In this issue..



In this issue...

Machine might page 46

Hanover highlights heading to LAMMA

Innovation answer page 36

Resilient rewards page 8

New RL favours low risk types

Spring seeds page 14

Volume 17 Number 10

December 2015





Talking Tilth

A word from the editor.

Smith’s Soapbox

Views and opinions from an Essex peasant…..

Robust varieties find favour

High disease-tolerance ratings and untreated yields are the stand-out

characteristics of varieties added to the new Recommended Lists.

Plenty to plan with

spring drilling


Spring cropping is undergoing a revival, but new options throw up

fresh considerations.


Tom Allen-Stevens

Sub editor

Charlotte Lord


Tom Allen-Stevens

Jane Brown

Nick Fone

Robert Harris

Rob Jones

Lucy de la Pasture

Emily Padfield

Mick Roberts

Design and Production

Brooks Design

Advertisement co-ordinator

Peter Walker


Angus McKirdy

Business Development Manager

Charlotte Alexander

To claim two crop protection BASIS points, send an email to, quoting reference CP/37178/1415/g.

*the claim ‘best read specialist arable journal’ is based

on independent reader research, conducted by the

National Farm Research Unit 2014

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In no way does CPM Ltd endorse, notarise or concur with any of the advice,

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Daughter of a malting



Success often breeds success, so have Limagrain found that with

the latest spring barley variety to stem from Concerto?

Mild autumn brings on crop potential

With oilseed rape set up well for the winter, it’s time to plan spring

management to maximise profits.

Bean of bounty

Get the establishment right and you can achieve substantial yields

from a winter bean crop, according to one Suffolk grower.

Innovation under threat?

There’s an unprecedented push by the European business

community to ensure innovation isn’t stifled by regulation.

Britain’s bumper crop laid bare

A survey of growers has offered an insight into how the 2015 crop

performed and how nutrition plans for next year are shaping up.

New tech draws LAMMA PREVIEW

the crowds

A drop in machinery sales across Europe didn’t dampen the

enthusiasm of the 450,000 visitors to Agritechnica.

Smart thinking on drills and combines

Seeding technology has come on in leaps and bounds recently, while

there s a totally new approach on the cards for combine headers.

Cultivators rise to challenge of fresh thinking

Supersized cultivators to ingenious tools that measure soil strength

on the go.

Rapid pace for a

‘legendary’ drill

Väderstad’s Rapid pioneered the cultivator-drill concept and has

become Europe’s most successful seed drill of all time.


Brand move brings ON FARM OPINION

multiple benefits

Moving its fleet over to Deutz-Fahr tractors is delivering cost savings

to one Cambs arable business, with no loss of performance.

Boom or bust for spray deposition

Two growers with BoomControl fitted to their sprayers comment on

the difference boom height makes.

crop production magazine december 2015


How resilient

are you?

I like the word resilience. It

conjures up a sort of defiance.

It’s a fate-may-be-doing-itsbest-to-sink-me-but-I’mstronger-than-that

kind of word.

It’s the word that rang out loud

and proud at the recent launch of

the new AHDB Cereals and

Oilseeds Recommended Lists

(see page 8). And it underlines

something of a shift in mindset for

the industry.

We’ve always been able to tell

which are the resilient varieties

from their disease ratings and

untreated yields. But in the past,

they’ve been relegated to the

‘cheap-to-grow’ category. The

implication has been that you can

chose those types if you’re a bit

unprofessional, but real farmers

aren’t fazed by a 2 for yellow rust,

while a place on Progression

Platform is only earned by

growers who curb their septoria

by slopping litres of SDHIs all

over their crops.

Well growers are now defiantly

spurning this mantra. No longer

should you be shamed if you

didn’t choose the highest-yielding

Group 4 wheat and then spend

the whole of the spring shackled

to your sprayer stalwartly battling

disease. The new mantra is

resilience, and that’s not just in

variety choice, it goes throughout

the arable business.

So as you peruse the

pages of CPM this month, it’s

worth bearing in mind how

resilient your business really

is, and whether there are

areas that need a rethink. There

may be chinks in your armour that

need a titanium patch, or perhaps

there are too few baskets in your

business that are just a little bit

overfull with eggs.

For starters, what proportion of

your arable area is down to spring

crops? They may not improve

your margins, but according to

farm business consultants

Andersons, they make for a

more sustainable business (p45).

We’ve a 12-page review of the

spring-drilled options with

agronomy tips (p14), while

Insiders View reviews Octavia

spring barley (p22).

Oilseed rape gets a fair amount

of criticism for being a crop that

leaves you exposed when

markets take a nosedive, so we’ve

joined a group of progressive

growers as they discuss resilient

strategies for the spring (p26). But

then, if there’s too many eggs in

your oilseeds basket, what about

winter beans? We’ve been to see

a Suffolk grower who’s achieving

impressive results (p32), and

bring you the new pea and bean

Recommended Lists from PGRO.

But perhaps what sets a

resilient arable business aside

from one that’s exposed and

vulnerable is its machineryreplacement

policy. Manufacturers

are acutely aware of this and are

competing hard for their share of

a market that’s shrunk as arable

profitability has dropped.

