy clay loam, a typical rotation is two wheats followed by oilseed rape, but the company also has a 48ha vining pea contract for Ardo. Wheats are a mix of the very high yielding barnfillers including KWS Kielder, KWS Santiago and Conqueror and Mr Hall targets 10.5t/ha from his first wheats and 9t/ha from seconds. Last year we averaged 10.7t/ha, but in 2010/11, the drought took hold and yields were very poor, he says. Oilseed rape yields average 4.7t/ha over the last ten years, but are creeping up towards a consistent 5t/ha figure. This year his oilseed rapes are a mix of two conventional, Quartz and Picto and both look well set. The Picto is on one 40ha field, which the Halls re-drained back in 2011 and Mr Hall expects it to do in excess of 5t/ha. This particular field had been in continuous wheat, but saddle gall midge put paid to this, so we had to break the rotation. With little virgin ground available for seed, it made sense to follow this with the Picto. Frontier s Ben Myhill, acts as
39 agronomist for the farm, providing advice on seed, agchems and fertilisers and was pleased to be able to place the variety in David s hands. I ve got a 50:50 split of customers loyal to hybrids or conventionals, but in our region it matters little as long as a variety s got yield, standing ability and resistance to phoma and Picto appears to have all these in abundance, he says. Drilled on August 24 at 4.5kg/ha the aim was to secure plants sq m in spring and Mr Myhill reckons they probably hit the top end of this. Get up and go The Picto was drilled using a 3.8m Simba Solo ST mounted with a seeder unit before rolling. While we Flatlifted the headlands, soil conditions on the bulk of the field were good following a dry harvest when we d created hardly any soil damage, says David. After half an inch of rain, it emerged very quickly and grew well through the winter in the absence of frosts. In comparison, Quartz was very slow to get going in the spring, whereas the Picto, got up and went. Ben Myhill employed a fairly typical agronomy programme starting with a pre-em clomazone to tackle cleavers, hedge mustard and low levels of blackgrass which is managed across the rotation. This was followed at first true-leaf by metazachlor and an insecticide to tackle flea beetle which was causing some damage in the dry autumn and then Falcon at the 3-4 leaf stage for volunteers. Phoma sprays of Proline in mid-october and Prosaro in late-november were very much aimed at prevention and the latter had Kerb and Laser to tackle any grass weeds. While we saw low level spotting in the Quartz, there was no phoma in the Picto, but it was on virgin ground and spore levels would have been low, says Ben. Our trials show you need between g of boron during the season, with at least 200g in the autumn usually mixed with manganese for its green qualities. 30 kilos of nitrogen was used in the autumn followed by 200kg/ha in the spring split in early March, the end of March and early April. The first N application was as Origin 26N:37S which also delivered 125kg/ha SO 3 At knee height, Caryx was used to aid branching and canopy manipulation followed by Caramba, 14 days later. Being on meadowland we felt we wanted to be safe rather than sorry you can t shorten a tall crop, says Ben. Flowering fungicides were a mix of the SDHI Skyway at the 10 pod stage and Oranis, 26 days later, as a top up for Sclerotinia and to help with Alternaria and maintain plant health. While the pollen beetle threshold wasn t reached before flowering, Mavrik was included with the Skyway to cover seed weevil, aphids and midge. Flowering started early and finished in mid-may leaving a massive canopy with complete pod-set, which is standing well, says David. It is about 6 taller than the Quartz, though this is probably down to the fact that it is on virgin ground, and it looks to have more pods and a bigger canopy, he says. Ben Myhill says that as soon as the Picto hit the ground it was off. It never looked back, producing good, decent sized leaves and was quick to respond again in the spring, he says. Its stems are as thick as my arm and there s a good, healthy root structure. I d say that Picto is pretty vigorous, more akin to a hybrid. So far it is very, very promising and pleasing on the eye, we just hope it ll be as pleasing on the pocket. Picto in Profile Highest yielding candidate (East/West) Extremely stiff lodging resistant Medium height Early maturing Ovation cross Good stem canker resistance crop production magazine june
40 Potential pushed for a barn-busting crop Feeling his way around the barriers that are holding back his wheats has brought a Lincs grower record-breaking crops. CPM visits to learn how it s done. By Tom Allen-Stevens You inevitably get something wrong every year the trick is to learn from this and adapt. Suddenly the brakes are slammed on and David Hoyles grimaces. Urgh blackgrass, he says and gestures towards his crop of wheat. You look out, expecting to spy the tell-tale heads waving above the crop, but all you can see are fulsome flag leaves soaking up the May sunshine. There can t you see it? I ll have to come out later and pull it up, he says. There it is, indeed perhaps the only weed in his entire 150ha crop. But then it s no ordinary crop this is a wheat expected to tip the scales at over 13t/ha, provided conditions remain in its favour. It could even reclaim the UK wheat record for David Hoyles, which currently stands at 14.31t/ha. Learn and adapt We re generally on a one-in-seven year rotation with our wheats, which gives them every chance. But you inevitably get something wrong every year the trick is to learn from this and adapt. On our rotation, though, I only have about seven chances to get it right in a lifetime of farming, he says. David Hoyles is the fourth generation of his family to farm the Wisbech Series silts of Monmouth Farm just south of the Wash on the Lincs/Cambs border. Wheat usually slots in after potatoes once every four or seven years in a rotation that includes sugar beet, beetroot, vining peas, cauliflower, broccoli and 50ha of mustard grown for Colmans. Across the 550ha, lying 1-2m below sea level, 75% of crops are spring planted, and only a third of the total is combinable. The wheats are grown mostly for seed, and it was in 2011, with a crop of Invicta, that he achieved 14.10t/ha at the time, the highest ever verified yield achieved from a UK field. Since then, pitiful sunlight levels in 2012 ruined a high-potential crop, while in 2013, the average yield across his wheats came back close to the 2011 average of 40 crop production magazine june 2014
42 David Hoyles 2014 crop has every chance of reclaiming the UK wheat record, that stands at 14.31t/ha. 13t/ha. So what about 2014? The wheats look fantastic and have the same potential as they did in But we ve very different conditions this year, and I ve been encouraged into applying more N to certain bits to push the yield. All we can do is look at every aspect of growing the crop, and try to do it all right. Reclaimed silts Inevitably this starts with the soils, and already David Hoyles has an advantage over most growers with his reclaimed silts. Drainage in the area is maintained by the South Holland and North Level Internal Drainage Boards, who do a fantastic job, he says, and for which he pays an annual charge of 25-30/ha. Farming below sea level, it s crucial the drains are well maintained. If they silt up, the potential of the crop is ruined, and you risk being flooded or salted. The soils themselves are relatively free-draining, but water retentive and we take good care of the field drains to ensure they perform at their best. He keeps a comprehensive file, containing drainage maps and plans, as a record of the maintenance drain ends are kept clear, and every autumn some are cleaned with a water-powered drain jet. The same care extends to the management of the soil itself. All land is ploughed to about 30cm depth with the farm s 6f or 5f Dowdeswell ploughs, but some of these are fitted with undercutters, that effectively subsoil to a further 20cm depth. The ploughs can work offset, so the tractors can travel on top, which means there s no compaction in the furrow. We operate relatively small tractors, which do an efficient job without too much overall weight on the soil. We then fit these with tyres and pressure matched to the job, and every tractor has a compressor on board to ensure the pressure is correct I m slightly obsessed about getting this right, he admits. Flotation tyres on the trailers ensures that nothing treads the soil at more than 1 bar (15psi). The seedbed s formed with the farm s 4m Masschio power harrows and may be rolled in front of the Väderstad 6m drill an operation that s contracted out. We don t get a lot of clods, but if the soil s a bit light, the drill can bulldoze it, explains David Hoyles. We line up a drilling plan with the contractor, which extends from Sept through to Nov, depending on when the potatoes come off. We look to put the wheat into blocks that ll then determine how we manage them throughout the season. Moisture retention At the start of the autumn, moisture retention is the priority, while choosing a weather window is more important later on as it gets wet. The way it generally works is that we get the wheat in while we wait for the potato land still to be harvested to dry out. Variety choice is helped by the fact that David Hoyles hosts an 42 crop production magazine june 2014
44 The Internal Drainage Boards do a fantastic job, while meticulous care is taken over field drain maintenance. HGCA Recommended List trial site, managed by NIAB TAG. I do get closely involved with the trials and pay attention to how the varieties perform. Generally this helps me whittle down the variety choice to just three. Although it earned him the UK wheat record, Invicta has been dropped this year in favour of 20ha of Evolution. This is running alongside 100ha of Cougar and 30ha of KWS Santiago retained in the portfolio after putting in solid performances last year. As a seed grower, I m not only looking for yield and profitability, but I have to be conscious of the market, too. Invicta s brought us massive yields, but recently a lot of good-looking Group 3s have come along and struggled to get a foothold. Evolution is a hard Group 4 that s done well in the trials, which is why I ve been keen to give it a go. He works closely with local seed merchant, Peter Busfield of Dunns, and with breeders, to ensure he chooses the most suitable variety and achieves its potential. On the Fens, you have to pick a variety that ll exploit the soils inherent fertility, notes Peter Busfield. Alchemy used to be a good choice and Invicta has also done well. Here in the Wash, there s also the sea frets damp air that comes in to coastal land. These mists can keep a variety going late into the summer, but they can also encourage disease. Limagrain varieties tend to manage these conditions well. Ron Granger of Limagrain is clear on why that should be. We ve a history of tallerstemmed varieties that ride well over climatic variations. Evolution combines this with very good disease resistance. Yellow rust That s really going to come to the fore this year, especially with some of the big areas being farmed. There s no end of fields looking very yellow from rust. As the season wears on, some of these high-performance late-maturing wheats will rely very heavily on the chemistry to keep them going. Evolution has the same yield potential, but without the higher levels of risk associated with some varieties. With a Knight 1835 selfpropelled sprayer with a 24m boom and 3500-litre tank, David Hoyles admits he s over-kitted when it comes to sprayer capacity. Rust is a concern in this area, and if you take your eye off the ball, you can easily lose the potential of a crop. But we can easily cover the area we have, so the disease side comes lower down on my list of priorities. What I look for is something that ll grow well and perform on this land. The seed is dressed with Redigo Deter (clothianidin+ prothioconazole) so Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus is one less thing to worry about and drilled at seeds/m 2, depending on the sowing date. Undercutters fitted to some of the ploughs effectively subsoil to a further 20cm depth.
45 David Hoyles (left) hosts an HGCA Recommended List trial site and works closely with breeders, such as Ron Granger, which helps determine the most suitable variety and achieve its potential. With vegetable crops in the rotation, broadleaf weeds are the main concern, such as small nettle, fat hen, bindweed and knotgrass, which are easily controlled in the autumn. Blackgrass tends to be hand-rogued. The farm lies outside an NVZ, leaving crop demand as the only deciding factor for nitrogen timings. We do a lot of soil mineral N testing that could be samples and we spend quite a lot on it, but get that investment back. You get quite a bit of N back from the vegetables in the rotation cauliflower and potatoes tend to leave more than sugar beet or mustard. Normally we d expect the soil N min to be around kgN/ha, but this year it was just kgN/ha in Feb. A nitrogen application plan is then drawn up in Feb and tweaked according to what the crop looks like. We ll apply an average of about 200kgN/ha, but some crops will get kgN/ha and others as much as kgN/ha. That s applied in 3-5 splits, depending on how the crop is performing at the start. I believe in feeding a crop little and often. If it s looking forward in Feb, we ll skip the first dressing, but those that are thin and needy will get 30-50kgN/ha. This year, most crops had an early dose and will be getting a full five dressings. Nitrogen is variably applied, using satellite leaf area index maps, generated by Soyl. The application maps ensure thinner areas receive slightly higher than the field average, with rates cut back where the crop is growing well. The same routine is adopted for subsequent dressings, taking place at the end of March, mid-april and early May the main aim being to even out the crop. Then for the final dressing at the end of May, the weighting is reversed, with thicker areas given more to fill the higher number of expected grain sites. Phosphate and potash indices are generally around 3, but aside from that, paying particular attention to nutrient requirements isn t something David Hoyles has focused on to date. But it s something I m starting to play with, he reveals. SAP tests I ve been checking nutrient levels through SAP tests in late spring and early summer, to see that nothing s limiting. We don t need to apply sulphur, and in the past all we ve put on the wheat is N, P, K and manganese. But I m now thinking we can improve our yields if we look closely at where we might enhance this nutrient programme. I don t know what s right or wrong, but I want to get some Tyres and pressure matched to the job ensure that nothing treads the soil at more than 1 bar.
46 Nitrogen is applied variably, and most crops will receive five splits this year, while five fungicide sprays may be applied if the crop warrants it. evidence. The trouble is, on a seven-year rotation it s going to take a while to learn where we re making a difference. With high-yielding varieties, just as important as nitrogen timing is PGR, notes David Hoyles. A split programme of chlormequat with Moddus (trinexapac-ethyl) is applied at the T0 timing and at T1. Forward crops receive a fungicide at T0 usually Cherokee (chlorothalonil+ cyproconazole+ propiconazole). The T1 will be judged by the potential of the crop and how much disease pressure it faces. This may just be Opus (epoxiconazole) and Bravo (chlorothalonil) or we ll apply Adexar (epoxiconazole+ fluxapyroxad) with the Bravo where the crop warrants it. The T2 is usually Aviator Xpro (bixafen+ prothioconazole). Rates and timings are decided by potential disease risk and weather I do this on the move and try to keep things flexible, giving the crop what it warrants. The T3 spray timing is very important in his part of the world. We do have a lot of disease pressure late, and it s the hardest timing to judge. If you go at flowering, that can be too late for both septoria and fusarium. Many crops around here are knocked out in July and it s often only hindsight that ll tell you whether you judged it right, he notes. I m prepared to apply five fungicide sprays across the season, and a holding spray may be necessary this year in particular. Another aspect he s bringing in that he s hoping will make a difference is controlled-traffic farming. The aim is not to put seeds where a tractor wheel has been. The vegetable crops are on a 1.83m bed system, which doesn t quite fit with the 6m cereal drill, but we can line up the plough. This all slightly goes out the window at vegetable harvest, however. It s part of small changes that are building up into a bigger picture, says David Hoyles. We re still learning, and every time you get it wrong it eats into your potential. But you have to push these crops and drive the yield. Unless you push them and change things, you ll never learn what they can really do. Controlled traffic farming is being introduced across the mainly vegetable-based business that s also the second biggest grower of Colmans mustard. Farm facts GH Hoyles, Monmouth Farm, nr Spalding, Lincs. Farmed area: 550ha Cropping: Winter wheat, potatoes, sugar beet, mustard, beetroot, vining peas, cauliflower, broccoli Soil type: Wisbech Series reclaimed silts Elevation: 1-2m below sea level Tractors: John Deere 6190R, 6930, 7530, 6630, 6140R, 6620 Sprayer: 3500-litre Knight 1835 self-propelled with 500-litre freshwater tank and 24m booms Spreader: Reco Sulky WPD 36 with 2.5t hopper Combine: JD C670i with 7.3m header Cultivation: Dowdeswell 2x 6f and 2x 5f ploughs; 3x 4m Masschio power harrow Rolls: Cousins 12.4m Contour HZ HD 60cm diameter Staff: David Hoyles plus three full-time and other staff taken on for vegetable harvest.
48 AGRI-INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION No limits for the 15t/ha crop Achieving a crop s full yield potential comes down to ensuring it wants for nothing. CPM follows the theory and the trials that are making a record-breaking yield a prospect for UK growers. By Tom Allen-Stevens Have you ever had that heart murmur that happens when you re combining a field of wheat and the yield monitor flicks over 15t/ha? Chances are your yield over the field doesn t average much above 10t/ha. But wouldn t it be great to discover exactly what it is about that sweet spot that delivered the goods, and then replicate it over the entire field? We re not there yet with a wheat crop that can yield 15t/ha, says David Langton 48 crop production magazine june 2014 of Agrii. But there are many areas of many fields that do achieve that, so we know it can be done. And it s not about keeping the canopy clean or achieving complete slug control, he points out. These are important, but they re negatives to yield potential. Achieving 15t/ha is about enhancing the positives and minimising all the limiting factors. That comes down to getting the nutrition right, and creating the perfect canopy, so that light interception is optimised. Standard figures The place to start is crop off-take. Defra s Fertiliser Manual, RB209, and other sources give you standard figures to calculate crop off-take for macro and micronutrients. A 15t/ha wheat crop may require 345kgN/ha, 156kg K 2 O/ha and 126kg P 2 O 5 /ha, for example. But does that give you the whole picture? There s a high demand for potash from May into early June peaking at kg K 2 O/ha (see chart on p50), explains David Langton. The large quantity is required to regulate the osmotic balance as well as being crucial for a number of key enzymes in the plant and efficient translocation of nutrients during grain fill. If K is a limiting factor at that point, it ll limit the synthesis, uptake and transportation of many other nutrients. But as the plant dries down, some of the K will go back into the soil. Total K availability throughout the profile is also important. At index 2- there could be enough to satisfy high peak demand, but this may rely on pulling potash from below the plough layer. But if you are on shallow soil, an index of 2+ or 3 may be required. The story for phosphate is slightly different. Unlike K, it s relatively immobile and requires energy for the plant to get hold of it. There s a good relationship between root length density and access to P, so soil structure and P availability are inter-related and it s needed in the 0-30cm band. But while a soil at P Index 2 may be fine for an 8t/ha crop, it may be limiting for a 15t/ha crop.