That made this year’s

Agritechnica show in Germany

one of the most interesting of

recent times. So in a 16-page

special, we have no less than

three reports from the show

stands and vast halls of Hanover’s

Exhibition Grounds, starting on

p46. We’ve looked specifically not

only for the new ideas that will put

arable businesses in good shape,

but those that are set to come to

LAMMA next month, so those

most relevant to UK arable

businesses. Meanwhile,

Innovation Insight tells the story

of the Väderstad Rapid (p62).

For many CPM readers,

however, all this talk of resilience

will be a tad grandmothersucking-eggs.

For those growers,

resilience will be ingrained and

the current downturn in profitability

a predictable part of the arable

cycle, that presents as many

opportunities as challenges.

So if you’re one of those, I’d

urge you to have a read of this

month’s Protecting Chemistry

(p36), that brings an update on

the latest regulatory politics being

played out in Brussels. The

precautionary principle and, some

may say, the over-zealous way

it’s been adopted have put the

industry and its chemical toolbox

at threat. The interesting

development is the Innovation

Principle that’s now being tabled

in response.

The really interesting bit,

however, comes when you

turn this round and gauge the

implication for your own farm.

Any arable business with a vested

interest in pesticide technology

puts itself in good stead by

staying abreast of these issues.

What’s more, if you demonstrate

good stewardship, you go a long

way to quashing the very fears

some NGOs delight in stirring up.

But have you ever asked

yourself whether your business

uses pesticides or is dependent

on them? That puts a whole new

shine on the word ‘resilience’.

Rooting for resilience

With OSR, it’s not what protrudes above

the ground that is the true mark of a

resilient crop, but the root that lies

beneath it. So is yours bigger than mine?

I took a picture of this taproot and

tweeted it on 1 Dec and there’s 10

bottles of quality malt whisky up for

grabs for anyone who’d like to do the

same – CPM has joined with Dupont in

looking for the most burgeoning bulbs

and ravenous radicles.

Dig up a few roots, find one you like,

then take a photo and tweet it, using the

hashtag #root4sure. The ten photos

judged the best by the time the

competition closes on 15 Jan 2016

will earn those who tweeted them

each a bottle of fine malt whisky.

For those not on twitter, you can

still enter by emailing your entry to For

full competition terms and conditions,

go to

Tom Allen-Stevens has a 170ha

arable farm in Oxon and resilience

is what comes in handy when the

family comes for Christmas.

As safe as


It was quite a relief to see

the key science committee in

the EU, EFSA, give glyphosate

a reasonably clean bill of

health in Nov.

Just as glyphosate was

coming up to having its

licences renewed next year,

it seemed to be coming

under sustained attack from

the anti-pesticide NGOs

questioning its environmental

and human health profiles.

The IARC’s World Health

Committee had concluded in

Aug that glyphosate might be

a category two carcinogen.

But that had rather been

put in context a month later

when the same committee

concluded that sausages

and bacon were a class one

carcinogen. The rationalist in

me could but conclude that if

processed meat might be a

class one carcinogen while

glyphosate might be only a

class two, then we should

conclude that Round Up was

confirmed as safer and less

toxic than sausages. My

breakfast plate was now

officially more hazardous

than my spray store.

Equally curious was a

number of studies coming out

last year warning glyphosate

was proving prone to getting

into watercourses. But when

you consider it’s used

by water authorities to

control pernicious

weeds in water courses

you have to wonder

what the problem is.

One of those weeds

might be wolfsbane which is

extremely poisonous. It was

interesting to note wolfsbane

killed a gardener in Wilts last

year when he brushed a

scratch against its flowers

which led to multiple organ

failure. Quite rightly we all

wear protective clothing when

handling agrochemicals but

how many of us worry about

such things when frolicking in

the flowers?

End of year review

Travelling around I sense

that for many 2015 will be

remembered for the bumper

harvest. But that won’t be the

case in this corner of north

east Essex. With only an inch

of rain in June we didn’t have

the necessary moisture to

swell the grain. In spite of

the lack of rain, yields were

surprisingly good but certainly

not in the ‘bumper’ class.

But it’s commodity prices

that have really put 2015

into the ‘forget as quickly

as possible’ category. Quite

simply, the margins at the

bottom of the spreadsheets

are glowing as red as the

nose of Rudolph the Reindeer

until you put the BPS payment

into the equation.

We have managed to keep

our total costs down to less

than £1000/ha and even then

I’m not sure I’m depreciating

machinery as accurately as I

should be. Too often I’m lured

into thinking the running costs

on a four-year-old machine

will be much the same as

a three-year-old one, but

I suspect that it’s more

about hope than any proper

business analysis.

There’s an old adage that

goes along the lines of ‘the

first rule of farming is forget

last year’. In times of both

price and weather volatility,

I can see the logic of being

wary of managing a farm on

the assumption the coming

year will be similar to last

year. However, when last

year’s performance shows a

loss then it takes a braver

man than me to resolve to

simply repeat the process.