49 Getting just one component wrong can deflate the entire potential of your crop. That s the theory, but does it work in practice? Trials undertaken mainly at the AgriiFocus site in Wilts are putting much of the thinking behind the 15t/ha challenge to the test. Dr Syed Shah has been leading the trials. The key to achieving the 15t/ha crop is getting the nutrition right, and creating the perfect canopy, so that light interception is optimised. The site is at Index 2 for P and K, so in theory they shouldn t be limiting factors. But we re still seeing a yield response from applying higher levels of P and K, he reports. It s the relationship between the applied nutrients that s important. If you raise the N, you need sufficient K to allow the plant to utilise the nutrient, and this was shown quite clearly in some trials carried out on JB Diego in (see chart on p53). Increasing K applications was only beneficial at higher levels of applied N. But what s interesting is that there was no yield response from the highest rate of potash at the highest N rate it shows that something else is limiting. The key to raising the yield further is to determine what that is. Sulphur, for example, plays a crucial role in grain quality and N-use efficiency, he notes. Applying 30kg SO 3 /ha brought a 0.5t/ha yield response, but raising this to 60kg SO 3 /ha brought no extra increase, so something else is limiting. Tissue analysis Trials revealed that using Kieserite, rather than ammonium sulphate, to supply the same amount of sulphur significantly raised the yield (see chart on p53). A tissue analysis revealed that magnesium was the limiting factor, and this is an important component of chlorophyll. So the magnesium in the Kieserite was working with the other nutrients to increase N-use efficiency, explains Syed Shah. The relationship between the nutrients becomes even more involved when it comes to the micronutrients. Trials in 2012 compared no trace elements applied to KWS Santiago and Solstice with a best approach of foliar-applied micronutrients across four main spring timings. The best treatment brought an extra 1.05t/ha and 0.78t/ha respectively. There was a noticeable effect on green leaf area duration between the plots, adds Syed Shah. So the following year, we set N calculation for a 15t/ha crop If K is a limiting factor from May into early June, it ll limit the synthesis, uptake and transportation of many other nutrients. about pulling them apart to see what they each contributed. Zinc, copper and boron were applied on their own to plots, or in combination with each other. Applied on their own, there was no response. But there was a response of 0.45t/ha when they re applied together. (see chart on p53). Micronutrients are frequently not identified as limiting factors because they re needed in such small amounts and soil analyses generally show sufficient quantities are available. But tissue analyses at key points in the season can tell a different story, points out David Langton. There could be many reasons, such as ph or dry conditions, as to why a nutrient isn t available through the soil. A tissue analysis can be very revealing, and levels vary through the season. Boron, for example, isn t usually applied to wheat, and there s a narrow band between toxicity and deficiency. But tissue tests have often shown suboptimal levels, and we ve seen yield responses to applications of boron in trials, he notes. One course of action would be to stick every micronutrient on at every spray timing, but that would be a waste of Crop N Demand Soil N Supply Crop Yield (t/ha) 15 N in Crop (kg/ha) 35 Crop N Content (kg/t) 23 Available N in Soil (kg/ha) 60 BER Correction (kg/t) -10 Mineralisable N (kg/ha) 20 Crop N Demand (kg/ha) 335 Soil N Supply (kg/ha) 115 Fertiliser to apply 333 kgn/ha (Assumes 60% fertiliser N recovery and 20kgN/ha atmospheric deposition) crop production magazine june
50 AGRI-INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION Uptake of nutrients by winter wheat Syed Shah (left) and David Langton have been carrying out trials to put much of the thinking behind the 15t/ha challenge to the test. money. The key to enhancing yield is to understand your own situation, and then it s down to the skill of the agronomist to determine where you ll get the best bang for your buck. Seed treatments add another aspect to the relationship between soil and applied nutrients. Second wheat trials have shown a 1.1t/ha yield advantage from using the seed treatment Take Off. It contains pyroglutamic acid, which enhances N mobilisation, and phosphite, which Source: Potash Development Association enhances a crop s root biomass, improving its ability to access available P, explains David Langton. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient, and the principles of working out total N requirement for a 15t/ha crop are the same as for an 8t/ha crop, and follow the HGCA Wheat Management Guidelines, he explains. You need to work out crop N demand, which is 23kgN/t for a feed crop or 25kgN/t for milling. The break-even ratio (BER)
51 Disease threatens south-west challenge In the south west of England, Agrii agronomist Peter Gould has an ambitious but realistic target for the high performance crops that are taking up the yield challenge. We re not aiming for 15t/ha just yet 11-13t/ha is the upper limit for crops in this part of the world and we re aiming to get there in stages. The main focus at the moment is to stay one step ahead of septoria. The principles are the same, however there are a number of growers who ve earmarked crops and are ensuring there s no aspect of their nutrition and general management that will limit their potential. We started with a full precision survey and have zoned the fields. That forms the basis of a lot of the management throughout the season, explains Peter Gould. We ve then been using the information provided through the AgriiFocus trials, along with tissue analyses, to decide inputs throughout the season. Ensuring enough K for the crop s spring peak demand is managed in the previous crop. We d apply kg K 2 O/ha to the oilseed rape, and the surplus is then carried forward. The zoning and knowledge of soil depth tells us where we were a bit light and whether there s enough exchangeable potassium for the wheat crop. Otherwise, all major nutrients have been managed to maintain Index 2. We ignore magnesium at our peril on these soils Kieserite or foliar applications are my favoured routes to ensure this isn t limiting. He s developed a nitrogen calculator based on off-take, uptake efficiency and results from N-Min core-testing. Typically we ve been looking at an application of around 380kgN/ha. This has been applied in four or five doses. The earlier ones have used satellite images of the crop to help manipulate the canopy, while the later ones have used the zoning information to base the rate on the yield potential of the soil. While the three earlier dressings were applied at conventional timings, around 150kgN/ha has been kept back for the later applications the fourth applied at flag leaf emergence and the final one going on at booting to ear emergence. Tissue tests have formed the basis for micronutrient applications, that have taken place throughout the spring, and these have thrown up some surprising results, reveals Peter Gould. We expected zinc to be low, but boron was also limiting in a number of cases. Copper levels haven t been too bad, although I tend Peter Gould has been using the information provided through the Agriifocus trials, along with tissue analyses, to decide inputs on highpotential crops. to look at the soil results for these. It s important to get a good, accurate picture of what levels you have and the AgriiFocus trials have shown you can t then look in isolation at any particular nutrient. What I ve tended to do is apply more copper and zinc early on, and boron later in the season. Where disease has been kept in check, he s looking forward to some good results. I m quite surprised at how many growers have stepped up to the mark. I don t think we ll get as high as 15t/ha, but I m convinced it will bring forward some specific ideas those involved will be able to apply to the rest of their wheat management.
52 AGRI-INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION If the canopy is just made up of big floppy flag leaves (left), those are the only parts of the plant that will photosynthesise, while a more upright structure (right) allows light down to the lower leaves. Rising to the 15t Challenge Agrii grower and agronomist teams across Britain are combining the best wheat-growing intelligence from the company s R&D programme with their skills and experience to push crop performance towards 15t/ha in an exciting national initiative. The Best of British Wheat 15t Challenge has grown from an enterprising project on chalk on a single Wiltshire farm in 2011/12. As well as split fields of Dickens being grown on a wide range of soil types on 12 ifarms up and down the country, the initiative has expanded this season to include whole fields of other high output varieties on more than 30 commercial farms from the Black Isle to the West Country. accounts for the N:grain price relationship. Then deduct the soil N supply, which includes the N in the crop. The total applied rate required takes into account fertiliser N recovery about 60% for medium soils and atmospheric deposition. (see example on p49). Raising the total rate above the Agri-intelligence Agrii s extensive national trials programme is designed to help UK growers maximise their crop production opportunities in a fast-changing world, with the latest researched-based technologies and approaches provided through experienced local agronomists. Overseen by an ORETO-accredited (Official Recognition of Efficacy Testing facilities and Organisations) trials team, six regional Technology Centres, and a host of associated trials sites, explore and develop integrated agronomy-led solutions in more than 50,000 replicated trial plots each year. In each case, the challenge crops are being managed with the same equipment and under the same operational constraints as the same varieties grown alongside them to current top 25% agronomic standards. This is allowing yield and margin comparisons to be made on a thoroughly commercial basis alongside detailed records of inputs and crop growth and development to pinpoint the most cost-effective improvements. Growers who wish to become involved in the challenge as it develops in the coming season should contact their Agrii agronomist or business development manager, David Neale for full details. maximum NVZ limit of 220kgN/ha should be done with caution, notes David Langton. It s the average rate over your cropped area that should be within the limit, so you re unlikely to exceed it if the rate is raised in just one field, and allowances are made for extra yield. You should also be confident you ll A linked network of 32 ifarms demonstrate these technologies and approaches in practice under commercial conditions while providing lively, interactive forums for agronomists and farmers to share experience and best practice. With a multi-million pound investment from parent company, Origin Enterprises, Agrii s farm-based weather station network, agronomy information portal and precision agronomy services are all being developed alongside this research and demonstration programme in a uniquely joined-up approach to meeting future arable, vegetable and fruit production challenges. achieve the yield you re aiming for, or N will go to waste. But yield maps can indicate patches of a 15t/ha crop from applications of just 240kgN/ha so how s that possible? It s clear in those areas that fertiliser recovery is better than average say 80%. That ll be down to soil effects and the very complex matrix of organic matter and how the roots of the crop interact, he surmises. Further trials are underway at AgriiFocus to investigate the effect of soil organic matter. Three different manures biosolids, farmyard manure and two rates of compost have been applied over three seasons and various criteria are being monitored, reports Syed Shah. The applications have had a significant positive effect on the levels of available P, K and organic matter. There are also other benefits, such as water-holding capacity and soil-bulk density, but you can t pick those out yet. This year, we ll be looking at the interaction of these treatments with N response. Significant difference Nitrogen timings make a significant difference, and this is where it s important to appreciate the components of yield, believes David Langton. For a 15t/ha crop, you need 500 ears/m 2, 55 grains/ear and a thousand grain weight of 55g. You have the opportunity at various stages in the crop s development to manipulate these components. The number of ears/m 2 is set fairly early on, determined by the seed rate and number of tillers that survive the winter, he says. What you do up to flowering decides the number of grain sites per ear each plant will set. Then management after anthesis will dictate how big the grains will be. Resource availability of all nutrients in this latter period is really important, as it s when the carbohydrates are remobilised from plant tissue. In the early part of the spring, what s critical is to use the N applications to build the right canopy structure, continues David Langton. An over full canopy isn t necessarily best. If all you end up with is lots of big floppy flag leaves, those are the only parts of the plant that will photosynthesise, and there s only so much they can contribute to yield. You re aiming for a more upright structure that allows light down to the lower leaves so they can photosynthesise efficiently, as well as the flag leaves. 52 crop production magazine june 2014
53 Effect of the interaction of applied N and potash on grain yield Management after flowering will dictate how big the grains will be, so resource availability of all nutrients in this latter period is really important. AgriiFocus cv JB Diego Effect of sulphur on grain yield Salisbury IFarm Effect of trace elements on grain yield The trial received an overspray of Human Extra 1 l/ha at GS30 and GS31 and Magnor 1.5 l/ha at GS39 and GS61; AgriiFocus cv Horatio and KWS Santiago By mid May, most fertiliser applications in the UK are complete, but trials at AgriiFocus are taking them further. Experience from New Zealand shows high performance crops benefit when as much as 60% of the N is applied after flag leaf emergence. They re using irrigation, and have longer day lengths, but the principle is an important one you don t want your wheat to run out of N just when it s filling the grains in the ear, especially with these later maturing wheats. Little and often Seven different treatments under investigation include some where a fourth application is made at GS59. It s also important not to put too much on in one hit microbes in the soil will compete with the crop for available N and lock it up. Little and often may be the best way to feed a high performance wheat, notes David Langton. Using precision farming is another important area that s key to achieving the 15t/ha crop, he points out. There are two aspects to making best use of the technology. Firstly it s about recognising field variability this will inevitably have an impact on how the crop performs and reacts to inputs. It s also about attention to detail when managing inputs. The nutritional changes made to manipulate a crop s performance will also have implications for other inputs. More N will affect your PGR strategy and approach to disease control, but there s also the opportunity to use physiological effects of strobilurins and SDHIs, for example, to enhance the crop. The key thing to remember is that setting the target higher means you re increasing the investment and the risk, and getting just one component wrong can deflate the entire potential of your crop. crop production magazine june
54 Tech Talk: Cover crops Growers are increasingly discovering the benefits of cover crops. As well as providing valuable improvements to soil health, they have been shown to prevent nitrogen leaching into groundwater and stream The nitrate net Cover crops can harness nitrate that would otherwise be lost overwinter, improve soils and can reduce soil pests. CPM seeks expert advice on where they re best used and how to achieve success. By Tom Allen-Stevens As soon as harvest is complete, your soil will start to lose nitrogen. Frontier studies show that on average almost 50kgN/ha will leach away before a spring crop is sown, for example. It s not just a financial loss this ends up in streams and rivers, and under the Water Framework Directive, winter nitrate loss faces increasing regulation. So why not plant something to capture it, suggests Paul Brown, conservation crop specialist with Kings, part of Frontier. Winter cover crops scavenge left over nitrogen and harvest the sunshine, turning these into resources that can be used in the following crop. It s an option that should be considered by anyone who s looking to manage blackgrass, crop for an anaerobic digester, or boost their Ecological Focus Area (EFA) contribution without taking land out of production. What are cover crops? Winter cover crops are fast-growing annuals established directly after harvest in front of a late-sown winter or spring crop. They re also known as green manures, and although they re generally not harvested, they can be grazed and attract points or payments under environmental schemes. Some cover crops also help reduce soil-borne pests, such as beet cyst nematode (BCN). The best cover crops are fast-growing, cheap and easy to establish. Some are frost hardy, but they re generally easy to plough down or mulch shortly before a late winter or spring crop is established. What uses do they have? The key benefit of cover crops is that they harness available nitrogen left in the soil. Most combinable crops will leave behind a high available N after harvest that will tend to leach unless an early autumn-sown crop is established. This nitrogen is taken up in the plant biomass and effectively stored until it s released once the crop is destroyed for the benefit of the following crop. Oil radish is an example of a deep-rooting cover crop which is good at capturing this available N. A cover crop will also make use of the late summer and early autumn sunlight, turning this into plant biomass that will be retained in the soil. What s more, vetches and clovers fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, bringing in an additional resource for the following crop. The vigorous rooting and organic matter they generate enliven the soil biota the micro-organisms that ensure a healthy soil. This They enhance returns from a spring crop and benefit the entire rotation. 54 crop production magazine june 2014
55 Paul Brown inspects the rooting depth of a winter cover crop. can help improve a soil where structure has taken a hit from heavy machinery and will keep it in good form against the heavy winter rains. Forage rye is an example of a cover crop with plenty of organic matter and adventurous roots. On slopes and where soils are fragile, cover crops can help considerably towards reducing erosion. As well as the environmental cost this saves, it keeps nutrients such as phosphate that binds tightly to soils, from washing away over the winter. Certain cover crops are effective at reducing BCN and free-living nematodes. Oil radish, for example, tricks BCN into thinking it s beet. The nematodes hatch, but can t survive without the proper host crop. A German trials system, similar to the HGCA Recommended List, ranks certain species as Class 1, that reduce populations by 90%, and Class 2 types that may be more vigorous, but offer a 70% reduction. What research is there? In Frontier and Kings trials at two locations, a range of cover crops were established in full drill widths in autumn 2013, and then the resulting crop was gathered in Jan 2014 and analysed for nitrogen content (see table below). Up to 141kgN/ha was captured by the crop with oil radish proving to be the most successful. Frontier autumn and spring mineral N testing shows that on average 48kgN/ha is lost over the winter months on many heavy soils following a wheat crop, and this figure is even higher on lighter soils. Frontier and Kings are also partners in a Defra-funded study carried out by the University of East Anglia and the Salle Farms Co, looking at how cover crops and minimal cultivation methods can reduce the impact of autumn run-off of residual nutrients. Nitrate levels in both soil and drainage water are being monitored carefully in fields grown to radish crops and compared with bare ploughed land. At a 90cm depth below cover crops, the nitrate value in early Feb has ranged from Kings cover crop investigations Jan 2014 Location Crop Fresh yield (t/ha) N content in crop above ground (kgn/ha) Oil radish is an example of a deep-rooting cover crop which is good at capturing available N mgN/l, compared with mgN/l for the ploughed land. Drain water from the cover crops has typically contained less than 6mgN/l, compared with 8-20mgN/l from bare land. Seed rate (kg/ha) Kent W.Turnip rape -Jupiter Kent Oil Radish -Siletina Kent Oat/Radish/Turnip/Linseed mix Kent Tillage Rad,/Oat /Vetch Kent Mix F Oxon Oil Radish -Siletina Oxon White Mustard - Carnella Oxon W,Turnip Rape - Jupiter Oxon Forage Rye - Bofuro Oxon Stubble Turnips Cover was cut and analysed for N content and DM yield prior to destruction. Both sites direct drilled last week Aug Non-replicated trials. For guidance only. Fertiliser (kgn/ha) Cover crops bring big benefits to Cotswold farm Stubble turnips have always formed part of the rotation for Oxon grower Nick August. Farming 400ha of Cotswold brash at Signet Hill, just outside Burford, they re grown as an overwinter cash crop in front of 80ha of peas. We direct drill the crop in mid Aug the key to success is to get it in early. Then it s grazed off by sheep before we drill the peas a relatively late crop to establish, giving the sheep a little longer in the early spring. He d heard that other growers were getting disappointing results with cover crops, so was pleased to take part in Frontier/Kings trials over the winter. We had six strips in a 10ha field with a range of crops grown and also a mixture. These were direct drilled on 14 Aug, straight after the wheat crop. Using the farm s 8m Väderstad Seed Hawk drill, 100kg/ha of diammonium phosphate (DAP 18:46:0) was applied with the seed. I think it s important to give it a kick start to encourage faster growth you need the crop to establish as quickly as possible so it soaks up the soil N. The brassicas performed the best, he reports. Oil radish in particular is resistant to clubroot, while winter turnip rape has a prostrate growth, so there are less stems to worry about. The cereal cover crops are supposed to be more beneficial for soil biota, with their vigorous root growth, but it s too early to notice any difference between the strips in the following spring barley crop. One thing he did notice, however, was what happened to the blackgrass. It was astonishing it was there in the early autumn, but then died as the brassica crop grew up. We didn t apply anything to the cover crop, but it was as if the blackgrass had been sprayed. It s returned in the spring barley, drilled at the beginning of April, but there s not nearly so much of a burden, he reports. We didn t get a great kill with the pre-drilling glyphosate we grazed the strips, as we do our stubble turnips, and there wasn t much green material for it to work on. Growers can expect in the region of 50/ha for grazing, he notes, and although the farm is in ELS, he doesn t count the cover crops in his points total. Whole plant assessments were made of the strips and these found that oil radish was the crop that harnessed the most N over the winter at 141kgN/ha. Nick August feels cover crops should Nick August was astonished at how well the crop controlled his blackgrass. be strongly encouraged in NELMS. You can t have them as an option in ELS if you apply fertiliser or graze them. That s been disappointing, and hopefully growers will be offered more incentives in future to establish cover crops. But even without these, they make sense as farmers we re experts at turning sunshine and nutrients into crops. We should be taking every opportunity to do so. crop production magazine june
56 Certain cover crops are effective at reducing BCN and free-living nematodes. Which crops are suitable? It s important to pick the right sort of crop some brassicas in a tight oilseed rape rotation can exacerbate the effects of clubroot, for example. So oil radish, which is resistant to clubroot, would be a good choice, while mustard would be better in a sugar beet rotation. The crop should also be matched to the priority job it ll be doing, whether that s N capture, BCN trapping, or soil enhancement. A mixture can be chosen to make it multi-functional, or other species added, such as oats, phacelia and berseem clover, to make it more diverse or alter the seed cost. Some crops must be established early (Aug), such as radish, vetches and clovers, while others can be drilled later, such as mustard, winter turnip rape and forage rye. Frost tolerance should be considered mustard won t survive temperatures below -2 C and will tend to die in Jan, so is suitable if followed by an early sown spring barley. But if maize is the following crop, the cover needs to survive the winter, and radish and vetches are comparatively hardy. How do you get the best out of cover crops? The single most important priority is to establish the crop early to capture as much N and sunshine as possible. You also don t want to spend too much money, so it s best if the seed is direct drilled straight into the wheat stubble. Light cultivations may help, as well as rolling afterwards, to achieve good seed-to-soil contact. If planting a mixture, bear in mind seed will be of different sizes and may settle, so don t put too much in the drill at once. The seed rate should be high for BCN trapping, but can be scaled back if economy is a key priority. Weeds tend not to be a problem, but where a high pressure is expected, a higher seed rate will help. Some crops are believed to have an allelopathic effect, suppressing blackgrass. Applying up to 20kgN/ha can help encourage a good early establishment. Growth will depend on early soil moisture, crop type and N left over in the soil. Typically, radish will grow to 60cm tall, yielding 30t/ha fresh weight by the time it needs to be destroyed. It can then be grazed, flailed to a mulch or sprayed with glyphosate, although it will take longer in winter for the chemical to take effect. Time the crop destruction carefully the longer you leave it, the more benefit you ll carry over into your next crop. Then, whether ploughing or direct drilling Vetches and clovers fix nitrogen, bringing in an additional resource for the following crop. subsequently, it s important that the cover crop is killed and doesn t become a weed problem. How do the finances stack up? The cost of the seed, for oil radish at 17kg/ha, for example, works out at about 40/ha, then there s the cost of drilling and rolling. The cost of destroying the cover may be very similar to what you d face when establishing a spring crop anyway, and the overwinter cover may ease spring cultivation work.
57 Frontier s work suggests you d capture typically about 70kgN/ha in the crop, which would be worth about 55/ha. Grazing could be worth 40/ha, and its value in an EFA or New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS) agreement could be around 65/ha, based on past HLS payment levels. Where BCN is the target, the cover crop could make the difference between an economically viable sugar beet crop and one that would lose you money. There s evidence that Forage rye s vigorous rooting and organic matter enlivens the soil biota. some crops have a biofumigant effect, helping control potato cyst nematode and other soil pathogens. Frontier is currently sponsoring a PhD study into this concept. More difficult to put figures on is a cover crop s contribution to organic matter, soil structure and soil vitality. These should lead to a yield improvement for the following crop. Also difficult to quantify will be the environmental and social benefit of less nitrate leached and soil eroded. What other management factors are there? The main workload for a cover crop comes in Aug, when the farm workload for an arable unit reaches its peak. While establishing a cover crop doesn t take much, it s often a relief to de-prioritise land ear-marked for spring cropping at that time. But once established, a winter cover crop is very low maintenance, effectively working the land for you and putting a plug in nitrate leaching. Where grown successfully, they enhance returns from a spring crop and The crop should be drilled as soon as possible after harvest, preferably straight into the stubble. benefit the entire rotation, while also providing a wider environmental and social benefit. Sponsors message With expert technical advice from a specialist, growers can use cover crops to improve soil health, increase nitrogen efficiency and control pests. Not only is it essential to choose the right cover crop for your situation but to then manage it effectively. Kings advisors work closely with customers to help them make the most of the many advantages of including cover crops in their plans. Cover crops: top tips Pick the crop for the job decide what you re aiming to achieve then choose a crop or mixture to suit Sow early Get in as soon after harvest as possible to make best use of available N and sunlight Consider seed rate This should be matched carefully to the job in hand, crop type and agronomic priority Land not growing a crop over the autumn and winter is a wasted opportunity. To find out more about Kings products or arrange a visit from one of their advisory team, call or visit
58 New drive for the digester INSIDERS VIEW Hybrid rye is fast becoming the number two crop for anaerobic digesters, and the introduction of a new variety has put some competition in the market. CPM takes a look at what the crop has to offer. By Tom Allen-Stevens If you ve an anaerobic digester on your doorstep, take a serious look at hybrid rye, and even if you haven t, this is not a crop to ignore. With a performance to rival maize, and several agronomic advantages, the crop s attracting real interest. And the introduction of a new variety SU Drive from Saaten Union is set to hot up the competition. It s a crop you can harvest early, which helps with stale seedbed preparations, and compared with maize, it allows a much more timely entry for the next crop, points out Bob Miles of Elsoms Seeds. What s more, with careful timing, you can harvest it before much of the blackgrass sheds its seeds. Nigel Walley of Agrovista sees hybrid rye as a crop with good prospects. There s no doubt it ll increase in popularity. I see KWS Magnifico and SU Drive taking the lion s share of the market. 58 crop production magazine june 2014 Chris Guest of Gleadell sees interest going the same way as hybrid barley. There are clear signs that hybrid cereals can help growers jump off the yield plateau those who can grow hybrid rye right will be with the money. That s a key consideration, points out Brendan Paul of Agrii. There s a real role for this crop, and it s a nice one to grow as long as you can keep it standing. But it also has potential on more marginal sites, notes Richard Jennaway of Saaten Union. It offers more options, more opportunities and in particular, better production from poorer soils. Hybrid rye has become established in Germany as the number two crop after maize as a feedstock for anaerobic digesters. Harvested as wholecrop silage in June or early July, plant operators report it compares well with maize on dry matter yield and energy value. The first varieties came to the UK three years ago from KWS Progas and Magnifico offer much shorter straw and higher dry matter yields than conventional forage rye. Hybrid rye has now taken an estimated 15% of the 40,000ha crop destined for UK AD units this year. As sole UK agents for Saaten Union s hybrid forage rye varieties, Elsoms introduced Drive around 12 months ago. Priced competitively against KWS options and in a hungry market, available seed was snapped up, according to Bob Miles of Elsoms. Those who can grow hybrid rye right will be with the money. It s being grown across the country, from Suffolk to Scotland and from the east coast to Shrops. This is because maize isn t an easy crop to grow, and many sites aren t suitable, particularly further north. So there s huge potential for hybrid rye as a complementary feedstock and SU Drive is an excellent, high-yielding variety. I can see we re going to sell two or three times more in the coming season than last year, and it ll remain competitively priced, he assures. Independent trials But the crop of Drive that forage harvesters are currently chomping through is the first that s touched UK soil. That includes trials there aren t yet any results from independent trials for hybrid rye, let alone any that include Drive, and no prospect yet of the varieties appearing in an HGCA Recommended List. That s a potential problem, reckons Chris Guest. We don t have any information on these varieties beyond what the breeders tell us. Drive seems to tick all the boxes it came in last season at a lower price to Magnifico that had sold out, and as such growers options were limited. My advice to AD growers is to put them side by side in their own farm-scale trials and judge for themselves. But it does make logical sense for AD growers to switch some of their acreage into hybrid rye, he believes. The choice
60 Hybrid rye has a high dry matter yield and can be harvested early, helping with blackgrass control. is maize, energy beet or rye. As a complementary crop to maize, beet doesn t suit everyone and needs a lot of specialist equipment. You could choose wholecrop wheat in high blackgrass situations, or grass, but hybrid rye has a superior volume. However, we ll have to wait and see for trials results until we have a decent idea of how the crop performs. Paul Brown of Frontier notes the company currently has 15 forage ryes pitched against each other in trials, including the hybrid varieties. Frontier manages the small group of farmers who grow grain rye on contract for Ryvita, and has run rye trials for the past 20 years, he points out, although this is the first year for the hybrid rye in forage trials. In the plots, you d have a job to tell the hybrid varieties apart, he says. They re all standing well and looking good. Brown rust is the main disease worry in rye it can take up to 40% of yield. But although the varieties differ slightly on paper, they look no different in the plots. The two breeders approach is different, however. Saaten Union has Turbo hybrids. It seems to be a credible technique that produces good yield, although it s not as easy to produce the seed. To grow the KWS varieties for seed is easier, and these also work well. Both techniques are capable of fantastic yields compared with conventional varieties, achieving 12t/ha grain yields, and that s what pushes their performance in AD plants. Fresh weight yields in KWS trials have averaged 42t/ha, at 35-37% dry matter (about 15t/ha DM), according to John Burgess of KWS, although growers should budget for 35-38t/ha ( t/ha DM). Farmers have been quick to latch on to 60 crop production magazine june 2014 the fact that there s potential to remove the rye and take blackgrass with it before it s set seed we ve trials that ll assess how much it can help cut the grassweed burden being harvested this summer. But rye is a crop that s never really taken off in the UK, he notes. There s a rye belt in eastern Europe where wheat suffers from winter kill. Rye is more rugged, drought resistant and requires less inputs than wheat. In the UK, there s only the small area grown for Ryvita but then the biogas market opened up about five years ago. Attractive feedstock The high volume of material rye produces for a low input cost makes it an attractive feedstock. But this could be improved through crossing types to produce hybrid varieties. Unlike wheat, rye is cross-pollinating, and female parents can be bred with cytoplasmic male sterility. The KWS programme is known as Pollen Plus, explains John Burgess. We re breeding male lines with much higher pollination which means higher germination. It s a double haploid programme, so there s a fast turnaround of progeny and screening. The hybrid progeny are shorter than their conventional parents. But height doesn t drive yield. 55% of the yield is in the grain, so for wholecrop you re looking for higher plant density, both in the ear and stem. A hybrid gives you up to 20% more overall yield through a fuller ear and thicker stem. This makes hybrid rye a very different beast from conventional forage rye, that s often sown as a cover crop in front of maize, notes Brendan Paul. You can drill hybrid rye any time from Sept through to Dec and you still get a crop that s harvested before winter barley. That makes it a fantastic fit with the arable rotation, especially on contract-farmed land, while maize wouldn t be harvested before a 31 Aug or 30 Sept agreement end date. There s also no worry with take-all. Agrii has the varieties alongside conventional types in forage trials at its Brotherton site in Yorks. I ve heard the crop can yield as much as 23t/ha dry matter, but that s outrageous. I reckon you d be looking at around 12-13t/ha DM at the milky-ripe stage, which is still a long way ahead of conventional rye at around 7t/ha. The crop looks good and has real winter hardiness. We re still seeing how far we can push the hybrids, and some plots were very proud before the winter and could ve done with a bit of a trim. The difficulty once the crop nears harvest is to keep it standing it s clear that a split PGR programme is needed. Brown rust has also been coming in. He sees hybrid rye as a good option for the biogas market, but could it attract farmers looking for a livestock feed alternative to maize? Despite its agronomic advantages, I think the seed cost puts farmers off at the moment hybrid seed costs almost double what you d pay for conventional seed, and the KWS varieties cost even more. It may tempt mixed farmers who are home-feeding and have blackgrass issues, but the forage market is basically grass-based. It ll put an end to the wall-to-wall maize we see in some parts of the country, though, and I think the area of hybrid rye will expand. In Germany, it s the biogas market that s driven this expansion, according to Joachim Moeser of Saaten Union. Hybrid rye has the highest potential methane yield per ha of all cereal crops. Maize is still the biggest crop for AD units, taking 75% of total input. But hybrid rye is settling in as the number two crop. The Saaten Union breeding programme has focused on developing parents that stay green for longer, to maximise suitability for the biodigester, he says. Traditionally, rye has been bred for the synchronous ripening of the grain, so it s taken time to develop the stay-green trait. But it s important the silage has the right consistency if it s harvested too dry, it won t compact and the air in the clamp will cause it to deteriorate. The breeder has also focused on disease resistance and straw length, with the hybrids about cm tall, compared with a conventional 180cm straw length. So what s the Turbo part? Like KWS, we ve aimed for plenty of pollen that s the secret to yield with rye but we believe breeding for high pollination introduces a yield drag. Instead we ve focused on yield, and then the seed a farmer buys contains 10% of a rye variety with an outstanding pollen production. What the farmer ends up with is effectively a three-way cross, The crop of SU Drive that forage harvesters are currently chomping through is the first that s touched UK soil.
62 INSIDERS VIEW No independent trials means growers don t have any information on hybrid rye beyond what the breeders tell them, notes Chris Guest. so there s some extra heterosis hence the Turbo. As with other hybrid cereals, Drive exhibits vigour, both above and below ground, with an extraordinary root system, suited to dry, adverse conditions, claims Joachim Moeser. There s an area of Germany east of Berlin planted mostly to pine trees the soils are very sandy, like a beach, and considered unsuitable for agricultural production. But it s the biggest area for producing rye for grain and hybrid rye performs very well there. In German trials, Drive has yielded 18-20t/ha DM, but he reckons UK growers on good sites can achieve 16-18t/ha DM. I d say you d get at least 12-13t/ha DM even on very poor sites. It s a double-use variety, so you can harvest it for grain the yield performance tends to be a little more than wheat, although it trades at a lower price. Rotational benefits In the biodigester, a 25% rye blend boosts methane yield and speed of fermentation, claims Richard Jennaway. But the main benefits of rye are rotational it s an ideal entry for oilseed rape, or for a cover crop, or preparing a stale seedbed in a bad blackgrass situation. Established in late Sept or early Oct, he recommends a seed rate of seeds/m 2. That s high for a hybrid, but you need a reasonable plant population for forage. You ll notice a vigorous early growth and good winter hardiness its tillering ability is closer to wheat than barley. There are also plenty of herbicides cleared for the crop. In spring, hybrid rye gets going early. It s about 7-10 days earlier than wheat, which means timings for all inputs should come back. You need only kgN/ha as the crop has a good scavenging ability. This is best applied in two splits in late Feb, then 2-3 weeks later. As with any hybrid, it ll leave the ground hungry, so the following crop will need feeding. SU Drive has good disease scores and standing ability, but we d still advise a good PGR programme and watch for mildew and brown rust, he notes. But hybrid rye has a bright future it could even be double-cropped with maize. The flexibility it offers, along with suitability for a wider range of sites than maize are hybrid rye s chief benefits, reckons Nigel Walley. It performs on pretty poor soils, and gets away from the biogas monocropping we re seeing in some areas. Agrovista also has biogas trials, and Hybrid rye is a good complementary feedstock to maize, boosting methane yield and speed of fermentation. Firm fit for Future Biogas SU Drive is being grown for the first time this year for Future Biogas anaerobic digesters. With plants in Norfolk and Lincs, maize will provide the bulk of the feedstock, while this ll be supplemented with 15-20% inclusion of hybrid rye. We see it as part of the energy crop mix, says farms advisor Oliver Knowland. It s not as high-yielding as maize, but it spreads the harvest and the risk. What s more, the two crops go well in the digester together. As an autumn-sown crop, it uses winter water, he points out. You can wholecrop wheat, but it s not as competitive against blackgrass. Rye is also cheaper to grow, using less N and less fungicide, and it s a good scavenger for nutrients. It also grows at low temperatures we drilled some SU Drive in Dec and it s remarkable how well it s done, albeit helped by the very mild winter. The crop also offers an alternative window for spreading digestate, he notes. We ll be growing at least 30% hybrid rye next year and it could be as much as 40%. We may be able to double-crop with forage rye, but that s risky you could be putting maize into very dry conditions, and this certainly wouldn t be suitable with hybrid rye. With no good trials information, he admits they ve been feeling our way into the agronomy of the crop. It received cyproconazole in mid- April, followed by azoxystrobin at the beginning of May. A decent PGR programme is also important. Dry matter yield is always the key trait to look for with energy crops, but that all goes to waste if the crop doesn t stand. The plan is to cut the crop before it goes brown and starts to lignify. Unlike a cow, an AD plant has no teeth and the lignin binds up the cellulose, rendering it unavailable to the methane-producing bacteria. He s planning on a yield of 35-40t/ha at 37% dry matter. Maize yields are more variable a really good harvest would be 50t at 32% DM, while a poor freshweight yield would be 35t. We re measuring all our yields over a Future Biogas will be growing at least 30% hybrid rye next year and it could be as much as 40%. weighbridge and building a fantastic database of how crops perform in different situations. But there s no substitute for replicated trials NIAB TAG, the Maize Growers Association and Future Biogas have a maize trial at Swaffham, and we really need to do the same with hybrid rye. And while the crop is now firmly in the cropping rotation, he hasn t decided yet on which varieties to move forward with. It s getting very competitive, and SU Drive is certainly one of the contenders we ll see how it does. 62 crop production magazine june 2014
63 Height doesn t drive yield, points out John Burgess a hybrid delivers 20% more overall yield through a fuller ear and thicker stem. hybrid rye features in these for the first time this year. The first thing growers will notice about Drive is the price, coming in lower than the KWS varieties, and that s why it s taken a decent chunk of the market. Agronomically it looks slightly shorter and better on rhynchosporium and brown rust, so well worth a look. He advises a seed rate of 200 seeds/m 2 up to mid-oct, rising to 250 seeds/m 2 in Nov. We ve drilled as late as Feb, with surprisingly good results, but I d advise against this if at all possible. It has vigour and that s the beauty of hybrid rye there s plenty of autumn cover and it ll get going as soon as temperatures warm up in spring. But it needs looking after don t just drill and forget it. He advises 125kgN/ha, depending on the amount of organic manure and/or digestate applied, with about 40kgN/ha applied early and the rest about two weeks later to coincide with stem extension. Apply a split dose of PGR, with chlormequat at GS30 and chlormequat plus trinexapac-ethyl at GS31. But it ll motor on through the growth stages, so you ll need to keep on top of timings. It s unlikely to need a fungicide spray at the T0 timing, but he advises a T1 and a It has a flexible drilling date, but it s a difficult crop to keep standing, reckons Brendan Paul. In spring, hybrid rye gets going about 7-10 days earlier than wheat, notes Richard Jennaway. T2 of a rust-active triazole, such as epoxiconazole or prothioconazole. Harvest it at about 35% DM, when the ear is milky ripe, which should be 20 June to 15 July. You should get at least 12.5t/ha DM, while we ve seen yields up to 20t/ha DM, and averaging at 13-15t/ha DM. Yield-wise there s not much between the varieties, and it looks as if Drive will do very well next to Magnifico and Progas. Going forward, Progas is a bit tall, and its share will probably drop back in favour of the other two, he predicts. crop production magazine june
64 The root to a perfect weedkiller INNOVATION INSIGHT Roundup s come a long way since it was introduced in the 1970s as a solution to couch. CPM looks back over its 40-year reign as the world s best-selling herbicide. By Ted Fleetwood It s difficult to know whether Dr John Franz really appreciated what he d discovered when he synthesised two phosphonic acids and ended up with the molecule that went on to the market in 1974 as glyphosate. What he almost certainly could never have envisaged is the scale of worldwide usage the herbicide would attract, nor how much it would develop over the following 40 years. In terms of sales, glyphosate is unquestionably the most successful herbicide ever developed, with around 2-3bn litres applied every year. Global sales of the weedkiller exceed paraquat, the number two best-seller, by almost ten times. But what John Franz, a scientist working for Monsanto in St Louis, was actually working on at the time was plant growth regulators. He became intrigued with how plant enzymes could metabolise compounds and with two in particular that seemed to work on perennials. Wild speculation I started integrating my knowledge of biochemistry and plant physiology with the organic chemistry, he said in a 1990 interview with US magazine Chemical and Engineering News. I came up with the hypothesis, really just wild speculation, that maybe these two weakly herbicidal compounds weren t really acting as herbicides, but rather as proherbicides that were metabolised to active compounds in the plants. He started synthesising them, and discovered N-phosphonomethyl glycine that the plant translocates to the growing points in the roots and shoots. There, it was later discovered, it acts on an enzyme called EPSP synthase, which plays a key role in plant metabolism and is unique to plants and some bacteria. At that time, most herbicides on the market were hormones, while non-selective options were mainly residual chemicals such as triazine and atrazine. Wheat traded at 50/t and the leading autumn-sown variety I ve never worried about spending money on Roundup applications. was Maris Huntsman, yielding just 5t/ha. But the scourge of the crop for many growers was couch. We forget just how serious a weed couch was, notes Manda Sansom of Monsanto. A population of 80 shoots/m 2 caused a yield loss of 25-30%, and that wasn t an uncommon weed density. The only way to control it effectively was to cultivate the John Franz discovered that plants could metabolise weak proherbicides to active compounds. (Picture courtesy of Chemical and Engineering News) 64 crop production magazine june 2014
66 Collecting couch into heaps and burning it was the only way to control it before glyphosate. roots continually over the summer, collecting them into heaps and burning them. The carbon cost was colossal and you ended up with a very dry seedbed. Glyphosate was seen as the perfect weedkiller the fact that it works at the growing point is ideal for couch, with its rhizomatous network tucked underground away from the conventional herbicides of the day. Then, once it s done its job, it degrades to natural products, unlike the persistent, mobile residual chemistry. The problem with glyphosate was getting it to the growing point, however, notes Manda Sansom. It wasn t soluble in water or fats, so first it had to be made into a salt, then surfactants added to get it into the plant. (see panel on opposite page) Incorporated into an isopropylamine salt and mixed with tallow amines, that was the first Roundup. With an active ingredient content of 360g/l, it was marketed initially in just three countries the US, UK and Malaysia and cost more than a tonne of wheat for a five-litre can. But it was an instant hit, and within a few years, patents had been filed in over 115 countries. Its use in the UK has evolved over five decades. It started as a solution for couch, but in the 1980s, as min till developed, it became the essential weed-control element. In the 1990s, set aside was introduced, and it was the product of choice to spray off natural regeneration. Set aside data But the earliest date it could be applied to set aside was 15 April. That was too late for weeds such as blackgrass and brome that were then at stem extension, and the chemical wouldn t reach the root very effectively the errors of the day helped shape our understanding of how Roundup should be used. In the 2000s, Roundup became a key tool Couch could easily reduce wheat yields by 30%. Speed of desiccation on oilseed rape %age desiccation Powermax Stems 7 DAT Pods 7 DAT Stems 15 DAT Pods 15 DAT Source: Monsanto (2010) Max Drift potential of glyphosate formulations % of total vol. in droplets <100µm Label range Pressure, bar The generic glyphosate formulation (red line) produces 31% more driftable droplets on average than Roundup Powermax (green line) or water (blue line). Source: Silsoe NIAB TAG, 2010; note: droplets <100 microns diameter are considered as driftable Trusted tool in blackgrass battle For the past 40 years, Roundup has been one herbicide that Guy Smith has relied on. It s had the most longevity and staying power and always done its job, which is more than can be said for other chemistry we use. What s more, it s always been affordable for what it does I ve never worried about spending money on Roundup applications. The herbicide has been in the armoury at Wigboro Wick, near St Osyth in Essex, for as long as he can remember. In the early 1970s, I was more interested in Blue Peter than I was in couch control on the farm. But I do remember tales of trying to scratch up couch roots so they d desiccate in the sun, or rolling them so they d bruise and take in odd dodgy herbicides. But then along came Roundup the magic and instant answer. It wasn t just couch that it cleared up, as I recall suddenly thistles were much more manageable. As a herbicide that s often pulled out of the shed, another advantage is that it s very easy and safe to use, he notes. I like the fact it has very low mammalian toxicity. It s also been useful in conservation, particularly establishing hedges and trees and keeping sterile strips between conservation margins and crops. But it s blackgrass control where Roundup is playing an increasing role on the farm. When the Good Lord offers us a decent green bridge between crops, we use it as much as possible to take out blackgrass between crops, but you don t always get a good autumn flush. In some instances fields or part fields have been taken out of production altogether and fallowed for a year, to reduce the weed burden. We keep these areas sprayed off with Roundup through to April or May to stop any blackgrass going to seed. And after 40 years of use, there hasn t been any sign of resistance in the UK, he notes. Because of this prolonged, repeated use with Guy Smith is finding he s making increasing use of glyphosate to manage his blackgrass burden as resistance to other herbicides grows. no evidence of loss of efficacy, I don t share the concerns that GM Roundup-ready wheat could lose us a vital tool in the herbicide armoury. As far as I m concerned, it would be a welcome crop, as long as it has a market. 66 crop production magazine june 2014
67 INNOVATION INSIGHT How glyphosate gets into a plant Roundup s use in the UK has evolved over five decades, says Manda Sansom. Studies have found that the formulation has a big influence on the efficacy of glyphosate. for helping the harvest, and its use led to the demise of swathing, while more recently it s become a tool against resistant grassweeds. The National Glyphosate Understanding Study, conducted through CPM last year, found that over 90% of growers say it s essential for controlling grassweeds. In 2010, an independent study valued glyphosate s contribution to UK agriculture at billion. The patent for glyphosate ran out in 1994, and since then a number of generic formulations have sprung up. In the UK, there are now 54 different approval holders and 34 parallel imports. It s a mind-boggling array, and for Monsanto, as with any innovation, there s a need to keep innovating to ensure Roundup remains the best on the market. Attention turned to the surfactants. Tallow amines were aggressive, causing damage to the leaf surface on application. The result
68 Roundup Powermax has a clean label, says Rob Plaice, so compared with other pesticides, it s relatively benign. was relatively limited movement of the glyphosate within the plant. Roundup Biactive took the chemistry a stage further. It was a combination of more benign salts and adjuvants, causing less stress to the plant which meant more uptake and translocation, continues Manda Sansom. In 2001, Roundup Max was launched as a dry granule. Primarily this was done to reduce packaging and for ease of handling, although smaller units still preferred the liquid formulation. Addressing drift Roundup Gold introduced the Transorb formulation in 2003, improving rainfastness, while a potassium salt in Roundup Energy allowed the concentration to lift to 450g/l. That was the mainstay for the next six years, then Roundup Flex was the first stewardship in a can. The surfactant was based on maize starch, and it was the first time a glyphosate formulation had addressed drift. This is something that s been a particular issue with glyphosate, according to Dr Paul Miller of NIAB TAG. Glyphosate is a solution, so will behave like water when applied through a flat-fan nozzle, in terms of the size of droplet produced. But surfactants act like washing-up liquid and reduce the surface tension, which creates finer droplets tests we ve carried out at Silsoe show standard tallow amine surfactants in water can increase drift by as much as 34% at 3 bar compared with water. (see chart on p66). With other chemistry, formulations often involve some form of emulsion or suspension and this leads to a spray with larger droplets, he explains. The difference in drift between a fungicide application, for example, and glyphosate with a tallow amine surfactant can be more than 50%. What s more, glyphosate drift can be a real issue, particularly if it s applied anywhere near a seed potato crop. Nor is it a problem that can be easily solved by adding an anti-drift agent, he adds, since that can reduce the efficacy of the application. In recent formulations, Monsanto has worked on reducing this drift effect, and the most recent tests we ve done for them show they ve made a significant improvement with the latest formulation it behaves in a very similar way to water. This is Roundup Powermax that s new on the market this year. It s another dry formulation in an ammonium salt, like Roundup Max, but it s more concentrated at 720g of active ingredient per kg, compared with 680g/kg, making it the highest loading on the market. What we ve focused on with Powermax is to ensure it has a Innovation Insight CPM would like to thank Monsanto for kindly sponsoring this article, and for providing privileged access to staff and material used to help put the article together.