So this year, we have half

the farm down to spring

cropping. When blackgrass

control in autumn-sown crops

per acre gets to more than the

cost of half a tonne of wheat it

starts to look unsustainable to

me. And what really adds

With glyphosate now officially

less carcinogenic than sausages,

perhaps you’ll need your PPE

when eating breakfast.

loss-making salt into the

wound of a negative margin

is spraying parts of a crop

off with Round Up in the


The other attractive thing

about the decision to go for

spring cropping is it doesn’t

rule out the chance of fallow.

If prices in March don’t look

much better than they do

now, then fallow will look

increasingly attractive. In all

of this, I like to think I might

be playing a genius long

term game. The plan being

to clean up my blackgrass

with fallow when prices are

low and cash in when we go

back to seeing price spikes.

But of course, this isn’t so

much a brilliant long term

strategy but rather just doing

what I should have done last

year but a year late.

But enough of this

un-festive curmudgeonliness.

We’re soon to welcome in a

new year and a new start. The

only way is up. So I’ll sign off

2015 by wishing you a merry

Christmas, a happy New

Year…. and an early BPS


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.

Email your comments and

ideas to

6 crop production magazine december 2015

Robust varieties find favour

High disease-tolerance

ratings and untreated

yields are the stand-out

characteristics of varieties

added to the 2016/17 AHDB

Cereals and Oilseeds

Recommended Lists. CPM

scrutinises the newcomers.

By Tom Allen-Stevens

Resilience and risk management are the

hallmarks stamped across the new AHDB

Cereals and Oilseeds Recommended

Lists. Tricky diseases such as light leaf

spot and Septoria tritici see an average

lift in resistance ratings with one or two

notable disease-shunning stars.

The 2016/17 RL is a slimmer affair too

–– while 32 varieties have been added,

47 have been swept into niche-market

territory. “A lot of varieties have been

removed because their seed area is low,”

explains RL manager Dr Simon Oxley.

And there’s a new RL relative-risk grid.

This charts where a variety scores on its

untreated yield against agronomic merit,

giving the RL committee a quick way

to judge whether it’ll give up the ghost if

it hasn’t seen a sprayer for a couple

of weeks.

A conventional oilseed rape variety is

back at the top of the AHDB East/West

region OSR RL. Elgar from Elsoms sits

atop a list that’s made some striking

average gains for the past three years,

notes Simon Oxley. “But it’s not all about

yield –– there are some other impressive


“Elgar has a very good disease-resistance

package and a stiff stem –– it looks like an

exciting variety.” Perhaps the most notable

score is a 7 for light leaf spot. This is a first

It’s not all

about yield – there are

some other impressive

characteristics. ”

8 crop production magazine december 2015

New winter OSRs at a glance

Variety Scope and type Breeder/


Points to note

Alizze UK hybrid RAGT E/W output 108; N output 111;

Lodging 8; LLS 7

Elgar E/W conventional Elsoms E/W output 111; LLS 7

Windozz E/W hybrid RAGT E/W output 109

Wembley E/W hybrid LSPB E/W output 109

Angus UK hybrid LSPB Phoma 8

Barbados N conventional KWS N output 110; phoma and LLS 7;

but earliness 4

Nikita N conventional Limagrain N output 110; LLS 7; but phoma 4

V324OL N hybrid Monsanto HOLL premium

Amalie Specific Limagrain TuYV resistance

Source: AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Recommended List 2016/17 (provisional); N, E/W – Scope of

recommendation limited to North or East/West; see for full lists.

New winter wheats at a glance

Variety Scope Breeder/


Points to note

RGT Group 1 RAGT Untreated yield 90; yellow rust 9;

Illustrious mildew and eyespot 7

KWS Barrel Group 3 KWS UK yield 105; N region yield [113];

lodging +PGR 8

KWS Basset Group 3 KWS Specific weight 77.5; lodging resistance 8;

yellow rust 9; but mildew 4

Spyder Group 3 Senova UK untreated yield 91; mildew 9;

yellow rust 8; septoria 6

KWS Group 4 hard KWS UK yield 106; yield on light soils [110];

Silverstone specific weight 78.6; but lodging -PGR [5]

KWS Siskin Group 4 hard KWS UK treated yield 105; untreated yield 96;

septoria 7; mildew and yellow rust 9;

ukp for export [Y]

Belgrade Group 4 hard Elsoms UK treated yield 105; maturity -1; but

specific weight 75.4

Graham Group 4 hard Syngenta Septoria and fusarium 7; lodging +PGR 8

KWS Crispin Group 4 hard KWS Mildew and yellow rust 9; OWBM


Source: AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Recommended List 2016/17 (provisional); [ ] limited data