69 clean label, says Rob Plaice of Monsanto. Effectively that means it has none of the orange warning symbols on the label, so compared with other pesticides, it s relatively benign, he explains. Positively charged Three ingredients make up the surfactant. There s a tall oil derived from wood pulp that s cationic, or slightly positively charged, so it s drawn to the negatively charged plant material. This fatty acid attracts the solution to the leaf cuticle and improves uptake. An ethoxylated alcohol improves the droplet spread, while ammonium sulphate acts as a potentiator and speeds up penetration into the cuticle without tissue damage. All of this comes in a plastic bag, and you d need 19 of these to produce as much waste as a spray can, he points out. In the field, the new formulation offers growers what he calls rate security better consistency of performance at lower rates and it s rainfast within the hour. But does this extra performance actually matter? It does with certain tasks, such as oilseed rape desiccation, claims Rob Plaice. You want Sold as a dry granule in a plastic sack, that means packaging has been reduced to 5% of what you d get with plastic cans. With blackgrass control, the key is to manage the balance between delaying to get a good flush, but not leaving it too late, notes Tudor Dawkins. something that acts fast, but provides a deep, even desiccation of the stems and can penetrate the thick waxy cuticle. With Powermax, we ve managed to speed up the effect without compromising overall control. (see chart on p66). The new formulation will make a difference on farm, believes Dr Tudor Dawkins of ProCam. They re subtle differences, but the key is that they increase the convenience with which it s used that s one thing Monsanto has done well with Roundup over the years, and it s needed for a chemical that fulfils so many jobs. The clean label makes it easy to use and the increase in strength and rainfastness mean a speedy, reliable kill and fast turnaround time. But glyphosate itself is a very impressive herbicide, witnessed by the fact that it s used so widely and broadly. Two key uses are desiccating crops and for blackgrass c ontrol, he says. You want a planned, gradual and thorough desiccation of the OSR crop, that suits your harvesting schedule. Roundup fits well with that, as long as it s applied at the right timing. With blackgrass control in between crops, the key is to manage the balance between delaying so you get a good flush of blackgrass that you can spray off, but not leaving it too late to drill a decent wheat crop. crop production magazine june
70 With decades of experience in large blue peas, one farming family in Cambs is achieving a gross margin that rivals a wheat crop. CPM visits to learn how. By Tom Allen-Stevens Peas play an essential role They ve grown peas at Wypemere Farm, near Whittlesey in Cambs for as long as Jonathan and Robert Brown can remember. I can recall seeing the peas being put onto tripods out in the field to lift them off the floor for drying prior to harvest, says Robert Brown. Of course the varieties are very different these days they stand well, they re stiffer they re semi-leafless and the agronomics are so much better. But the reasons they re grown haven t changed much, and they still have a role that s every bit as important today as it s ever been. They fill a space as a break crop, and being spring drilled, also provide another opportunity to lower blackgrass populations. We try to keep the potatoes on a long rotation, and peas fit in very well with the other crops we grow. They re also an excellent entry to wheat and provide an early start to harvest. Peas, sugar beet, onions and potatoes are alternated with wheat in what s essentially an eight-year rotation for EC Brown and Sons, who farm 617ha of silty clay loams in the Fens. We try not to have any second wheats, and oilseed rape encourages slugs, which are bad news for potatoes. Peas build nitrogen in the soil and there s a minimal amount of land damage, compared with sugar beet or potatoes. What s more, you don t have to live in the crop with the As long as you re prepared to put in the effort, the crop ll reward you. sprayer or fertiliser spreader, continues Robert Brown. The cousins tend to grow large blue pea varieties, and have stuck with Daytona ever since they won the British Edible Pulses Association (BEPA) award with the variety for the best sample in It stands and yields well if you can guarantee these, you ll do well with a variety, states Robert Brown. But you need to have the right soil type for peas, he reckons. They don t like clay, and they don t like being drilled into very 70 crop production magazine june 2014
71 Peas are well suited to the Browns silty clay loams, don t need many spray or fertiliser applications, but do receive plenty of manganese. wet subsoils. More than anything, they don t like compaction travel too much in the field and you ll soon see footprints in the crop. So you need the right equipment and you also need to choose the optimum conditions for fieldwork. Wide tyres or tracks tread carefully round the peas at Wypemere Farm. Preparation starts in autumn when the field is turned over with the farm s Lemken 7f reversible plough. The way to prefer to prepare land for peas is to plough they like a good depth of tilth. In the spring, a keen eye is kept on the weather and on ground conditions. Then, when the time s right, the seedbed s normally pulled through with a 7m Kongskilde Germinator twice before the crop s drilled with the farm s 6m Väderstad Rapid, followed by a set of Cousins 9m rolls a day later. Warmth and moisture Peas like warmth and moisture. The problem we have is that we can suffer massively with drought, so if we miss an opportunity of moisture, we can go a long time before conditions are right again. That tends to push us to drill relatively early, although early March is as soon as we d ever go. That said, it s a large seed, points out Jonathan Brown. The crop certainly has good vigour. As long as you drill into moisture, even if you get a dry spring, it should pull through not like onions or sugar beet that tend to suffer if it turns dry. The seed is dressed with Wakil XL (cymoxanil+ fludioxonil+ metalaxyl-m) as a matter of course. As well as damping off and ascochyta, this guards against primary downy mildew, although Daytona is relatively resistant. Seed rate is critical the target population is around 75 plants/m 2, so a rate of around 250kg/ha is drilled. Peas won t compensate if you drill them too thin, but plant them too close and they ll compete with each other. The spacing wants to be right to encourage good, strong plants. Weevil can be a worry at emergence, although the crop generally grows away from the pest, continues Robert Brown. Pigeons pose the bigger threat and need to be kept from doing damage. Broadleaf weeds are kept in check with a pre-emergence application of Nirvana (imazamox+ pendimethalin) and Centium (clomazone). If a follow-up spray s needed, this ll be Basagran (bentazone), with Aramo (tepraloxydim) generally used at some point for grassweeds. There s a limited choice of herbicides you do rely More than anything, peas don t like compaction travel too much in the field and you ll soon see footprints in the crop.
72 You need to be on your guard for pea moth at the early pod stage the Browns use PGRO s pea-moth warning service. on the first pre-em to do a good job, and that s a problem if it s dry. As a crop that fixes its own nitrogen, there s precious little to apply in the way of nutrients. It needs correct phosphate and potash indices, but the high applications to the potato crop tend to carry over into the peas that typically follow a couple of seasons later. Manganese is the exception a lack of the nutrient leads to marsh spot, and deficiencies are commonplace on the Browns Fenland soils. If ever there s a day during the spraying season when the operator hasn t much to do, we ll apply some manganese to the peas. That could be twice in the year or as much as four times, says Jonathan Brown. Disease worry Botrytis is the main disease worry, and comes into the crop at petal fall. An application of Amistar (azoxystrobin) with Octolan (chlorothalonil+ cyproconazole) keeps the disease out. The latter mixture will also take care of any late-developing Powdery mildew that can appear. You also need to be on your guard for pea moth at the early pod stage. PGRO gives a good pea-moth warning service and we ll use this as the basis for any applications sometimes two, and sometimes none at all. But if you do spray, you have to take care not to harm bees. Reglone (diquat) is the desiccant of Daytona large blue peas are used for canning, soups, ready meals and baby food, where there s an end-user emphasis on colour and aconsistent size. Large blue peas: how the finances stack up 2013 results /ha Yield 4.5t Output 300/t*) 1350 Seed (incl. dressing) 154 Herbicides 135 Fungicides 32 Insecticides 13 Trace elements and other 23 Desiccant 23 Gross Margin 970 *Typical price Peas prove a consistent performer The Dunns plant at Long Sutton is the most advanced processing centre in Europe for peas and beans, claims the company s Peter Busfield. Around 35,000t/year of ex-farm produce passes through for human consumption, and another 20-25,000t is processed for seed. The aesthetics of a pea sample for human consumption are important it needs to look good. Pea-moth damage must be kept to a minimum, but the biggest problems are staining and bleaching. Of the peas processed at Long Sutton, half are marrowfat and the rest are large blues. It s a fairly consistent market, with demand rising steadily, whereas beans are more volatile. The Dunns plant at Long Sutton is reputed to be the most advanced processing centre in Europe. They re used for canning, soups, ready meals and baby food and also micronising. A large growth market sector is for pea shoots. The advantage of the crop for the UK grower is that marrowfat and large blue peas are only grown in England there s a microclimate here that s suited to them. That s not the case with white peas where the French produce at prices that makes them unviable in the UK. While marrowfat peas are a specialist market, large blues are the most popular, and with an end-user emphasis on colour, the first thing a prospective grower must get right is the variety, notes Peter Busfield. Daytona has won the BEPA award every year since its introduction. It has a nice, clean, good green colour and a consistent size. There s now a new variety Campus that s three points ahead on yield according to the PGRO Recommended List. It s also 2 points ahead on standing ability and looks like a hedge in the field. A poor fungicide programme or leaving the crop in the field when it s ready to harvest will cause staining of the sample, and can cost a grower as much as 50/t in deductions, notes Peter Busfield. But grown well on the right site, the crop has There s a microclimate in England that suited to growing large blue and marrowfat peas, notes Peter Busfield. many benefits, he says, not least of which is a gross margin that rivals wheat. Even without that, the advantages stack up it s an ideal entry for a first wheat and will add to the wheat s yield potential. And that s from a crop with a wide spring drilling window but a short growth season, and with no expensive fertiliser inputs, which helps with the cash flow. As a spring crop, peas also offer a good opportunity for blackgrass control, and are the most drought-resistant crop in that slot, he adds. 72 crop production magazine june 2014
73 Robert Brown finds peas allow a long rotation for potatoes, provide an excellent entry to wheat and another opportunity to lower blackgrass populations. choice, as glyphosate can make the crop too brittle and can be a problem for certain uses of peas if destined for pea shoots, for example, it can distort the coleoptile. Podstik s also used to hold the crop together until the combine goes through. We ll spray about a week before harvest but it can be just two or three days, notes Robert Brown. It fits in just before wheat, but you want to drop everything when the peas are ready. The crop won t always ripen evenly, and we tend to take it slightly on the early side at about 18% moisture. Leave a crop to ripen on its own and you ll get bleached peas. Even worse is when a crop goes flat and you have to put the combine header to the floor. Then you get a crop full of dust, dirt, stains and problems. Fit and standing well A New Holland CR980 with a 9.1m Biso header provides plenty of capacity and chomps through the peas at up to 32ha/day, if the crop s fit and standing well. We put the crop in the onion shed that has a good under-floor airflow at just 1m deep, and it s surprising how fast it ll dry down to 15.5%, notes Robert Brown. You get half the tonnage you d get from a wheat crop, but it s worth much more if the quality s correct. You need to have a good contract to get the full value from your peas we ve always worked with Peter Busfield at Dunns as they re fair to us and it s a relationship that s worked well. The result is a crop that performs better than wheat seven years out of ten. For one of those years, it ll be a disaster and for the other two, it ll be there or thereabouts. But as long as you re prepared to put in the effort, the crop ll reward you. Farm facts EC Brown and Sons, Wypemere Farm, Angle Bridge, nr Whittlesey, Cambs. Area farmed: 617ha + 380ha of contracting Staff: 5 full time + Jonathan and Robert Brown Soil type: Silty clay loam Cropping: Winter wheat (238ha), maincrop potatoes (152ha), sugar beet (61ha), combinable peas (69ha), onions (61ha), winter oilseed rape (24ha), shallots (8ha) Tractors: Challenger 765B, John Deere 8530, 7530, 6140R, 2x 6630, 6910, Massey Ferguson 6480, plus two hired in the autumn Combine harvester: New Holland CX880 with a 9.1m header; NH CR980 with 9.1m Biso header Sprayer: Bateman RB55 with 36m boom Drill: 6m Väderstad Rapid Plough: Lemken 7f and 5f Cultivator: 2x Kongskilde Germinator (7m and 5m), 2x 6m Maschio, 4.6m Simba Unipress Rolls: Cousins 9m Pulses come under pressure Changeable weather towards the end of May has brought pests and disease into some pea and bean crops, advises PGRO. Pea growers in particular have been warned to be on the lookout for pea moth and spray as appropriate. We ve seen very variable levels of the pest, reports Becky Ward of PGRO. We re posting regular updates on the forum on the PGRO website, which will give growers the correct interval if spray thresholds are reached. Pea moth is one of the most damaging pea pests caterpillars feed on peas giving rise to deductions on human consumption and seed contracts. The best way to monitor for the pest is to use pheromone traps, says Becky Ward, and PGRO has been encouraging their use the threshold is 10 moths in either trap on Pea-moth caterpillars feed in the pod giving rise to deductions on human consumption and seed contracts. two occasions. The spray date for pea moth is dependent on the temperatures and can be days after thresholds are reached in traps. A second spray should be applied days after the first, she adds. In beans, there s a similar alert for bruchid beetle. Many winter bean crops may already have received a first spray. Spring beans will just be getting to the vulnerable stage the threshold is when daytime temperatures reach at least 20 C for two consecutive days, and the crop is at first pod. Growers can sign up to alerts available from Syngenta s BruchidCast. Spray intervals for bruchid beetle are just 7-10 days, she notes. Those growers who treat pulse crops at this time of year must take precautions against spraying bees the safest course of action is to spray at dusk or before dawn. Recent wet weather has tended to encourage disease. We ve seen high levels of chocolate spot in winter beans, and expect spring crops to come under similar pressure. Signum (boscalid+ pyraclostrobin) offers good control, and Alto Elite (chlorothalonil+ cyproconazole) is also effective, advises Becky Ward. The key thing is not to reduce rates where crops face high levels of the disease, Pulse growers need to be on their guard for pea moth and bruchid beetle, says Becky Ward. you won t get effective control if you do. Botrytis will soon be coming into pea crops, she notes. Look for a grey or brown rotting where leaves or pods meet the stem. There are a number of fungicides that offer control which should be applied at first pod stage. Sclerotinia may come in, too, if we get warm, wet conditions look for lesions and white, fluffy mould on the stem. If it s an issue, azoxystrobin at full rate or Switch (cyprodinil+ fludioxonil) offer good control. Full details and updates can be found at crop production magazine june
74 Beet list gets a shake-up The 2015 BBRO Recommended List has one new variety, but has had a number of changes to improve its relevance to growers. CPM studies the form. By Rob Jones As breeders make new claims, we need to make sure they re validated independently. Just one new variety has joined the slimmer but segregated BBRO Recommended List (RL) for A new Descriptive List (DL) has been introduced for varieties with special traits, namely tolerance to the AYPR strain of rhizomania and Beet Cyst Nematode (BCN) tolerance. Hornet from SesVanderhave now tops the RL with a sugar yield of and an adjusted tonnage of 102. Developed specifically for the UK market, its consistency over three years of trials is what makes it stand out, claims the breeder. The new DL lists five varieties with BCN tolerance while Sandra KWS is the one variety listed with AYPR rhizomania resistance. Yields, bolting and disease scores are shown for performance in uninfected situations. New traits How we handle these new traits is one of the challenges we face going forward, comments Colin MacEwan of BBRO. As breeders make new claims of their varieties, we need to make sure they re validated independently before they re included on the RL. AYPR resistance is measured in glasshouse tests, while trials at Shropham in Norfolk give data on tolerance or light tolerance to BCN. Among other changes are adjustments to the criteria for determining inclusion on the RL, meaning just ten varieties are now listed. Early sown bolting figures are published, drawn from special trials drilled on three dates at the end of Feb and the first week of March. The numbers, which include both 2012 and 2013 data, are much higher than previous, points out RL chairman Mike May. But these should be seen as the risk for very early sowing or high vernalisation situations. If sowing from the beginning of March, the normal bolting figures are the ones to refer to. 74 crop production magazine june 2014
76 If sowing in March, the normal bolting figures are the ones to refer to, says Mike May. Total sugar yield is the one key trait most growers should concentrate on, according to SesVanderhave. The company s Ian Munnery says making the most from every ha planted is the key driver for growers and British Sugar alike, but warns growers against switching the whole crop from varieties known to work on their land to something new. It s important to examine the consistency of the data year on year. Some varieties continue to stand the test of time, delivering consistent yields when commercialised and debunking the myth that varieties only last a year. If they didn t they wouldn t remain at the top. But other varieties show much promise then drop off the list shortly after their first large commercial sales. Proven varieties He d advocate selecting the majority of seed from existing, proven varieties from the top of the list, and trying out a proportion of new ones. All varieties on the RL provide partial resistance to standard rhizomania, he adds, while only a small area is at risk from BCN and even less from AYPR rhizomania. Some BCN-tolerant varieties carry a significant yield penalty, higher early sown bolting, lighter tolerance or all of the above, he notes. Simon Witheford of KWS believes splitting the RL provides clearer guidelines for growers. We ve seen Sandra KWS already take a leading market share of those beet-growing regions where the AYPR strain rhizomania has proliferated, he says. The variety has a yield score just 1.2% behind the highest yielding, fully recommended control variety, he points out. It could even be a suitable selection for those outside an AYPR-infestation region, particularly on fields where yields are lagging behind and where partially resistant varieties are being affected. Growers who suspect they have the more aggressive AYPR strain in their fields should have soils checked, he adds. But those who feel that yields in recent years may have plateaued or could be in decline, should consider testing the enhanced resistance of Sandra KWS in their own fields perhaps alongside current varieties in alternate drill units to see if there are differences. The AYPR strain of rhizomania has been identified in over 30 UK situations and BBRO work suggests that it s now believed to have been present in parts of Suffolk and Norfolk for 20 years or more. Where partially resistant varieties are grown in infected soils, growers could see up to a 70% loss in root yield and a 22% reduction in sugars, adds Simon Witheford. There s a new Descriptive List for varieties with special traits, namely tolerance to the AYPR strain of rhizomania and Beet Cyst Nematode tolerance. Beet puts more energy into AD units Independent German studies may simplify the choice of sugar beet varieties for biogas production, according to Strube s Richard Powell. The studies show there s a direct linear correlation between the biogas output and sugar content of varieties. This would mean that the extensive trials conducted on varieties for sugar production could also have relevance for those growing for biogas production, he maintains. The company has recently launched Barents its first sugar beet variety for biogas. Varieties promoted by breeders for biogas production aren t on the RL, nor are they suitable for sugar processing. But the value of sugar beet for biogas is now well established, with higher energy levels and faster fermentation than maize, says Richard Powell. There s been little authoritative study of the difference between sugar beet varieties, however. The German studies define the relationships between sugar content, dry matter yield and biogas production, concluding the highest biogas yields were reached from varieties with the highest sugar yields. Therefore it does not seem necessary to define new breeding targets for the use of sugar beet for biogas production, the studies conclude. The principal difference between growing beet for biogas rather than sugar is that higher nitrogen applications can be used and the crown of the beet can be processed because levels of amino acids aren t an issue, according to Strube. As with growing for sugar, beet is best left to build sugars. Any additional benefit of processing leaves is outweighed by the extra sugar content. KWS agrees that beet represents the most effective feedstock supply for biogas production, but advises the highest dry matter (DM) yield per ha is the key requirement for economic feedstock production. What s more, there are secondary characteristics that make a variety suitable, such as low soil tare, smoothness and crown height. Gerty KWS has a high DM yield and low dirt tare levels, and was one of the first varieties to be approved specifically for the production of Studies show a direct linear correlation between the biogas output and sugar content of varieties. biomass. New for 2014 were Danny and Cindy KWS, with a very low soil tare and improved DM yield. 76 crop production magazine june 2014
77 BBRO Recommended List 2015 Status Sugar yield Yield data* Adjusted tonnes Root yield Sugar content % Plant establishment Bolters per ha based on 100,000 plants/ha Early sowing Normal sowing Rust 1 = low 9 = high Powdery mildew 1 = low 9 = hig Year first listed Breeder Mean of (C) varieties 100% 100% 100% % Tonnes per ha Hornet PR (6) (1) 2014 SVH Haydn PR (5) 2013 STR Stingray PR (4) 2013 SVH Springbok PR (5) 2013 SVH Cayman R (C) SVH Lipizzan R (C) SVH Pasteur R (C) STR SY Muse PR , SYN Master PR , (5) 2013 KWS Aimanta R (C) , SYN Differences in yields of less than 3% should be treated with reserve. Comtrol varieties are indicated by (C). The control set includes Badger which is not listed. * Average population was 107 thousand/ha. ( ) denotes limited data. We see Sandra KWS as the ideal selection for those looking to adopt new technology and spread their rhizomania risks. And at just 3% lower adjusted beet yield than the RL leader, that s a small yield penalty to ensure beet yields are not being compromised. But where does a yield difference become significant? A proviso on the RL states that differences of less than 3% Should growers focus on total sugar yield or be drawn by other qualities? should be treated with reserve, points out Richard Powell of Strube. This 3% difference in yield covers the top ten rhizomania-resistant varieties, while their variation in early sown bolters is 1300%. The best combination of features is high yield, high sugar content and low bolting.
78 Ian Munnery says it s important to examine the consistency of the data year on year. Growers should aim for genetic diversity across their area, reckons James Evans of Syngenta. All the 10 varieties on the 2015 RL perform at very similar yield levels with no clear advantage in wholesale change, he adds. Trying out a new variety will help growers ascertain how it may perform on their farm and ensure they remain at the vanguard of varietal potential. But equally, when SY Muse has been so reliable in so many situations, growers can have confidence in its establishment, easy growing and high yield at harvest. Consistent results are the key reason that SY Muse has stayed as one of the lead varieties for Lincs grower Oliver Smith, of Stourton Estates, near Horncastle. This season the 65ha sugar beet crop has been drilled in mostly good conditions, with half the area sown with SY Muse. Descriptive List 2015 Status Specific use BCN Tolerance Sugar yield The even establishment and early vigour were key factors in achieving good yields from heavier land last year, he reports, even with the crop lifted early to avoid risk of soil damage. Typically the stronger soil is prone to drying out with poorer establishment, but the Muse did extremely well given the season. It also proved to be very clear of bolters, which is a significant advantage to us. Yield the key driver Bill Legge grows around 330ha of sugar at Southery, near Downham Market in Norfolk. BCN-resistant Pamina is his largest single variety at roughly one third of the cropped area. Other varieties include Cayman, SY Muse, Hayden and Springbok. Yield is the principle driver of variety choice. Our soils, at 20% plus organic matter, tend to produce crops with low sugar levels, so we also look for a variety Growers can have confidence in SY Muse, says James Evans. Yield data* Adjusted tonnes Root yield Sugar content Plant establishment Bolters per ha based on 100,000 plants/ha Early sowing Normal sowing Simon Witheford reckons Sandra KWS could be a suitable selection for those outside an AYPR-infestation region. with above-average sugar content. Bolters is another crucial consideration and is one of the reasons why we have steered away from earlier BCN varieties, just as we did with the earlier rhizomania-resistant varieties, he says. Soil sampling has revealed that BCN populations aren t at extreme levels, but can t be ignored. Where it s an issue, its impact on performance is noticeable, says Bill Legge. BCN is a constant source of frustration to efforts to improve crop performance. We ve been waiting for a BCN-resistant variety with respectable yield potential, above average sugar content and reasonable tolerance to bolting for a long time and in Pamina I believe we ve found one, he says. Rust 1 = low 9 = high Mean of (C) varieties (see table) 100% 100% 100% % Tonnes per ha Powdery mildew 1 = low 9 = hig Year first listed Breeder Sandra KWS PS2 AYPR , KWS Maddox PS1 light tolerance , (4) 2014 SYN Mongoose PS2 tolerance (3) 2013 SYN Sentinel S BCN light tolerance , SYN Thor PS3 tolerance STR Pamina PS2 tolerance , (3) 2013 KWS Differences in yields of less than 3% should be treated with reserve. The yields, bolting, disease ratings and plant populations were determined in uninfected situations. - BCN varieties are listed as tolerant or light tolerance. Tolerance = a variety that is infected by a pathogen to the same extent as a susceptible variety, but expresses little or no symptoms * Average population = 107 thousand/ha. ( ) denotes limited data. 78 crop production magazine june 2014
80 Know the drill to beat blackgrass As the battle against blackgrass intensifies, drill makers are responding with innovative ideas to help cultural control. CPM reviews what was on offer in the lines at Cereals. By Mick Roberts Every which way visitors turned at the Cereals event they were bombarded with messages about the many ways to control blackgrass. Just as it s been the prime target for chemical makers and agronomy advisers, machinery makers also have this pernicious weed in their sights. Whether sowing direct, in strips or into sprayed-off stale seedbeds, the main design trend is to use tines or disc systems that create minimum soil disturbance and help 80 crop production magazine june 2014 keep weeds underground. Initially seen as specialist tools, these designs are now becoming part of the mainstream. As the technology is maturing, more users are looking for the ability to place fertiliser at the same time and are no longer limiting their use to just oilseed rape, but employing the techniques across all crops. Indeed, the ability to also sow beans is now an important consideration following the latest news about nitrogen-fixing crops to meet the greening requirements on top of the three-crop rule. One of the pioneers of engineering equipment to match agronomic needs is Tillso. It s Rake n Roll is designed specifically to encourage germination of blackgrass and weed seeds, to boost pre-drilling control. It has since introduced a range of novel minimum disturbance Sabre tines and the Advantage sub-soiler. At Cereals, Tillso showed its first sowing unit, designed primarily for establishing OSR behind the Advantage. Many of our customers already use some form of OSR sowing behind our tines, but we feel there s a need to sow the OSR properly, explains the firm s Chris Lane. The system can also Initially seen as specialist tools, these designs are now becoming part of the mainstream. place liquid fertiliser at the same time. The coulters fit to the rear of the Advantage, or other subsoiler, and are supported on spring-loaded, parallelogram linkage, with depth controlled by an adjustable rear wheel. Seed is sown by a new opener with subtle wing angles 75mm-wide band cleared of trash, into which the following coulter works. With the preview of its forthcoming Centurion 4 drill at Cereals, Simba Great Plains is sticking with the conventional cultivator drill design, introduced on its original 6m model. Due for launch at Agritechnica next year, the drill has a split tank (60:40 or 50:50) to hold both seed and fertiliser. Weigh cells on the hopper are linked to the coulter pressure system and will automatically adjust the hydraulics to compensate for any changes in the contents to maintain the set coulter pressure. For sowing it retains the firm s 00 Series disc
82 Tillso s coulter assembly is designed to fit behind its Advantage or other subsoiler. Great Plains previewed its new 4m wide Centurion drill at the event, which won t be launched until next year. openers, which can be set at 12.5cm or 16.7cm row spacings. Cultivation is provided by two rows of 46cm diameter discs followed by a levelling board or the new option of a row of disc coulters for fertiliser disc placement between the seed rows. This is followed by a tyre packer for consolidation. The two pairs of inner wheels are mounted to run side-by-side for better transport stability, while the outer wheels are staggered. Cultivation only Kverneland s contribution to the strip-till scene is the new 3m wide Kulti-strip that provides six cultivation units without any sowing elements. The idea, which is more prevalent in Europe, is to first cultivate the strips, often also placing fertiliser, and then return with a precision drill even for OSR. Users in the UK are anticipated to use it in tandem with a drill for one-pass operations. It s also available in a format for injecting slurry. The cultivator elements are mounted on individual parallelogram linkages, with the ground opened by a leading disc, which is closely followed by a pair of scalloped wheels that clear away trash. The loosening tine behind is positioned between two large diameter discs, which are set to run parallel to the direct of travel they don t work the ground, but confine the cultivations to within the set strip. Fertiliser is placed down the back of the tine. A choice of packer wheels consolidates the strip behind. Dale Drills new eco3 model offers the same slim-tine direct-drilling system from its wider trailed models in a compact 3m-5m, mounted form for smaller area farmers wanting to move to direct drilling. Its 1.5t capacity tank can be supplied split 50:50 for those wanting to place fertiliser and front tanks will also be an option. Like the wider drills, it employs the Dale Drills minimum-disturbance tine assemblies, fitted with narrow tungten carbide tips. Quick-adjust variable-row spacings mean the drill can sow at 12.5cm to 25cm for cereals or up to 50cm for OSR. McConnel s Seedaerator, has been well received by users looking for a 3m mounted, low disturbance, strip-till drill, says the firm. Kverneland s Kulti-strip follows the European trend to cultivate the strips first before drilling later as a separate operation.
83 Lighter, narrower and mounted, the Dale Drills eco3 model is aimed at smaller farmers looking to move to the benefits of direct drilling. Now its modular build has allowed the firm to offer a number of new options, including a disc-coulter seeding system. While this follows the strip-till principle, it sows two narrow bands of seed on the outer edges of each strip effectively drilling 18 rows across the 3m working width. The disc coulter arrangement follows in line behind the front tines, which loosen 150mm wide strips that are then consolidated by tyre press wheels. Mounted on a parallelogram linkage, the coulters are mounted in line with band and are fitted with two discs, set about 150mm apart, with their front edges slightly angled inwards. But this isn t a double-disc coulter. Seed is delivered via tungsten-tipped coulters, fitted directly below the centre of each disc, which create a 25mm wide row on the edge of each cultivated strip. The disc coulters cover the seed, which is firmed in place by the harder outer edges of the following semi-inflated press wheels. Microgranule fertiliser Other new options include the facility to also place microgranule fertiliser, small seeds or slug pellets while drilling. The modular build allows the drill to plant beans down the front loosening tines, after removing the rear disc or tine coulters and fitting the seed distribution system up front. Horsch has made a number of changes to its Focus TD drill on show for the first time at Cereals. Now available in 4m and 6m working widths, the machine can be set to work in strip till or conventional configurations at 30cm for OSR or 15cm for cereals. The new, 5000-litre plastic split hopper is pressurised, which dispenses with the need for a venturi to transport seed, which now falls by gravity. The split hopper (60:40) means fertiliser can be placed down the tine either on shallow, deeper or half in both positions. New larger, 12-ply packer tyres not only reduce rolling resistance but should also help protect against punctures. The latest Horsch Focus TD features a new split, plastic pressurised tank and 12-ply tyres on the central press wheels. McConnel introduced the option of a new disc coulter arrangement for its Seedaerator low disturbance drill. crop production magazine june
84 Look no hands! It s anticipated that most tractors will be used with autosteer. The world of autosteer is one that s ironically not easy to navigate, but it s becoming more accessible for those keen to take the plunge. CPM looks at some of the options. By Emily Padfield Like the advent of the satnav, assisted steering is becoming a standard requirement for both large and small farmers alike. And, like satnav, there are varying degrees of sophistication between the different systems, making it a viable option for far more farms than it used to be. At the top of the scale, there s factoryequipped steering systems that you spec when you buy a tractor. All that s needed then is a receiver and you re away. Then, if you want to perhaps convert a tractor you can have a retrofit kit installed at 84 crop production magazine june 2014 your local dealers, or if you feel handy enough, have a go yourself. This involves steering angle sensors, hydraulic valves and a degree of wiring, depending on the make. At the entry-level end of things, there s the steering wheel type, which works in one of three ways. Friction drive uses a soft spring-loaded roller to twirl the existing steering wheel, whereas positive drive uses an electric motor and gear ring attached to the steering column and/or steering wheel to turn the wheel. Integral drive involves fitting a replacement steering wheel with a built-in electric drive motor. John Deere New John Deere 6R, 7R, 8R and 9R tractors can be supplied AutoTrac ready from the factory, with functionality through the tractor screen already in the cab. All you need is an activation key which you or the dealer enters into the tractor screen and a receiver on the top of the cab, explains John Deere s Oliver Beekes. Both 7R and 8R tractors come with activation as standard, as it s anticipated that most will be used with autosteer. If customers want an extra screen for the autosteer function, 2630 or 1800 displays are additionally available if required, he adds. Two different receivers are available from Deere the StarFire 300 receiver which is for entry-level EGNOS only, and the StarFire 3000 receiver, which works with all accuracy levels, EGNOS, SF1, SF2 and RTK (SF1 and SF2 are Deere s equivalent to Omnistar-type signals). The StarFire 3000 receiver keeps accuracy even in shaded conditions and can pick up the Russian GLONASS satellites. It s also equipped with terrain compensation technology which measures roll, pitch and yaw of the machine to ensure a true vehicle position throughout the field. AutoTrac Controller, meanwhile, provides non-john Deere and mixed fleet users in particular with the same benefits and advantages as the established AutoTrac automatic steering system. AutoTrac Controller needs to be fitted by
85 a John Deere dealer, which may take one or two days depending on the level of modification required. The kit includes a valve block and wiring harness that converts the tractor, combine, sprayer or other piece of kit into an autosteer-ready machine. In addition to AutoTrac Controller, the Universal AutoTrac 200 aftermarket steering kit is available for more than 400 models of John Deere and competitive self-propelled machines, including combines and foragers as well as tractors. This steering wheel kit is a plug-and-play type affair and takes less than an hour to fit, according to Oliver Beekes. It works with all levels of accuracy including the free StarFire 1 signal (30cm), StarFire 2 (10cm) and StarFire RTK (2cm). Both systems require a compatible receiver and a display, and this information, along with whether your machine is supported, can be found at the website. Claas Currently, Axion 800 and 900 tractor ranges can be bought steering-ready from the factory and as of Oct this year, both Arion 500 and 600 s will be also be available with this facility, explains Edward Miller of Claas. The manufacturer supplies its own terminals that can work with GPS steering, the S7 and S10, with 7 and 10in screens respectively. With either terminal and a steering ready tractor, all you need is a GPS Pilot receiver, he notes. The Claas Pilot S3 receiver transfers the GPS position data to the terminal. Alongside the receiver, the GPS PILOT or S range of terminal calculates the exact passes from the DGPS position data received, taking account of working width of the machine. A navigation computer has a six-axis gyro that provides maximum compensation for side-to-side movements, pitch and yaw. The proportional steering valve and wheel angle sensor are responsible for making accurate steering movements. Like Deere, Claas also offers a steeringwheel system called Pilot Flex. It s easily transferred between machines which are only used on a seasonal basis such as combine harvesters and forage harvesters; as a result, RTK accuracy can be available on the tractor only used for drilling, says Edward Miller. It s also designed to allow the steering wheel solution to be installed on older Claas machines or machines from other manufacturers. The advantage of this system is that there s no need to touch the hydraulics, and that it s so transferrable. All systems can work with varying degrees of accuracy. The first is the free EGNOS signal (15-30cm), then there s Omnistar XP/HP (5-12cm) which is subscription based. For 4-6cm accuracy, you can choose Baseline HD, which involves a base station and a proprietary signal to provide a correction. For 2-4cm accuracy, there s RTK, The more sophisticated StarFire 3000 works with Egnos, SF1, SF2 and RTK. and Claas has a widespread RTK network provided by its dealers to allow coverage to a large number of farms. New Holland and Case IH Although both manufacturers call their systems by different names, both use Trimble as the supplier of their guidance solutions. The AutoTrac Universal 200 can be retrofitted to hundreds of equipment platforms using all levels of StarFire receiver accuracy. crop production magazine june
86 Claas offers two new steering terminals that work with its GPS Pilot receiver either with proportional steering valves or with the Pilot Flex steering wheel. New Holland calls its fully integrated guidance system Intellisteer. Available from the factory or as a retrofit package, Intellisteer works with IntelliView III and IV screens as well as buttons on the joystick. Case IH, meanwhile, calls its system AFS, and offers an AFS Pro700 display straight from the factory which not only offers GPS steering, but also all of the tractor functions. A built-in steering-angle sensor measures angle information and send this to the Navigation Controller II device, which takes into account not only position information but also pitch, roll and yaw information from the terrain to reduce margin for error. New Holland calls its receiver the 372 antenna, which receives both DGPS and GLONASS signals, and for RTK applications there s a slim profile radio that mounts underneath. EZ-Pilot The next option is EZ-Pilot, an additional steering wheel with a motor mounted within the steering column that can be installed onto most brands of tractor or harvesting machinery. It also includes T3 Terrain Compensation Technology, which takes into account undulating ground. Using data from the receiver, an EZ-Pilot controller sends precise instructions to the high-torque steering wheel motor. The EZ-Pilot can work with FM-750, FM-1000 and TMX-2050 displays. EZ-Steer, meanwhile, turns the steering wheel via a friction wheel and a drive motor, which is commanded indirectly by an output from the guidance display. It receives electrical signals from the controller and converts them into precise commands and the operator can take control of the steering wheel at any time. There s an optional foot switch to allow you to engage and disengage the system if required. The controller for EZ-Steer uses T2 terrain compensation using two axis solid-state inertial sensors for correcting roll and yaw. The EZ-Steer can be used with EZ-Guide 250, EZ-Guide Plus, FM-750, FM-1000 or the new TMX-2050 display. Autopilot is a steering system that can be retrofitted to any make and model of The EZ-Pilot can work with FM-750 display and sends precise instructions to the high-torque steering wheel motor. Autosteer the fundamentals How does autosteer actually steer a machine? There are various ways that autosteer can steer a tractor, combine or other piece of machinery. The first is via the steering wheel, which can either be by friction, an electric motor and collar or a different steering wheel with a motor installed. The next is a fully integrated system that involves installing the necessary wiring, sensors and controllers to control the steering hydraulically. What degree of accuracy can be achieved? Broadly, there are three levels of accuracy. The most basic is EGNOS or OmniSTAR VBS, which is a free-to-all correction signal and has a pass-to-pass accuracy in the region of +/-30cm. The next is OmniStar G2, XP and HP, which offer sub-12cm accuracy. The final and most accurate correction signal comes from RTK, or mobile RTK, and offers pass-to-pass accuracy of +/-2cm. What can it be used for, and what isn t it suitable for? Autosteer can be used for most in-field applications, from combining right through to drilling. Spraying, particularly pre-emergence, is made far easier with autosteer. It also makes cultivation work a lot less stressful and tiring. For certain applications such as bed-forming, tilling and planting, 2cm accuracy is a must, which is why most potato applications, weeding and strip-tilling is carried out with RTK. Operations that involve road travel, are not suitable for autosteer. What is RTK and do I need it? The RTK system consists of a local base station in or near the field that transmits corrections to a receiver on the RTK equipped vehicle. The base station monitors the constellation of GPS satellites and continuously calculates a position. As the base station isn t moving, errors can be calculated in real-time. These fluctuations are then sent to the vehicle via the RTK radio. The vehicle s receiver uses this information to calculate a highly accurate, corrected position. RTK can be supplied either by a local mast, commonly on a dealer s workshop, or via a group of farmers who ve grouped together like RTK Solutions. You can also buy a base station from a number of companies, which allows you to operate in the area around which you place the station. There s also the option, if your GPS equipment is fitted with a modem, to access RTK via a SIM card, and this is called RTK VRS. Autosteer systems can increase efficiency, ease operator fatigue, reduce overlap and input costs and allow 24/7 operation, when required. What do you need to get started? A receiver, display and steering system. Depending on your requirements, this can be as simple or sophisticated as you decide. If your tractor is autosteer ready it s just a case of a receiver, if the tractor s display will talk to it. What are the advantages for the operator, and for the business? Autosteer systems are claimed to increase efficiency, ease operator fatigue, reduce machine wear-and-tear, reduce overlap and input costs and allow 24/7 operation, when required. 86 crop production magazine june 2014