New barleys at a glance

Variety Type Breeder/


Points to note

Craft Winter 2-row malt Syngenta UK yield 97; lodging 8

KWS Orwell Winter 2-row feed KWS UK yield 102; lodging 8; but mildew 3

Surge Winter 2-row feed Syngenta UK yield 102; untreated yield 89;

rhynchosporium 7; brown rust 8

Bazooka Winter 6-row Syngenta UK yield 107; untreated yield 90; specific

hybrid weight 68.4; lodging 8; rhynchosporium 8

Belfry Winter 6-row Syngenta UK yield 106; untreated yield 90; brown

hybrid rust, rhynchosporium, net blotch 7

Laureate Spring malt + Syngenta UK yield 107; N region yield 109; lodging 7;

brew T but specific weight 66.4

KWS Sassy Spring malt + KWS UK yield 105; N region yield 108; mildew 9

brew T

Origin Spring malt + Limagrain UK yield 104; lodging 7; mildew 8

brew T

Fairing Spring grain Syngenta Grain-distilling potential; specific weight

distilling T

68.3; ripening -2; rhynchosporium and

mildew 8

Ovation Spring feed Limagrain UK yield 107; ramularia [8];

rhynchosporium 7; mildew 8but specific

weight 66.5; brown rust 4

Source: AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Recommended List 2016/17; T – under test for IBD approval;

[ ] limited data

New winter oats at a glance

Variety Scope Breeder/


Points to note

Maestro Husked Senova UK yield 105; but lodging [5]

RGT Lineout Husked RAGT UK yield 102; kernel content [76.7%];

lodging [7]; crown rust 6

Source: AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Recommended List 2016/17; [ ] limited data

Yields have come on, but it’s the disease

resistance ratings that have got Simon Oxley


for the E/W RL, and an accolade it

shares with RAGT’s hybrid Alizze, the

only newcomer recommended across the

UK, with a N region yield of 111.

Something special

Of two LSPB newcomers on the E/W list,

Angus has a phoma score of 8. “Its yield

isn’t headlining, so needs something

special to get on the RL –– that phoma

score is something special.” In the North,

KWS’ Barbados comes in with a shade

less yield than Alizze, but has 7s for both

LLS and phoma. “But it’s relatively late

maturing –– that may be something growers

in Aberdeen will be less than keen on.”

Amalie from Limagrain finally makes it to

the RL on its specific recommendation as

a variety with resistance to turnip yellows

virus (TuYV). “Its yield is just below control,

but the trials aren’t tested without aphicide

and yield can drop by as much as 26%

from TuYV,” notes Simon Oxley.

DK Expower is among four Dekalb

varieties dropped from the OSR lists,

with 11 removed in total.

On the winter wheat RL, one surprise is

A variety can be judged with a new relative-risk

grid that charts where it scores on its untreated

yield against agronomic merit.

10 crop production magazine december 2015





















































Initial seed sales figures, represented by this word cloud, show JB Diego is just hanging on as the most widely sown wheat variety for 2016 harvest, but it’s

lost about 4% market share, mainly to the Group 1 varieties. Group 4 hard type Reflection has leapt straight into the top three, with KWS quality varieties Lili

and Trinity also strong new entries.

Source: NIAB

be wary of its low resistance to lodging,”

he says.

Up the other end of the wheat RL, RGT

Illustrious makes its debut, but with a UK

treated yield of 100, only one point behind

Group 1 leaders Skyfall and KWS Trinity.

“It’s a provisional Group 1, subject to

macro-scale trials carried out by nabim.

But reports over the past three years are

that it has been consistently good so we

expect this to be confirmed next April,”

states Bill Handley.

Amalie finally makes it to the RL on its specific

recommendation as a variety with resistance

to TuYV.

KWS Siskin’s appearance, not as a

Group 2, but as a Group 4 hard type. “It

fell outside nabim’s Group 2 standards for

milling in the UK, with 2015 samples

giving unacceptable results,” reports

AHDB’s Bill Handley. “But it does meet the

ukp bread wheat criteria for export.”

KWS Siskin and Graham from Syngenta

are two varieties with a trail-blazing 7 for

septoria. “All the newcomers are pretty

good for disease, but it’s septoria where

these two stick out, and in untreated trials

they certainly do stick out.” They also

stand out on the new relative-risk grid,

he adds.

KWS Silverstone leads the RL in the

Group 4 hard category. “There’s a yield of

110 for lighter soils, based on limited data,

and that’s where it should be grown in our

view –– those on more fertile sites should

12 crop production magazine december 2015

Achieves the grade

“The RL suggests its protein score is a

shade low, but those figures include data

from plots managed for top yield rather

than top protein and when it’s managed

appropriately it achieves the grade, so we

aren’t too concerned.”

Underpinning its quality credentials is

KWS Siskin fell outside nabim’s Group 2

standards for milling in the UK, reports

Bill Handley.

Graham is one of two wheat varieties with a

trail-blazing 7 for septoria.

a very strong disease package, he notes.

“It’s stiff strawed and gets its high eyespot

rating from the Pch1 gene, believed to

confer resistance. It is relatively late to

mature but that won’t be a big concern

to growers in the areas where it’s likely to

be grown.”

Three new Group 3s join the list, with

KWS Barrel taking the top slot in the

sector. “It’s a soft milling variety with a

North region treated-yield figure of 113, so

it must have a reasonable chance of being

attractive to northern growers.”

Disease-wise the newcomers again

boast some decent ratings, he says, “with

the possible exception of KWS Basset’s 4

for mildew. Spyder from Senova looks

excellent, and sports an untreated yield of

91 –– it’s another one that stands out on

the relative-risk grid.”

The Group 2s and 3s have

slimmed down after a “bit of a

sort out” that’s seen the likes of

Cubanita, KWS Cashel and

Twister dropped after just two

years on the RL.

On the winter barley RL,

six-row conventional types have

been swept aside to make way

for two new hybrids from

Syngenta. Bazooka and Belfry

boast a UK treated yield of 107

and 106 respectively, putting

the six-rows comfortably ahead

of any two-row contender.

“This is now the exciting bit

of the RL,” enthuses Simon

Oxley. “The newcomers have

both come in higher than

Volume with impressive disease

scores and specific weight.

For those drawn to the hybrids,

I can’t see anything here that

would disappoint.”

Bazooka has the edge on

rhynchosporium, a slightly

higher specific weight and a

N yield of 108, he adds.

Craft from Syngenta now tops

the 2-row winter malting varieties,

while KWS Orwell and Surge

from Syngenta lead the two-row

feeds. “There’s not a step jump in

yield, but a gradation in the right

direction. Orwell has a good

agronomic package, while Surge

looks particularly interesting with

a 7 for rhynchosporium.”

The spring barley RL has four

new malting varieties. “Three of

these are dual-purpose varieties,

under test for both brewing and

malt-distilling use –– the RL is

now delivering on the market

demand for these types,”

explains Simon Oxley.

There isn’t anything about Bazooka

that would disappoint the hybrid

barley grower.

Reports over the past three years are

that RGT Illustrious has performed

consistently well in baking tests.

Laureate from Syngenta and

KWS Sassy don’t quite meet list

leader RGT Planet’s 108 for UK

treated yield, but both score

above it in the North, at 109 and

108 respectively. “That’s a big

change from current favourite


Specific recommendation

Fairing from Syngenta has joined

with a specific recommendation

as it’s under test for grain

distilling. “Otherwise there’s

nothing particularly special about

the variety other than its 8 for

rhynchosporium and -2 for

ripening –– it should find favour

further north.”

Ovation from Limagrain has

joined the feed line-up. “It has a

N yield of 108, but a low specific

weight, which may be a problem

unless it’s fed on farm.”

The spring barley list also

gets the biggest clean out, with

11 varieties no longer listed,

including Optic, which departs

after 20 years on the RL.

Two new varieties join the

winter oats list and should satisfy

market needs for kernel content

and specific weight, says

Simon Oxley. “Rhapsody and

Balado had no uptake but

didn’t perform well there and

have been removed. Hopefully

the replacements provide that


“Maestro from Senova leads

on yield but has weaker straw

and both newcomers yield well

above market favourite Mascani.

But RGT Lineout has a package

that gives it the overall edge and

a -2 for ripening is an important

characteristic,” he notes. ■

Plenty to plan with

spring drilling


Spring cropping is undergoing a

revival, but new options throw up

fresh considerations. CPM asks

whether the upswing in spring

plantings is likely to

continue, fields the varieties

on trend for 2016, and gathers

a technical update.

By Lucy de la Pasture

After decades in the doldrums, spring

cropping is witnessing something of a

resurgence. The availability of improved

varieties able to compete with winter

types in terms of profitability, along with

a recognition of the agronomic benefits

spring cropping brings to the rotation have

fuelled the change, with a little added help

from the three-crop rule. So what are the

prospects for spring cropping in 2016?

14 crop production magazine december 2015

Colin Button of Hutchinsons reckons

there’s still been a significant amount of

winter wheat planted this autumn. “It’s too

early for the stats on autumn planting, but

with good drilling conditions this autumn,

people have got on with their winter

cereals. Overall it looks like being a fairly

early planted season,” he reflects.

Big upturn

“Winter barley seems to have had a big

upturn this autumn, with a lot of interest in

Syngenta’s Hyvido hybrid, particularly

because of its competitive performance

in blackgrass scenarios.”

Coupled with a further increase in

the area of hybrid rye planted for AD

consumption, on the face of it, the winter

cereals area looks slightly up this autumn.

But all may not be as it seems, believes

Colin Button.

“There are already indications of pretty

severe blackgrass problems occurring where

autumn crops have been planted early.

Some of the reasoning for moving towards

later planting and spring cropping in these

situations seems to have slipped, under

the pressure to get on while conditions

were good.”

Colin Button worries that some of the reasoning

for moving towards spring cropping seems to

have slipped.

We’re seeing

an increase in spring

wheat types being drilled

in late autumn. ”

There’s an increase in spring wheat being drilled in late autumn.

With a few agronomists

already expressing concern

about the prospects for

controlling some blackgrass

problems conventionally, we may

see a degree of crop destruct

and re-sowing in the spring.

“Where there’s a second phase

of cropping then the crop

planted will need to match the

herbicides already applied to

the failed crop,” he reminds.

Barry Barker of Agrii expects

the winter oilseed rape area to

be down by 10-15% on last

year, so there could potentially

be up to an additional

100,000ha of land available for

spring cropping in 2016. So

how is it likely to play out?

“We’re seeing an increase in

spring wheat types being drilled

in late autumn, partly as an aid

to grassweed management but

they also offer good yield

potential,” he comments.

“The spring wheat market is

fairly polarised with just two

varieties, Mulika and Belepi,

having 75% of the certified

seed area between them.