87 The Pilot Flex steering wheel system is a cost-effective steering system, with no need to touch hydraulics and the facility to move between machines. machine, explains Ross Macdonald of Case IH. Autopilot uses the machine s electro-hydraulic circuit to provide automatic steering and there are four crucial elements to integrating a system like Autopilot. Firstly, an antenna is mounted on the roof. A steering sensor then measures the wheel angle information and sends it to the Navigation Controller, which takes into account terrain-compensated corrections to offset off-line errors created by vehicle roll, pitch or yaw. A vehicle interface receives the navigation commands from the controller and adjusts the steering hydraulically. Through AS-Communications, all of these Trimble options are available for other brands of machinery, except the factory-fitted ones. Fendt, Challenger, Valtra and Massey Ferguson AGCO launched the Fuse Technologies initiative last summer, which aims to bring all its guidance packages under one heading to make it not only simpler for the dealer but also for customers. With Topcon as its preferred supplier, it provides fully integrated AutoGuide 3000 for its Challenger, Massey Ferguson and Valtra brands, and VarioGuide for Fendt. Most new models can be specced to come AutoGuide ready straight from the factory, which involves a proportional steering valve, front-wheel turning-angle sensor, all the necessary wiring and another sensor that disengages the automated steering system as soon as the driver touches the steering wheel. The Auto-Guide 3000 TopDock offers sub-metre accuracy as standard via the EGNOS correction signal for no subscription cost. You can also contact your dealer and purchase an OmniSTAR sub-metre signal (VBS) or a decimetre correction signal (HP). It can be displayed through MF, Valtra, Challenger and Fendt displays, or an Massey Ferguson uses TopCon equipment to deliver guidance from the factory and as a retrofit AutoGuide extra terminal can be installed. If centimetre accuracy is required, a radio snap-in can be plugged into the TopDock to deliver RTK accuracy. The snap-in module allows you to work with radio correction sources or NTRIP correction through the GSM network. The VarioGuide system, used in Fendt tractors, also uses TopCon technology and again can be accessed through the tractors terminal. In addition to the US GPS satellites, VarioGuide, which is operated with the Varioterminal, is capable of using the Russian GLONASS satellite system and is also ready for use with the planned European Galileo system. The parallel use of several systems guarantees that the automatic steering system is highly reliable. crop production magazine june
88 Telematics becomes a natural progression ON FARM OPINION For over 10 years, a large Lincs arable business has progressed through various precision farming systems. CPM finds out how it s now benefiting from monitoring machinery remotely. By Andy Collings Precision farming technology continues to evolve and presents the industry with increasingly sophisticated systems aimed at making farming both efficient and, if you believe the blurb, more profitable. For Ben Webb, farms manager for Ropsley Farms based near Grantham, Lincs, they ve played a pivotal role in the running of the farm for over 10 years. But he s the first to concede there s a need to be selective and ensure that the investment is going to result in tangible benefits for the business. Because a system comes under the 88 crop production magazine june 2014 heading of precision farming, it doesn t necessarily mean it s one which is commercially viable, he cautions. And it has to be said that in my experience there are some systems which can make a big call on your time both to set up and use time which detracts from other jobs. Ropsley Farms is a privately owned business which runs to 2100ha and contract farms a further 150ha. In total, 1930ha is available for combinable crop production with the remainder a combination of Environmental Stewardship Schemes and woodlands. Winter wheat takes up 860ha of which 285ha is milling wheat, winter barley for feed occupies 105ha, spring barley for malting 280ha and oilseed rape 690ha, of which about 80% are hybrid varieties. The land is basically in two lots, explains Ben Webb. One half is medium to heavy clay with many variations of soil type often in the same field. The other half is sandy loam over limestone and is much more consistent and workable. With these two distinct soil types, there are two, three-year rotations: the heavy land has two feed wheats followed by OSR and the lighter land has milling wheat, followed by either spring or winter barley and then OSR. The seven-year average winter wheat yield is 8.5t/ha with spring It s a huge benefit which has the potential to save days of downtime. barley 6t/ha, winter barley at 8t/ha and OSR 4.1t/ha. The vast majority of land is min-tilled, the heavy land using a 5m Horsch Tiger MT as a primary cultivator and then, closer to drilling time, a pass with a 6m Knight Triple Press precedes an 8m Väderstad 800 RDA seed and fertiliser drill. The lighter land has a pass with a 6m Horsch Terrano cultivator with the Väderstad drill completing the job. Land destined for spring barley is usually ploughed using a mounted 7f Kverneland plough and furrow press. All of this adds up to an element of conventionality but it s one which has also been fine-tuned in recent years. The farm s been implementing a number of precision farming systems, the latest of which is John Deere s JDLink telematics. A new 510hp JD 9510R tractor has the new system on board.
90 ON FARM OPINION Not every precision farming system is commercially viable, cautions Ben Webb. I wouldn t put myself down as being a gadget man far from it but I have to say a system which allows you to monitor tractor performance and a host of other detail remotely does seem to offer some interesting opportunities, says Ben Webb. But it wasn t the first system he settled on and followed a progression through a number of others that have been adopted over the years. It was in 2003 that the farm started making variable-rate applications of phosphate, potash and magnesium using a Patchwork controller. This was programmed with field-mapping data provided by Soyl and the fertiliser was spread by a twin-disc Amazone machine. This was a very successful move for us, he says. Not only were costs reduced but field indices were evened up so that we now have Index 2+ for potash, 2 for phosphate and 2 for magnesium. Coloured maps But there s not so much praise though for the farm s yield-mapping system when it was first introduced according to Ben Webb, it produced a large number of coloured maps which weren t that informative. The trouble with the early yield maps was that they only told you what had happened and not why it happened, which is the bit you really wanted to know about, he says. However, I gather there s now a way of merging a number of maps together to provide a more useful overview of yields and help explain the reasons why yield variations occur. In contrast, 2007 proved to be an exciting year of developments for Ropsley Farms. First to arrive was a new self-propelled sprayer which had a boom section cut-off system. The Tecnoma Laser with its 32m boom had a GPS system which shut down 4m sections of boom to avoid over spraying on headlands. There was also an automatic start-up for the spray as it began another bout. This was quite innovative and, at the time, a brand new development which made a contribution to increasing accuracy and reducing our spraying costs, he says. It was well worth the investment and it s a system we re continuing to use with our current sprayer a Bateman RB55. The same year also saw the arrival of variable-rate Nitrogen application, using SoylSense, a system that uses crop canopy data, gathered by satellite, to assess nitrogen requirements. JDLink provides a feed back to the farm office with details of tractor performance. 90 crop production magazine june 2014
91 We trialled this system for a couple of years and used it for a further two years before calling it a day. The yield increase was negligible, there was no reduction in fertiliser costs, and the amount of time I spent downloading data, uploading on to a disc and then uploading to data cards into the fertiliser controller wasn t really worth it, says Ben Webb. But to be fair, the deciding factor to stop using it was that we had now set our sights on introducing a variable seed-rate system which we thought would have a greater impact on yield. Towards the end of 2007 the farm took delivery of two new John Deere Greenstar 2600 screens and ITC receivers which when loaded with the prescription from a memory data card could be used to operate variable application-rate systems through the spreader s control. Using JD s Starfire 2 GPS signal, it was also the start of autosteer for the farm s tractors the Quadtrac was suitably equipped and enabled large implements to be worked more accurately with a significant reduction in fuel usage of about 10%. The system was also fitted to the JD 7530 and 8345R tractors purchased in Ropsley Farms so far hasn t joined an RTK system its accuracy of +/- 2cm isn t considered to be required by a combinable cropping system and, as such, the extra cost of receiving it couldn t be justified. But this may need a re-think if the farm should ever opt for a controlled traffic system, says Ben Webb. In 2011 thoughts turned to variable seed rates with the object not of reducing seed costs, but to place the optimum number of seeds to match soil type and conditions and achieve an even plant population. Our heavier ground is very changeable in actual soil type, very often in the same field. In these circumstances it made sense to use a system which could vary seed rates and sow more seeds where germination was expected to be low and less where it was going to be high, he explains. Soil type data was gathered from those fields with variable soil types by Soyl using a conductivity testing system. This resulted in a map and a guide to where seed rates should be increased or decreased the actual seed rates were decided by Ben Webb himself. Application rates were programmed into the farm s Väderstad and Horsch drills through the JD Greenstar which automatically controlled the seed metering systems as required, he says. And the results were just so good an even plant population the like of which we d never seen before. This system clearly works Autosteer on the 6m Knight Triple Press has reduced fuel consumption by 10%. for us but it does need fields with varying soil types to make it all worthwhile. Variable rate seed is now also applied to OSR using a combination of a 7.5m Claydon V drill and a Horstine Twin Air unit. The If there s a problem, a coded warning signal can be sent from the tractor to allow the dealer to identify and solve it. crop production magazine june
92 ON FARM OPINION Variable rate seed is now also applied to oilseed rape using a combination of a 7.5m Claydon V drill and a Horstine Twin Air unit. fertiliser is held in the Claydon s hopper and the seed is metered by the Horstine and delivered to the Claydon s coulters. The Horstine also broadcasts the slug pellets. OSR, with its need for space to allow seed pods to develop at lower levels, probably benefits more from correct plant spacing than cereals, comments Ben Webb. In the ensuing years there have been updates to the control systems the JD 2630 screens and 3000 Series receivers made their appearance as has a common ISObus system. The ability to control implements from tractor systems was welcomed by Ben Webb, although he comments it s yet to be universally adopted by the industry. One of the latest developments is to place phosphate fertiliser in a band close to the seed rather than as a blanket covering, so the overall application rate and the volume used is reduced. The thinking here is that through use of variable rate applications, we ve achieved even indices throughout the soil, but the plants roots aren t drawing on it all. Bearing in mind there s very little movement of phosphate within the soil, it makes sense to provide only a local supply, he says. With only one year s experience, it s too early to judge if it s successful, but he reckons the potential financial savings in reduced phosphate costs could be significant. The continuing road to precision led to the StarFire 3000 can use the Russian Glonass satellites as well as the GPS signals, allowing it to achieve and maintain contact. farm s JD 9510 R tractor which, as it was built in the US, is fitted with the JDLink telematics system as standard. A subscription service, JDLink lets you monitor the tractor remotely its location, operating status, fuel consumption, maintenance schedule and diagnostics and it transmits this data via or mobile phone to the farm office and/or to the dealership which sold it. If there s a problem, a coded warning signal can be sent from the tractor to allow the problem to be identified a colour code of yellow, orange or red denotes the urgency or its degree of seriousness. The dealer can then make plans to solve the problem by securing parts or advising the owner or operator accordingly. It really is a comprehensive system which, I have to say we re still learning about, comments Ben Webb. If or when the tractor needs some attention the diagnosis is quicker, which means the remedy is too it s a huge benefit which has the potential to save days of down time. But its use extends beyond the monitoring of mechanical parts it also has the ability to receive data sent from the farm office, such as information regarding variable-rate application. This means I don t have to drive out and find the tractor and spend time downloading information, he says. If there s a problem I can just send a correction to the tractor without leaving the farm office. Geo-fence tractors In terms of security, one of the system s features is the ability to geo-fence tractors so that if they should be stolen, and exceed this imposed boundary, a warning call is made to a mobile phone. The whereabouts of the tractor is constantly tracked so it can be recovered. Overall, I think it s a system which offers us some tremendous benefits in the way we manage our tractors, he says. Admittedly, there s an element of big-brother about it but there s comfort in knowing that an expensive machine is being monitored and cared for. Be that it as it may, Ben Webb has identified a few points which could be seen as being a possible downside to the system. The system we have is JDLink Ultimate this isn t compatible with other tractor brands, which does limit its use to our JD tractors although, to be fair, the more basic JDLink Select version is compatible with other tractor makes. Ben Webb says he also had some initial concerns regarding the degree of technical back-up to work well, the system requires 24/7 access to well-trained technicians. As the number of systems adopted increases, the demand for technicians could exceed supply, he notes. I raised my concerns with John Deere and I ve been told the company has a specific programme to train AMS specialists and there are currently 80 in the UK and this number will increase. He adds that to get the best out of a system it s also important for farm staff to be well informed and be keen to use it. Our five tractor drivers have all embraced the precision farming concept and are adept at ensuring the best results are always achieved. In my experience it s generally true that without the enthusiasm and support of an operator, precision farming systems can fail to realise their full capabilities, he says. So, with JDLink set to make its mark on the farm s operations, what about the future? It s a difficult question but I think I d put my money on drones as a means of mapping fields, identifying areas of weeds that can be patch sprayed or where growth regulator is required the opportunities given the right equipment are huge, he says. Farm facts Ropsley Farms, Grantham, Lincs. Farm size: 2250ha of which 1930ha is cropped Cropping: winter wheat, winter and spring barley, oilseed rape Soil type: 50% heavy to medium clay, 50% sandy loam over limestone Staff: five tractor drivers Combines: Claas Lexion 770TT, 10.6m header, also contractor-owned Claas Lexion 760TT with 9.1m header Tractors: John Deere 9510R, JD8345R, JD6210R, JD6190R, plus 2x JD 6150R on hire for harvest period Sprayer: Bateman RB55 32m boom Loaders: 2x Claas Scorpion Cultivators: 6m Horsch Terrano FM, 5m Horsch Tiger MT, 6m Knight Triple Press, 8m Vaderstad NZ, 7-furrow Kverneland plough, 12m Cambridge rolls Fertiliser spreaders: 2 x Kuhn Axis 40.1 H-EMC-W ISObus Drills: 4m Horsch Sprinter grain and fertiliser ISObus, 8m Väderstad RDA 800C grain and fertiliser, 7.5m Claydon V Drill with Horstine Twin Air Grain trailers: 2x 14t Bailey, 2x 14t Wootton 92 crop production magazine june 2014
94 Driven to a high-speed concept INNOVATION INSIGHT JCB s Fastrac redefined the concept of a tractor, but that also meant redefining the components that would build it. CPM visits the company s Staffs headquarters to talk to the team that developed it. By Ted Fleetwood When the concept of a tractor with full front and rear suspension was launched at the Smithfield show in 1990, it was greeted with a mixture of disbelief and intrigue. But in a way, it was an entirely logical step for the tractor to take. The fundamentals of a tractor hadn t really moved on since the Little Grey Fergie was introduced, notes Edward Roach of JCB Agriculture. But what farmers used it for had. Although JCB is a company with its roots in agriculture, it wasn t until 1977, when the Loadall was introduced onto farm, that it started making a serious impression on the industry. It very quickly became apparent 94 crop production magazine june 2014 that a telescopic forklift was far superior to the conventional tractor and front-end loader. By the mid-1980s, JCB was selling into agriculture in earnest, and by then it was the tractor itself that was looking like the limiting machine in the operation. Transport-related activity Farms had expanded, and tractors were often required to travel relatively large distances between operations. Research showed that while heavy tillage and PTO work might each occupy a tractor for 15-20% of annual usage,tractors were used for transport-related activity for as much as 70% of the year. But the tractor, with its large rear tyres and fixed rear axle, was geared up solely for tractive power on the land. Maximum road speed was limited to 20mph (32km/h) and the only isolation from bumps and vibration that drivers in the growing agricultural contracting sector could enjoy were from the tyres and seat suspension. What was missing was a tractor that could travel large distances at high speeds, that was also a capable field tractor with productivity and comfort benefits. There was the MB Trac, that had larger, equal-sized tyres, front suspension and a mid cab, and the Unimog, with full mechanical suspension and high speed but on smaller tyres and with a forward cab. Both had their limitations, notes Edward Roach. So JCB set about redefining the concept, recalls David Bell, who at the time was managing director of the newly created JCB Landpower. We were confident that what we were doing was right because we knew that tractors spent a lot of their time on the road. We carried out a survey to find out what features farmers wanted in a tractor, and asked whether they d be interested in one that was designed to perform better on the road. 90% said they were. This led to a design brief for the High Mobility Vehicle (HMV), that later became the Fastrac, including some key features: Full suspension front and rear Equal-sized four-wheel drive Mid-mounted cab Passenger carrying capacity What was missing was a tractor that could travel large distances at high speeds, that was also a capable field tractor.