Mulika is a Group 1 milling

variety and still looks a good

prospect for 2016, even with

lower expectations for decent

milling premiums given the

swing into Group 1 winter

wheat varieties.”

Belepi is a soft feed wheat,

which offers a wide drilling

window from Oct through to

early April and is also early to

harvest. Both varieties share

Robigus in their parentage,

reported to give them a

vigorous, competitive growth

habit which is particularly

beneficial in a blackgrass


Other noteworthy spring

wheat varieties to consider are

Group 4 feed varieties KWS

Alderon and KWS Kilburn, says

Colin Button. Kilburn is the

highest yielding of all the spring

wheats at 106% of controls and,

in spite of being tall, is stiff

strawed, he says. Kilburn is also

one that seems to perform well

in droughty conditions but C2

seed availability will be very

limited this year. Alderon has a

wide drilling window,suiting late

autumn sowing as well as the

spring slot.

Rising stars

According to both seeds

managers, spring barley looks

likely to continue to be a growth

area in the seeds markets, both

highlighting RGT Planet and

KWS Irina as the rising stars

among the malting varieties in

the UK. A newcomer to the

Recommended List in 2015,

RGT Planet, is still under testing

for IBD malting approval but is

widely viewed as the challenger

to the current leading malting

variety, Propino, which accounts

for 27% of seed sales.

“RGT Planet is the top yielding

variety, yielding significantly

higher than Propino,” says Barry

Barker. “Making up 10% of the

seed crop area, there’s every

chance seed stocks will sell out.

There’s been export demand

for KWS Irina, which seems

particularly suited to continental

maltsters. Interest is likely to be


Mulika and Belepi have 75% of the certified seed

area between them, reports Barry Barker.

strongest in the east of England and

south of the M4 corridor with buy-back

contracts available for export,” he believes,

adding that there’s also limited interest

from some maltsters in Odyssey and

Concerto (the major malting variety grown

in Scotland).

“If your ground is too fertile to producing

a malting sample, then there may be an

opportunity for growers in the east of

England to grow Explorer on a high-N


There are plenty of feed varieties to

choose from. Looking at some of the

contenders, Barry Barker highlights

Westminster as a popular variety in the

west of England because it produces long

straw. Among the other feed varieties, all of

which are capable of performing more than

adequately in his view, are Hacker, Kelim,

Garner and Sanette, which has now been

reclassified from a potential malting to a

feed variety.

Dominating the market

“As a realistic alternative to spring wheat

and barley, spring oats provide a good

break in the rotation, with Canyon, Aspen

and Firth dominating the market,” he adds.

The seed trade widely expects a lower

area of peas and beans to go in the

ground next spring in the wake of a very

depressed market due to over-supply.

“Where they’re grown for human

Winter and spring crops redefined by CRD

If blackgrass is an issue Peter Cowlrick reckons

you’re better off planting spring barley because

there’s more chemistry available.

consumption on a buy-back contract then

peas can be profitable. The most popular

marrowfat pea varieties are Sakura and

Kabuki, which account for 27% of seed,”

When is a winter variety a spring variety? When

it’s drilled on or after Feb 1 2016, according to

a recent change in crop definitions by CRD.

Explaining the change, Stuart Jackson, Dow

AgroSciences’ cereal agronomy expert says,

“Variety used to be the deciding factor in the

regulator’s crop definitions, so a wheat variety

that required a degree of vernalisation was

classified as a winter wheat and one that didn’t,

a spring wheat.”

From Jan 2015, the variety has become

irrelevant and it’s the drilling date that’ll determine

whether a crop is winter or spring. “The new

definitions mean that if you’re planting Mulika

(classified as spring wheat by plant breeders) in

Dec or Jan then it’s winter wheat. If you drill

Mulika in Feb it’s a spring wheat.”

The same applies to late sown winter wheat

varieties (as on the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds

Recommended List), many of which now have

latest safe sowing dates into Feb. So Skyfall can

be safely drilled until the end of Feb but if the

drilling date is after Jan 31, then it becomes a

spring wheat rather than winter wheat under the

new system.

So what does this mean in agronomy terms?

In the short term, the change in crop definitions

may throw up some anomalies with product

labels, particularly where there’s no spring

approval on the label,” explains Stuart Jackson.

Within the Dow portfolio, Broadway Star

(pyroxsulam+ florasulam) and Unite (pyroxsulam+

flupyrsulfuron) only have approval for use on

winter wheat varieties.

“The reason there’s no label approval for

spring wheat varieties is that the selectivity isn’t

as good in spring wheat varieties at label rates,”

he explains, meaning there could be potential

issues with crop damage.

“As things currently stand, although it would be

legal to apply Broadway Star and Unite to Mulika

drilled in Dec under the new crop definitions, it

wouldn’t necessarily be safe to the crop and we

won’t be supporting any applications to varieties

on varieties listed on the spring wheat RL,

regardless of when they’re sown.”

With a late sown winter wheat variety such as

KWS Leeds, drilled on Feb 1, it’ll no longer be legal

to apply Broadway Star or Unite because as a

‘spring crop’ it’s not currently on the product label.