95 The project team was using parts that hadn t previously been subjected to the extreme forces they were putting them through, recalls David Brown. 50mph (80km/h) maximum road speed A rear load-deck Three-implement mounting positions (front, deck and rear) Industry-leading safety The concept used components from both the tractor and heavy truck sectors. The idea was to mesh them all together, continues David Bell. A small, highly committed project team was put together. This included Ray Clay, an engineer with experience in lorry suspension, and David Brown, who had a background in heavy plant design. Many of the components were based on a truck, recalls David Brown. But we were using parts that hadn t previously been subjected to the extreme forces we were putting them through and we were continually getting breakages. I remember ringing one manufacturer of a part that was designed for a 45t truck, to tell him the part had failed. There was silence and I thought the line had gone dead, but the news had just rendered him speechless. Rigorous tests Finding a prop shaft that would pass the rigorous tests was also a challenge, notes David Bell. The torque through the prop shaft is colossal when they fail at 40mph, it s quite dramatic. It was Joe Bamford himself who suggested we should try barrel-shaped needle-roller bearings. We found a manufacturer, fitted them and had no more failures. Some components were relatively straight-forward, in that the technology already existed the control valves for the rear suspension height levelling came from a Citroën car, for example, and regulate the pressure in a pair of JCB cylinders. It s a self-levelling system that ensures the height remains constant, whatever the load on the deck or rear linkage. Transmission was a real challenge, though, recalls David Bell. No transmission had been designed to work with a floating back axle, and no gearbox would go from 2-80km/h, so we had to design our own. We began to discover that you make one innovation, and you need a whole lot of others to come with you. One of the biggest challenges was the turning circle unlike most tractors, the Fastrac has a full chassis construction. While this takes the load off the engine and transmission, it restricts the steering angle, especially once the parallel links for the front suspension are taken into account, points out David Brown. Z-section steel used on the chassis, rather than standard box section, helped, but the parallel links were still in the way. We put a kink in them, but they kept buckling, so we had to increase the diameter of the rods to a fairly substantial 80mm. But there were some design elements that worked better than anyone had dared hope. The rear three-point linkage is attached to the floating back axle, rather David Bell was confident enough in the design and the ability of the team to ignore the possibility that they might never achieve their goal. The Fastrac suspension and chassis The Fastrac has a full chassis construction, with a Z-section design. Mechanical suspension at the front is provided by three different spring sets, while the parallel links are kinked to allow a greater steering angle. The rear three-point linkage is attached to the floating back axle, rather than the chassis a patented feature. This helps the Fastrac retain good traction, making it an effective tool for ploughing. At the back, a hydropneumatic self-levelling system regulates oil pressure in the hydraulic cylinders to ensure the height remains constant, whatever the load on the deck or rear linkage.
96 After three series of prototypes 14 models in all the JCB Fastrac was launched commercially at the Royal Show in than the chassis a patented feature of the Fastrac. The design team discovered this feature made it a very effective tool for ploughing. We knew it would be good on the road and work faster in the field with mounted implements, but the assumption was that the Fastrac couldn t plough. However we found it could, and it does so very well, notes David Brown. The independent suspension means it retains very good traction, even going across the tramlines, and the weight distribution between the front and back axles is close to 50:50, whereas it s 70:30 for most tractors. These advances carried the team through the stiff challenges they faced, not least of which was the fact that JCB generally turns out tools for the construction industry, points out David Bell. Every other machine JCB makes is complete in itself, but a tractor does a multiplicity of tasks incorporating a separate transmission for the PTO was a job in itself. In a way, we were the David against the Goliaths in the tractor industry, but that had its advantages. The project had the full backing of the boss of a family-owned firm. If it had come under shareholder scrutiny, it would probably never have flown. And because we came from a standpoint of limited knowledge, we could ask the challenging questions, and that was very effective. This gave the pioneering team a strong sense of camaraderie, he recalls. I ll never forget the spirit. It was all hands to the pumps, and you never had to ask anyone to do anything. We were on a mission, and we were focused and confident enough to ignore the possibility that we might never achieve our goal. But they did, and it was the result of three series of prototypes 14 Fastracs in all across an extensive field test programme, that was unveiled at the Smithfield show in The commercial launch followed at the Royal Show in 1991, and it soon fulfilled the expectations of a performance tractor capable of high speed both on the road and in the field. Ironically, however, it s road legislation that has proven a stumbling block for the Fastrac, which falls between a conventional tractor and a heavy goods vehicle. Innovation works ten times faster than legislation, notes David Bell. We complied with all the stringent UK legislation, both for tractors steering, visibility, in-cab noise, roll-over protection and trucks brakes, steering, mirror, and the like. By comparison, the US and Australia were far more simple markets to enter, involving self-certification for the most part. Germany was also very positive and appreciated the Fastrac s road-safety attributes. Outboard disc brakes actuation is arranged in a diagonal system so that the rear offside wheel brakes with the front nearside. Fastrac fleet helps Norfolk contractor master spreading operation As soon as John Orford heard that JCB were developing a tractor with equal-sized wheels, he approached them and asked if he could have one to try out on his farm near Diss in Norfolk. It was the 1987 Royal Show and we were driving MB Tracs at the time, he recalls. I heard there was an MB Trac Mark 2 in development, so I went to the JCB stand to find out. We ended up having one of their prototypes and have stayed with Fastracs ever since. Alongside a 200ha farm, GJ Orford and Partners run an extensive contracting business. This includes 800ha of sugar beet, and a staggering 40,000ha of fertiliser and lime-spreading, mostly within a 20-mile radius. We do every arable job with a Fastrac, but they re particularly good at spreading fertiliser and do a superb job. The key is the even distribution of weight over the front and back axles it means you can load more fertiliser than with any other tractor. The line-up of kit includes three 2170s, two 3230s, a 2140 and an 8280, that s used for carting sugar beet. Most of the fertiliser is spread with the 2170s that are fitted with front-end loaders and pull KRM Bredal spreaders. There s also a KRM Bogballe 3t mounted spreader. It s all geared so we can run it as a one-man operation, explains John Orford. When the operator arrives on farm, he unhitches the spreader and fills it with the front-end loader, then hitches up again and spreads. The real advantage of the Fastrac is that it s safe and comfortable to travel the many road miles we cover every season. And despite what you might think, it works very well with a front-end loader. Having bought one of the first ever Fastracs to leave the production line, he s seen the models develop over the years. JCB have come such a long way in a very short time. They ve developed the range, and brought in all the things we wanted, such as better transmission. The 2170 is the best current model in my view. With the four-wheel steer, it s very manoeuvrable, and that s been one of the best developments they ve come up with. Dealer back-up has also been good, he notes. If you ve a problem and they couldn t get there Every arable job is done with the Orfords Fastracs, that are fitted with front-end loaders, including 40,000ha of fertiliser spreading. that evening, you know they d be there by 7:00 in the morning. We ve a really good package with the dealer and are well looked after, but it cuts both ways we re loyal customers, too. Although there are no current plans to trade out any of the Fastracs, John Orford has his eye on the new 4000 series. It s a similar size to the 2000 series but more powerful with a better gearbox and still has 4WS we re up to date at the moment, but will eventually be getting one. 96 crop production magazine june 2014
97 INNOVATION INSIGHT The 2000 and 3000 series Fastracs feature a mid-mounted cab with rear load deck. But there s a wide variety of legislation to deal with across the rest of Europe it s quite frustrating that we had a good idea and the legislation threatened to scupper us. In the UK, the suspension and brakes make the Fastrac the only tractor that s technically legal at speeds above 20mph. This is partly down to the four-wheel air/hydraulic power braking and the secondary braking system which is also foot operated, rather than an on-the-hand park brake. Outboard disc brakes actuation is arranged in a diagonal system so that the rear offside wheel brakes with the front nearside. This means the Fastrac always comes to a halt in a straight line, even if there s a brake failure. Mechanical suspension on the front, along with the hydropneumatic rear suspension afford the Fastrac good road control, regardless of the load it s carrying. At the same time, its chassis construction and anti-roll bars offer it the road handling of a lorry. There was an issue with the tyres, however, continues David Bell. At the time of its launch, the largest road tyres capable of 80km/h were fitted to a 24-inch rim. Serious traction work required swapping them over to a second set of 30-inch tyres. But the tyre manufacturers could see we were on to something, and starting developing larger high-speed tyres. It wasn t long before Pirelli, Michelin and Goodyear were all supplying larger tyres for the Fastrac. Feedback from early users revealed the gearbox also had its limitations. It was a six-speed truck box with a three-speed range, he explains. The Fastrac was going from 0-80km/h with no soft shift, while other tractors had 24 gears spanning 0-30km/h. Smoothshift transmission A two-speed splitter was introduced in 1993, and a three-speed version came in five years later and in 2000, the oil-immersed wet clutch was introduced. Currently the 2000 series has Smoothshift Selectronic transmission, the 3000 series has P-Tronic clutchless gear changes, while the range-topping 8000 series has continuously variable transmission (CVT) all claimed to perform equally well in the field as on the road. Another advance has been ABS, explains Edward Roach. It took a lot of work to develop it we took the technology from the truck world and scaled it up from a 20-inch wheel to a 38-inch. With the inertia of a bigger wheel and bigger weight, it was quite a feat to design it. A carefully defined ABS sequence across the two brake lines reduces the risk of jack-knifing, he adds. Another development introduced in 1996 was Quadtronic four-wheel steering. Tight headland turning could be an issue. We had four-wheel steer on the Loadall, so why not introduce it on the Fastrac? An option on the 2000 series, there are five different modes: apart from two-wheel steer, there s true tracking, where the back wheel turns the same angle as the front up to 20, ensuring less damage when spraying a standing crop. The front wheels can then carry on to steer up to 40. Proportional steering turns the wheels in a 2:1 ratio up to 40 /20 and crab mode turns both sets of wheels in the same direction The new 4000 series Fastrac has a combinestyle cab, more muscle than the 2000 with a 6.6-litre six-cylinder engine, and a new tworange CVT gearbox. useful for compensating on slopes while delay mode only kicks in the rear wheels if the front have passed a 15 lock, so the driver doesn t have to flick in and out of four-wheel steer if it s just needed on the headland. The culmination of the Fastrac journey is the new 4000 series that was previewed at Agritechnica last year, and is set for commercial launch later this year. What you notice first is the new combine-style cab, with its large windscreen, full-length glazed doors and slim front pillars. A 50 seat rotation saves cricked necks when rearmounted operations need close attention. More muscle than the 2000 series it replaces is provided by a new 6.6-litre six-cylinder engine, offering gross outputs of 160hp, 190hp and 220hp. This is pushed through a new Agco two-range CVT gearbox. There s also more powerful hydraulics, pumping out 135 litres/min, with a separate line to the steering that has a new mode/cut-out selection in 4WS. There s improved lift on the rear linkage and optional double-acting hydraulic suspension. But it s not just a new model that s been added to the range, according to the team at JCB the 4000 is the launch of a new chapter for the Fastrac, they claim. It s the same Fastrac I recognise from the very early days of the initial concept, but looking back, it s the Fastrac we would have loved to have launched, says David Bell. It has all the base attributes, but it s got a super engine and super transmission. The reaction of the German dealers summed it up when we unveiled it at Agritechnica they had tears in their eyes. Innovation Insight CPM would like to thank JCB for kindly sponsoring this article, and for providing privileged access to staff and material used to help put the article together. crop production magazine june
98 Won t be picky if the going s tricky Getting establishment timing right is an increasingly common conundrum facing many growers who take on bigger and bigger acreages in an effort to benefit from economies of scale. With over 1000ha of drilling to get done each autumn and a further 100ha of spring-sown barley, Wilts grower Jeremy Margesson is no stranger to the pressure of getting crops in the ground in good time. The timing of drilling is one of the single biggest factors in achieving maximum potential yield on our high, cold clay soils, he says. We ve a ten day window at the end of Sept in which to get all our autumn drilling done. If we leave it any later then the ground starts to cool off and we re much more at risk of getting caught out with the weather which is bad news on our heavy loams. With that in mind, the business requires a drill that s capable of covering the ground at a rapid rate and working in sometimes less-than-ideal conditions. 10 years ago the operation ran to 500ha of arable cropping and, having moved from a traditional plough-based approach, started to head down the minimum-tillage route. Back then there wasn t that much choice when it came to drills for min-till conditions and the Väderstad Rapid was the preferred weapon of choice, explains Jeremy Margesson. We started out with a 4m version and as the business grew, traded up to a 6m machine. With its leading cultivation discs, ON FARM OPINION Keeping the drill going in the wet is often the biggest headache when the weather closes in. CPM visits a Wilts grower with a disc-equipped cultivator drill that will. By Nick Fone in dry conditions it would fly along and do a brilliant job. But with increasingly wet summers and the inevitable sticky, tricky seedbeds that follow, we were finding the Väderstad had a tendency to get hung up with trash and then start to bulldoze. The problem came to a head in 2010 when we still had about two-thirds of our drilling left to do and we just couldn t get on. By this stage, the 6m Rapid had done five seasons work and had covered some 5000ha. Already considering the The timing of drilling is one of the single biggest factors in achieving maximum potential yield. 98 crop production magazine june 2014
99 The Cirrus will work in places where the Väderstad just wouldn t go, say Ivor Rabbitts (left) and Jeremy Margesson. replacement options, Jeremy Margesson had looked at Horsch disc-coultered Pronto and tined Spirit drills as well as Amazone s Cirrus disc-equipped machine. The latter arrived on demo just as wet weather frustration was at its peak. Each day we would go out and try to get at least a few acres drilled with the Väderstad, but with wet heavy clay and a good layer of trash on top, seedbed conditions were less than ideal. Crucial differences I reluctantly agreed to trial the Amazone, assuming it would be the same story, given that on the face of it, it looks like much the same set-up as the Rapid two rows of cultivator discs up front followed by disc coulters. But two crucial things made the difference the mid-mounted tyre packer and the design of the disc coulters. By having the tyre packer positioned between the cultivation discs and the coulters, rather than behind them as on the Väderstad, the soil freshly loosened by the discs is consolidated and left level for the seeding units. The coulters employ a single, almost flat plain disc running at a very slight angle to open a slot for the seed. The Rapid differs from this in having a more concave serrated disc positioned at a more aggressive angle. There s no doubt that the Väderstad coulter unit is a better design that guarantees more consistent seed placement in good conditions, says Jeremy Margesson. With a 360hp Fendt up front, the 6m Amazone Cirrus will happily romp on at 16-18km/h even on wet, trashy seedbeds.
100 ON FARM OPINION The simple difference of having a mid-mounted tyre packer and shallow angle disc coulters means the Cirrus will keep running in less-than-ideal conditions. But its weak point is that it has more of a tendency to hang up on trash and bulldoze in damper seedbeds. When we trialled the Amazone it just didn t suffer in the same way. It tends to cut through damp trashy parts rather than bulldozing. But the straighter plain disc has more of a tendency to smear a slot in the wet. That said, the smaller plastic cleaning discs keep the coulters as clean as a whistle. Suboptimal conditions The critical factor was judged to be the Cirrus ability to keep going when conditions weren t at their optimum. On that basis the demo machine stayed on at Burderop Farm for the rest of the season until a brand new version arrived in time for drilling the following spring. Four years on, the 6m machine has covered well over 4000ha and is still the king-pin in the farm s crop-establishment system. As well as sowing spring and winter cereals into min-till seedbeds behind the business Väderstad TopDown and double-press, it also drills over 340ha of oilseed rape each year. We re quite traditional about our OSR establishment and still cultivate, roll, drill and roll again in the conventional way, explains Jeremy Margesson. We tend to keep the cultivation and drilling about 24 hours apart to give the surface a chance to dry out a bit but not to lose too much moisture. It s then dry enough for the drill discs to 100 crop production magazine june 2014 produce a tilth but damp enough to ensure good germination. Equally importantly, the seed has enough soil coverage to ensure it s not hit by pre-emergence herbicides. Having a drill with cultivation discs is felt to be a real bonus where OSR is sown after spring barley. Often the earlier barley harvest enables sewage sludge to be spread on the stubbles some three weeks before the OSR is drilled. While the sludge is disced in immediately, the land can slump in that time so the drill s cultivation discs help to freshen the seedbed. Having the discs up front to generate some extra tilth means we do away with another pass that we d otherwise need on our stiffer ground. But there s a price to pay any combination cultivator-drill is going to be heavy. The difference with the Amazone is that it has its packer in the middle and so is much better balanced when it lifts on the headlands. Because of that it doesn t seem to sink and isn t the dead-weight that the Rapid could be. The key factor in moving to this type of drill was to ensure timeliness through fast-paced sowing in that critical late-sept establishment window. So has the Cirrus delivered in that department? With our 360hp Fendt 936 on the front I can comfortably romp on at 16-18km/h, says operator Ivor Rabbitts. At that speed, the seed is still going in at an even depth and I m covering some serious acres. More importantly, it ll work in places where the Väderstad just wouldn t go. Even when it s wet, 90% of the time we can get seed in the ground without it blocking up. That generally means that whatever the weather, working alongside the farm s 4m Kuhn power-harrow combination (which tackles the heavier, wetter stuff as required), the Cirrus gets the majority of its autumn work out of the way in just ten days. When I hit a wetter patch, all I need to do is lift the cultivation discs a touch on the hydraulics and they then drop back to their preset depth at the touch of a button. With an electronic position sensor set on a sliding scale, adjusting how much work they do is very straightforward, he says. And it s the same story with the coulters. Divided up into left, right and central sections, each toolbar is set using a simple rotating ram-stop block. For headland turns it s then just a case of lifting the whole machine on the tyre packer and giving the linkage a gentle upwards tweak to make sure everything s clear of the ground. The headstock is a clever arrangement able to pivot in three dimensions which means the drill faithfully follows the tractor wheelings and isn t thrown out of kilter when the tractor clambers over lumps and bumps. Particular praise Contour-following is one area where the Cirrus comes in for particular praise. With each coulter unit carried on its own hydraulic ram plumbed into an accumulator-cushioned circuit on each coulter toolbar, uneven seedbeds aren t an issue. With the coulters working independently, each one follows the ground brilliantly to maintain an even seed depth, says Ivor Rabbitts. But it s quite a busy, complicated arrangement with lots of wearing parts. Over time they re going to require quite a bit of maintenance. The only issue with the system is that because the rams are so small and they re carrying such a tiny amount of fluid, if there s even the slightest oil leak, that wing will quickly start to dive and bulldoze. While positioned in the centre of the machine, the tyre packer is felt to improve seed placement, its location does make puncture repairs a tricky task. Already used to Amazone s generic Amatron control boxes from the farm s fertiliser spreader, Ivor Rabbitts finds navigating his way through the various The plastic cleaning discs keep things clean in even the stickiest conditions, but after 4000ha of work on flinty ground, they re beginning to show their age.
101 Pointing directly at the back of the tractor cab, the fan intake was particularly noisy, but some grain ducting and a couple of elbows have eliminated the problem. menus a straightforward task. It s all familiar stuff I can flick through the screens quickly to find what I m looking for and the new box talks to our TopCon RTK system without any trouble. It s not always 100% reliable for tramlining though so you have to keep an eye out for that. However calibration is a doddle it s way more user friendly than the Väderstad. You just slide a tray under each of the two metering units, open a flap, hit the calibrate button in the cab and weigh the contents. The box then corrects itself according to the target rate you ve punched in. While that procedure might be straightforward enough, Ivor Rabbitts feels one simple feature is missing. There s no sensor on the metering unit flaps to say they re open so you can charge off down the field without remembering to shut them. Trickiest conditions There are sensors on the inspection covers so it would make sense to have them on the calibration flaps too. In covering over 1100ha each year, Burderop s 6m Cirrus has proved itself to be a reliable performer in even the trickiest conditions, allowing the business to get all its autumn crops in the ground in that critical ten-day window at the end of Sept. However nothing stands still and in the next 12 months, it may well be ousted for something altogether different. The Amazone has done a brilliant job for us and solved the issue of keeping going in the wet but, like the Väderstad,it is a heavy machine, says Jeremy Margesson. The discs up front generate some extra tilth and means they do away with another pass that they d otherwise need on stiffer ground. We need to think about the impact such weighty kit has on the ground and the potential knock-on effect on crop yields. Although they might not offer the same level of seed placement accuracy, I think it s time to start looking at lighter tine drills there are plenty of options out there. Farm facts Whatley Brothers, Burderop near Swindon, Wilts. Farmed area: 1110ha Cropping: Winter wheat 360ha, winter barley 120ha, spring barley 245ha, oilseed rape 345ha, grass and maize 40ha Soil type: Medium to heavy clay loams over chalk Elevation: Rising from 137m to 260m above sea level Tractors: Fendt 936 and 724 plus 200hp New Holland hired in with owner-driver at harvest and drilling Sprayer: 4000-litre Bateman RB35 with 36m booms Loader: Manitou MLT Combine: New Holland CR 9090 with 10.5m (35ft) header Cultivators: 5m Väderstad TopDown and 5.5m double-press Drills: 6m Amazone Cirrus and 4m Kuhn power-harrow combination Staff: Jeremy Margesson and Ivor Rabbitts full-time plus three others at harvest and drilling
102 ON FARM OPINION One of Norfolk s leading producers of field-scale vegetables has seen significant benefits from dual-clutch tractor transmission. CPM finds out what these were. By Julian Cooksley Cutting-edge technology lies at the heart of every operation for Veg R Us, that trades as Tattersett Farms Partnership. One of Norfolk s leading producers of field-scale vegetables, the business supplies high quality produce to the food service, manufacturing industry and retailing sectors. It operates two farms on the north Norfolk coast which provides ideal growing conditions for its speciality vegetable. Gearing up profits parsnip producer Established in 1959, this family-run business is owned and operated by Kevin and Debbie Hammond, together with their two sons, Scott and Oliver. Based on the outskirts of Tattersett, a small village between Fakenham and King s Lynn, the company has been growing, harvesting, processing and packing high quality vegetables, including parsnips and carrots, for over 50 years. It currently grows 130ha of parsnips plus 32ha of carrots and by working alongside other local land owners has been able to add beetroot and turnips to the portfolio of quality root vegetables. Three generations of Hammonds have worked the land and constantly invest in new technology, which they claim allows them to offer a dependable, reliable, personal service, competitive pricing as well as a wealth of knowledge around the growing and processing of British parsnips and other root vegetables. The main focus for Veg R Us has been growing quality British produce for domestic customers, but demands for vegetables outside the normal growing seasons in the UK has cultivated long-term relationships with overseas growers, so the business can guarantee supply all year round. Scott Hammond, who s responsible for field operations on 400ha of light to medium sandy loam soils in Norfolk, emphasises that the company has always been technology led. My grandfather started out by washing root vegetables using a simple home-made We ve always believed in using technology as the weapon of choice to help us take the business forward. 102 crop production magazine june 2014
103 machine, packing them into paper sacks and taking them to the London markets on a Thames Trader lorry. Since then we ve always believed in using technology as the weapon of choice to help us take the business forward, operate more efficiently and provide customers with exactly what they want at competitive prices. The tipping point for us came in the early 1990s when we gained a contract to supply Asda, which gave us the funds to invest in new technology, new farm equipment and a new pack house. During the past 15 years the vegetable sector has become much more professional and quality standards have become much higher. Back in the 1970s Growing 130ha of parsnips, Tattersett Farms operates 12t tandem-axle trailers to minimise soil damage. and 80s it was perfectly acceptable to grow vegetable crops on Grade C land, but we ve moved to much better quality soils to meet current quality expectations, while technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, continues Scott Hammond. Long-term contracts There s more security in the industry now because our major customers realise the value of long-term contracts in terms of delivering the consistency of supply and quality they require. That s given us the confidence to invest heavily in vegetableprocessing equipment so we deliver excellent products. We ve 240ha of arable crops, but it s the 160ha of vegetables 80% parsnips and 20% carrots which are by far the most important and where we direct most of our efforts. The company s specialist 2ha factory employs 11 staff who process crop straight from the field, ensuring maximum freshness. Currently producing over 50t of carrots and parsnips every day, in addition to turnips and beetroot, it carries out a number of processes, from washing and hydra-cooling where vegetables are submerged in fresh water at 4 C to bring down their core temperature and improve shelf life to grading, polishing and packing. The site also has extensive cold-storage facilities, meaning parsnips, carrots and crop production magazine june
104 ON FARM OPINION.Long-term contracts, delivering consistency of supply and quality to customers, have given Scott Hammond the confidence to invest heavily in new technology. other root vegetables can be stored as required. Whatever the sector, we ve found every 10 years or so something comes along which completely changes everything, whether it s the type of machine we use in our processing factory or the equipment out What is dual-clutch technology? Dual-clutch transmissions are beginning to have a significant impact in the car industry, with systems such as Audi s S-Tronic offering drivers the smoothness and driving ease of a full automatic, combined with seamless, lightening-fast ratio changes and better economy than a manual. That s the type of technology in Case IH s CVX range, and the company claims to have been at the forefront of developments in this sector for the past 15 years. In 1999, Case IH was the first manufacturer to launch a tractor with a continuously variable transmission, which it calls CVX. The Puma CVX, which had its first public showing at Agritechnica in 2009 and came to the UK in the spring of 2010, was also the first tractor range to incorporate a closed-loop electronic communication system between engine and transmission. Known by Case IH as Automatic Productivity Management (APM), this allows the operator to set the desired forward speed and leave the system to sort out the most economical way of getting there by selecting the optimum combination of engine speed and transmission ratio. The technology is now available on a wide range of Case IH tractors from 110hp to 370hp and is becoming increasingly popular with farmers who seek maximum versatility, claims Case. There are eight six-cylinder Puma CVX models, from the 131hp 130 CVX, which there in the field. Along with GPS guidance systems, the Case IH CVX transmission is one of those game-changing technologies, as it helps to achieve accuracy, efficiency and timeliness the key to all our field operations, says Scott Hammond. Re-evaluate machinery We re relative newcomers to Case IH, having previously operated a mix of John Deere, Massey Ferguson and Fendt models. When we bought my uncle out of the farm in 2006, we held a farm sale and that gave us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to completely re-evaluate our machinery requirements. We discounted the brands we d used previously and came to the conclusion that Case IH was the only major manufacturer to offer us what we wanted. Ernest Doe at Fakenham delivered three new MXM 155 models which were immediately put to work harvesting vegetables and on trailer work. Within two weeks we d bought a Case IH The Puma CVX had its first public showing at Agritechnica in 2009 and was the first tractor range with Automatic Productivity Management. musters up to 171hp with Power Management, to the 228hp Puma 230 CVX with up to 269hp. Case recently added three Maxxum CVX EP tractors the first four-cylinder models to incorporate this novel transmission. The Maxxum 110 CVX EP, Maxxum 120 CVX EP and Maxxum 130 CVX EP are rated at 110hp, 121hp and 131hp respectively but deliver up to 32hp more during transport, hydraulic and PTO applications with the aid of Power Management. There are also five Magnum CVX models rated from 260hp to 370hp, with the most powerful Magnum 370 CVX delivering up to 417hp with Power Management. This features a four-range CVX transmission which means the tractor can move seamlessly from standstill to its maximum speed of 50km/h, claims Case. MXM 130, in Jan the following year we added a Case IH MXU 135 and an MXM 190 followed in the spring of The change to CVX models happened in 2012, he explians. We could have done it earlier, but even after six years and up to 5500 hours, our Case IH MXM tractors were still doing a good job, so we decided to keep them for longer than normal. We d been vaguely aware of CVX for a long time as a friend of ours had purchased one of the first Steyr CVX model many years ago. At that time our thinking was that the whole CVX concept was a bit niche and something of a dark art. We didn t fully appreciate how it worked or the benefits and didn t really see it as being something for us, so went down a different route. We found we could match forward speed to the type of operations we were doing, but experienced big problems with a number of tractors and the system we were using wasn t that efficient. When we ran one alongside our MXM 155 on the same job, we found that the Case IH tractor was 3kmh faster, recalls Scott Hammond. Until 2006 we hadn t really been that interested in Case IH as a brand and hadn t appreciated the value of the CVX transmissions. When I looked into the concept more closely I realised that it could be a big benefit, so we had a demonstration of a Puma 175 CVX. The tractor wasn t on the farm long enough for the operators to fully grasp how to use Automatic Productivity Management (APM) which lies at the heart of the CVX system, he notes. Actually, APM is pretty simple because it automatically selects the most efficient combination of engine speed and transmission ratio for whatever job you re doing at the time. Anyhow, because A Puma 160CVX was the first tractor with dualclutch transmission the business purchased. 104 crop production magazine june 2014
105 The operator sets the speed on the MultiController and the system automatically selects the best, most efficient combination of engine speed and transmission ratio. of that we remained with powershift transmissions for some time. However, Scott Hammond still hankered after CVX. I realised that it could make all types of work so much easier and more efficient. If I was spraying I could be running along the tramlines at 14km/h, flick down to 8km/h to turn on the headlands, then flick back up to 14km/h when back in work. So when their MXM155 began to struggle a bit for power pulling some new equipment, he decided to swap it out for a Puma 160 CVX. By then, CVX transmissions had been around for 12 years and I d not heard any reports of problems with them. Ernest Doe at Fakenham, our local Case IH dealer, had proved to be first-rate, so I was confident in taking their advice and ordered our first Puma CVX in Very reliable They bought another of the same model, but with a 50hph transmission, in Sept last year. These operate alongside a Maxxum 130 CVX, which came onto the farm because we wanted a four-cylinder CVX tractor for drilling, spraying and harvesting. We also operate a Magnum 335, which is used for all primary cultivation work and has been very reliable. The Puma and Maxxum CVX tractors are used for a wide range of operations, with a wide range of equipment, he explains. Drilling parsnips and carrots is carried out with a 6m Stanhay drill, hoeing with a Garford 6m three-bed machine, spraying with a 3200-litre 24m Berthoud trailed unit and harvesting with a Grimme GZ1700 on 80in beds. Because the land we farm land is up to 15 miles away, how the CVX tractors perform on the road is very important. Even though we could comfortably pull more, we operate 12t Easterby trailers so that even in a worst-case weather scenario and when fully laden we create a minimum damage to rented land that s very important to maintain good relationships with our farming partners, he points out. The tractors typically average 700 hours/yr, but that rises to 1200 hours for the Puma CVX which does most of the harvesting. Normally, we like to change every five years, at a maximum of 5000 hours. I wish now that we d changed to CVX much earlier, as these tractors are so much better, in so many areas. The speed of travel is infinitely adjustable and they re easy to drive because of APM. The system automatically selects the best, The Maxxum 130 CVX came onto the farm because they wanted a four-cylinder CVX tractor for drilling, spraying and harvesting.
106 Tattersett Farms also operates a Magnum 335, used for all primary cultivation work, that will be traded out for a CVX model. most efficient combination of engine speed and transmission ratio. This works away in the background while the operator sets the speed on the MultiController and can take the foot off the throttle. Combining this with RTK guidance allows both steering and engine management to be handled automatically, while the operator can focus on the fieldwork. At a basic level the combination of CVX and APM makes these tractors so simple to use anyone can get the best out of them. However, they also allow professional farms with highly-trained staff to do so much more and get the most out of every operation, in terms of accuracy, output or economy, enthuses Scott Hammond. He finds that for jobs which don t require a lot of power, such as topping parsnips or removing straw from vegetable crops, they can run a 1000rpm PTO with the tractor s engine at tick-over, yet vary the forward speed to whatever is required. That improves the fuel economy and lowers noise levels, which can be important where working close to residential areas. CVX is a serious asset for any professional farming operation that wants The Puma and Maxxum CVX tractors are used for a wide range of operations, with a wide range of equipment, including drilling, hoeing and harvesting. to do the best possible job. When we bought our Magnum 335 in 2010, an ex-demonstrator with just 200 hours on the clock but all the bells and whistles including AFS guidance, CVX wasn t available on that model. We ve clocked up about 1500 hours with it so far and when it s changed I ll have no hesitation in going for a Magnum CVX. Farm facts Tattersett Farms Partnership, King s Lynn, Norfolk Farm size: 400ha Cropping: 240ha of arable crops includes 130ha of parsnips and 32ha of carrots Soil type: Light to medium sandy loam Staff: 12 Tractors: 2x Case IH Puma 160 CVX, Maxxum 130 CVX, Magnum 335, Maxxum 135, Ford 8340 Sprayer: 3200-litre Berthoud trailed unit with 24m boom Harvester: Trailed Grimme GZ1700 Drill: 6m Stanhay drill Grain trailers: 2x 12t Easterby; 2x 10t Marston 106 crop production magazine june 2014
108 Trailed design boosts twin-tine drills capacity High-output direct drilling may be commonplace on the largest farms across the likes of North America, Australia and Russia. But here in the UK and northern Europe, it s a slightly different story. The size of the farming business arguably drives it towards the no-till technique in these aforementioned regions, while here it s more widely adopted by mid-sized and family units. Many of the large estates and contract farming operations have a preference for minimum tillage combinable crop establishmen, but that s changing as interest in direct drilling grows among Farmers using the system can, on average, establish their crops five times faster than under conventional tillage. 108 crop production magazine june 2014
109 Direct drill specialist Claydon has traditionally kept its focus on high output by way of lightweight, mounted drills up to 6m wide for high-speed work. Now it s taking the concept to 8m and beyond with a trailed design. By Martin Rickatson bigger farms, according to direct-drill specialist Claydon. Time pressures, weed-control concerns and machinery running costs, among other factors, are causing owners and managers to rethink and look again at the benefits. What s more, many are wanting to place fertiliser with their seed a technique Claydon has recently added with the introduction last year of fertiliser kits for its mounted Hybrid drill. But seed capacity, and the difficulties of designing a machine beyond a 6m working width, are both limiting factors to mounted-drill capabilities. As a result, Claydon has now introduced a trailed range the Hybrid T. Manufacturing capacity Designed to meet the requirements of 1000ha-plus farms in the UK and Europe, the Hybrid T will be available initially in 6m form, with production limited to just 10 units in 2014 due to restrictions on manufacturing capacity at the company s factory in Suffolk. An 8m version is in the pipeline, though. As with our other machines, we ve trialled this design extensively on our own farm and elsewhere before putting it into The familiar patented twin-tine system is retained on the trailed Hybrid, with the leading unit breaking a path for the following seed coulter. production, says commercial director Spencer Claydon. But while the design has changed for the trailed format, the concept remains the same. The Hybrid T uses the twin-tine crop production magazine june
110 The use of a separate hopper and seeding frame ensures drilling depth remains constant, claims Oliver Claydon. direct strip-till seeding system for which we hold a patent, with leading breaker tines followed by the A shares down the back of which the seed is fed. There are two banks of individually adjustable tungsten-carbide tines spaced 2.5m apart, giving a minimum inter-tine clearance of 550mm, while row spacing can be set at either 300mm or 600mm. Hydraulic reset breakback protection is standard. Drill format is true to other elements of the established Claydon system, with all supporting wheels running on clean, dry, uncultivated ground to ensure an even seeding depth, regardless of the field conditions. In the 6m form, the weight of the drilling chassis is carried on five depth wheels which are centrally mounted, this providing optimum contour following, says Claydon. They re fitted with 10.0/ cleated tyres designed to have good self-cleaning properties. The weight of the seed hopper is carried separately on four transport wheels which run on 380/55 17 cleated tyres. Toolbar options At the rear, double rear toolbar options give operators the flexibility to tailor the finish according to soil types and conditions. Pre-emergence markers are fitted as standard. The fan drive is hydraulic, while seed metering is via an Accord-type system, with rate governed by an RDS Artemis controller. Additional features include touch-button calibration and radarcontrolled variable seeding. Although there s obviously additional steelwork and seed load with the trailed machine, at 50-60hp per metre, power requirement isn t that much more than for the comparably-sized mounted machine, says Spencer Claydon. That means the 6m version, which is a 19-row drill, requires a tractor of hp, while the 8m model with 25 coulters needs hp. The other requirement is for a total of four spool valves to operate the fan, folding wings and coulter lift. The 6m drill weighs 6.75t unladen, and while overall length is 8.75m, the drawbar design means it s very manoeuvrable. With that sort of power up front, claimed hourly workrate for a 6m machine is up to 4ha/hr, while an 8m Hybrid-T should be capable of 5ha/hr. Some 18 months of design, development and testing, including nearly 400ha of field trials encompassing a wide range of soils and conditions, went into the Hybrid-T before commercialisation, says Claydon design director, Oliver Claydon. We ve designed the 6m version with a At the rear, double rear toolbar options mean operators can tailor the finish according to soil types and conditions. Dealer developments Claydon says that the export market for its patented strip-seeding system now extends to cover 26 countries worldwide. Developed on the family farm near Newmarket, on the Suffolk/Cambs border, it s now used to establish crops in a wide range of climatic conditions and soil types, says company boss Jeff Claydon. By our calculations the farmers using the system can, on average, establish their crops five times faster than under conventional tillage, he claims. Not only that, but they can do it at one third of the cost of a plough-based system, with significant yield and environmental benefits into the bargain. In a major departure from the direct retail and support regime it has practised until now, Claydon is currently in the process of recruiting a UK dealer network. This is particularly to ensure that users of its machines in regions some way from its East Anglian home can still be assured of instant support and back-up. Until now we ve preferred to retain what would otherwise be the dealer margin and reinvest it into R&D, says Jeff Claydon. But drill demand is continuing to increase, and this means we re expanding our factory and our business. As a result we need high calibre dealers to help support our sales and service. Our business has grown very strongly during the past few years and we ve a very well respected brand, but we believe that there s significant potential to expand both the business and product range even further. A key to achieving that will be to work closely with strategic partners who share our enthusiasm. Former Simba sales director Guy Leversha has been appointed on an independent basis in a consultancy role to investigate the options for expanding the business in this manner, both in the UK and the 21 other countries in which it operates. His brief includes evaluating the potential of introducing a dealer distribution model in the UK, explains Jeff Claydon. Part of Guy s role will be to identify high-quality, innovative dealers to expand our geographical coverage, stock the Claydon range and demonstrate our products. With wheat prices having fallen back before the recent troubles in Ukraine, reducing establishment costs remains crucial to the future of combinable crop production, says Guy Leversha. That s a tremendous opportunity for Claydon, and I plan to work with both existing customers and potential dealers to help build on this. We want dealers with specialist sales and service staff for the drill, who ll undergo full product training. But they and their customers will still be able to call on the expertise of the company staff in the same way they ve always been able to, where and if necessary. 110 crop production magazine june 2014
111 2m-wide centre section and two 2m-wide hydraulically-folding, contour-following wings, allowing it to fold to 3m for transport. The 8m version uses the same centre section combined with two 3m outer wings, giving a folded width of 2.95m. Both models feature hydraulically-operated transport locks for the wing sections as standard. The use of a separate hopper and seeding frame ensures drilling depth remains constant, claims Oliver Claydon. The 6m Hybrid-T has a 2m-wide centre section and two 2m-wide hydraulically-folding, contourfollowing wings, allowing it to fold to 3m for transport. Both 6m and 8m models have a hopper capacity of 5500 litres, which is equivalent to about 4t of seed and fertiliser. A reversible separator plate, which can be removed completely for seed-only work, allows the hopper to be split 60:40. A CCTV camera is fitted in each section, together with an adjustable seed level sensor, to allow for accurate seed level monitoring so that refills can be timed accurately on large fields. CCTV cameras are also fitted as standard both at the back of the drill, to aid reversing into field corners, and underneath it, so that trash and soil flow can be monitored. There are actually only five tines that aren t possible to see from the driver s seat of a conventional tractor, he says. Options list For sowing into the night, the drill is equipped with its own array of six worklights as standard. On the options list, meanwhile, are a slug pellet applicator and a range of following harrow configurations to ensure full seed to soil contact and leave an even, level field surface. Recognising that drilling preferences vary widely from country to country, and even within countries, Claydon R&D and technical manager Matt Bowe says the R&D and technical manager Matt Bowe says the firm has deliberately designed the drill so that it can be configured in a number of ways. firm has deliberately designed the drill so that it can be configured in a number of ways. It s possible, for example, to set up the drill so that fertiliser is applied behind the leading breaker legs, but as the seed is sown in a band, reducing any risk of scorch, it can alternatively be applied down the same pipes as the seed.
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