“It’s a short term issue that’ll be addressed by

manufacturers as products come up for renewal

and more data is submitted to CRD,” he explains.

“What is important is that growers and advisors

understand the change and check to see if there’s

a spring wheat approval on the label. If not, they

need to find out why. It could just be that sufficient

work wasn’t done for initial approval of product or

there may be an issue with crop safety.”

As far as Bayer products are concerned, it’s as

you were, advises Phillippa Overson, campaign

manager for combinable herbicides. “Our labels

for Liberator (diflufenican+ flufenacet) and Atlantis

(iodosulfuron+ mesosulfuron) specify winter wheat

Growers should check there’s a spring wheat

approval on the label before spraying a

pesticide on a crop drilled after Feb 1,

advises Stuart Jackson.

and this is what we’ll continue to back.

“As far as Atlantis is concerned, we’re advising

growers to apply according to the existing EAMU

where spring wheat varieties are autumn sown,”

she says, reminding growers the EAMU only

covers crops planted before Feb 1 and is at

growers own risk.

Liberator has full label approval for pre-em use

on winter wheat and winter barley and an EAMU

for spring barley, but Bayer don’t support

Liberator’s use on autumn sown spring wheat

crops (although technically a winter crop under

the change).

16 crop production magazine december 2015

says Barry Barker.

“Of the large blues, Prophet

and Daytona have very similar

yields with promising new variety

Campus available commercially

for the first time this year.”

The spring bean market is

likely to remain dominated by

the three established varieties

–– Fuego, Fanfare and Vertigo

(for more on pulses, see article

on p32).

Grassweed control is a major

influencing factor when making

decisions about which crop is

best to plant in the spring on

your farm, advises AICC

agronomist Peter Cowlrick. “If

blackgrass is an issue then

you’re better off planting spring

barley because you’ve more

chemistry available. Spring

barley is also earlier to harvest

than spring wheat, so ideal if

you need an early entry for the

following crop.

“Spring barley needs to

be planted from mid-Feb to

mid-March to achieve the

highest yields. If there’s a

major blackgrass problem,

push drilling back to the end

of March to get a flush of

blackgrass through and spray

it off with glyphosate before

planting,” he says, emphasizing

that good cultural control is the

number one weapon when it

comes to blackgrass.

“Propino has been widely

grown but has the disadvantage

of producing lots of straw, being

about 10cm taller than Tipple

used to be. Irina and Planet are

shorter and both look pretty

robust, although rhynchosporium

needs watching carefully,”

he warns.

“Spring barley needs

1100-1200 ears/m 2 numbers to

achieve its yield potential so

seed rates need to be pushed

to 350-400 seeds/m 2 , higher

on very heavy ground. I would

recommend nitrogen of up to

170kgN/ha is applied, taking

into account what’s available

in the soil.”

One factor to bear in mind

when planting spring wheat is

risk of gout fly damage. “It has

been an increasing threat over

the past two seasons as the

acreage of spring wheat has

increased. Gout fly can be very

damaging and control options

are very limited. The risk will be

higher where the sowing date is

deferred until late March/April

for cultural blackgrass control.”

Mulika would be Peter

Cowlrick’s pick of the spring

wheat varieties, but can get

serious infections of yellow rust

so you need to be mindful.

“Mullika tillers well which makes

it competitive but you can get it

too thick and then bushel

weights suffer. I would ease the

seed rate back by 50 seeds/m 2

and plant 325-350 seeds/m 2 .

Nitrogen applications should be

150-180kgN/ha, depending on

the establishment yield


Cover crop lessons

Although cover cropping has

been a mainstay in organic

regimes for a number of years,

Two applications of glyphosate may be needed, starting up to six weeks

before the planned drilling date.

Linseed – the forgotten break crop?

Spring linseed offers all the agronomic

advantages of a true break crop and can still

leave a margin that leaves its nearest competitor

trailing in its wake, reckons Sam Deane of

Premium Crops. Modern varieties are earlier and

easier to harvest, he says, making linseed a viable

spring alternative to other options.

“On average, spring linseed produces a

gross margin of £443/ha. This gives a £223/ha

advantage over the nearest combinable break

crop. While many farmers will be planning spring

barley as a low input crop carrying a gross

margin, linseed still leads on the gross margin

stakes by £30/ha.”

When it comes to blackgrass, linseed

shouldn’t be forgotten as a management tool,

he continues. “Spring linseed comes with a

solid chemical armoury, making it an excellent

cleaning crop. By combining Avadex Excel

(triallate) pre-emergence with Centurion Max

(clethodim) post-emergence, linseed offers a

two-pronged attack against blackgrass.”

In extreme cases, drilling can be delayed

into May giving growers a chance to get an

additional stale seedbed before the linseed crop

is drilled, he adds.

As well as a strong approach to blackgrass,

linseed comes with a more than adequate toolbox

to deal with broadleaf weeds. “Weeds such as

charlock, cranesbill and runch, which may have

slipped under the radar in OSR rotations, can be

brought to heel with a pre-emergence application

of Callisto (mesotrione). Any survivors can be

mopped up with a wide selection of post-em

options,” explains Sam Deane.

Linseed’s aggressive rooting ability makes it

a good soil conditioner, he maintains. “Its fine

roots will work through the hardest of pans and

restructure soils that have suffered damage.”

French research looking at the role of linseed

in rotations found it gave a yield increase of

4% to the following winter wheat crop when

Spring linseed comes with a solid chemical

armoury against both broadleaf and grassweeds.

compared with wheat following OSR. “This was

attributed to the improved rooting ability of the

wheat in linseed-conditioned ground and the

reduction of slug pressure compared to wheat

following OSR. These two factors combined

allow first wheat crops to get up and away,

with no issues to check growth in the backend

of the year.”

incorporating them into the rotation

is still a steep learning curve for most

growers, seed trade and agronomists,

believes Peter Cowlrick.

“Techniques for the destruction and

removal of the cover crop very much

hinges on the cultivation kit and type of

drills available in any onesituation. Drills

such as the Sumo DD and Cross Slot are

capable of drilling into a tall, bulky crop

which can then be destroyed using

glyphosate. If the cover crop is extremely

bulky then it may be necessary to spray

twice with glyphosate to first open the top

up in order to get enough penetration to kill

weeds underneath the canopy.”

Allelopathic effect

Black oats and vetch mixtures are popular,

with vetches supplying N fixation while the

oats are reported to have an allelopathic

effect on some weeds. Where clovers and

vetches are included in the cover mix then

destruction with glyphosate may not be as

reliable –– legumes are one of the few

weeds poorly controlled by glyphosate.

Peter Cowlrick points out that full control

may not be necessary depending on the

following crop and chemistry available. “An

effective alternative to glyphosate for cover

destruction are products containing 2,4-D

plus glyphosate, which should give better

results on vetch and clover.”

On its trials site at Lamport, Agrovista

has been looking at the role cover

cropping can play in the rotation to

manage difficult blackgrass. Niall Atkinson

is the man with his feet on the ground at

Lamport and stresses that minimal soil

disturbance is absolutely vital when drilling

into a cover crop.

Drill setup key to cover crop success

When it comes to crop establishment after

cover crops, drill setup is extremely important,

says Agrovista’s Niall Atkinson.

“Although direct drilling is preferable, it’s not

essential. Much of the work at Lamport has

been done with the Great Plains Spartan, but

conventional drills can do a good job, provided

they’re adjusted to minimise soil disturbance.

The cover crop has been restructuring and

working the soil so you don’t necessarily need

to direct drill, though a disc drill is preferable to

a tine drill,” he notes.

“To adapt the Väderstad Rapid to drill into

cover, lift the System Disc clear of the soil. If

you have GPS then keep the bout markers up,

To adapt the Väderstad Rapid to drill into cover,

lift the System Disc clear of the soil.

make sure the track eradicators and rear

scratcher tines are also lifted out of the ground.

On the Väderstad Rapid there are different

coulter settings against the disc and this is

factory set on the middle setting. You’ll probably

need to adjust this to the top setting so that the

disc is cutting the slot and the coulter sits above,

placing the seed.”

For the Claydon hybrid drill, the standard

setup has too much soil disturbance, he advises.

Either change to the wet weather setup or to the

low disturbance option using the disc to cut

through the trash. Dale has also developed a

modification for their Ecodrill especially for use

in cover crops, replacing the opening tine with a

disc instead.

One of the things growers will find really

noticeable is that the seedbed will always look

scruffier than normal, warns Niall Atkinson. “The

cover crop is still fastened to the ground by its

roots and the drill will just comb through the

material on the surface. That means drilling

will probably be slower than usual to avoid soil

disturbance, more likely 8-10km/h instead of

12-14km/h. On the plus side, the roots of

the cover crop hold the soil, minimising soil

movement and therefore blackgrass germination.”

Getting the seed rate right is another key to

successful establishment into a cover crop. “At

A Great Plains Spartan is used at Lamport, but

conventional drills can do a good job, provided

they’re adjusted to minimise soil disturbance.

Lamport we’ve been using up to 500 seeds/m 2

–– you don’t want to be in the conventional

region of 250-350 seeds/m 2 ,” he advises.

As far as fertiliser application goes, he prefers

combined application at drilling if available. If

not, apply fertiliser just ahead of the drill, with

50% of planned nitrogen applied to the seedbed,”

he suggests.

Another point to be aware of is that you may

not get full closure of the drill slots when surface

conditions are slightly damp. “It’s preferable to

run a set of rolls over 24 hours after drilling when

the surface has dried a little to complete closure

of the drill slots and maximise soil-to-seed

contact,” he adds.

The reasoning is simple, he says. The

cover crop (which has to be established by

Oct 1 under the Basic Payment Scheme

rules) allows a healthy population of

blackgrass to establish underneath

the canopy, depleting the seedbank,

he explains. The main objective is to kill

this off and not stimulate further blackgrass

germination when drilling the following

spring crop.

“The idea is to collapse the canopy to

gain access to the blackgrass and other

weeds lurking underneath. You generally

need to burn off the cover about six weeks

before the planned drilling date, so to

establish a spring cereal crop you’ll

be looking at a glyphosate (2 l/ha plus

adjuvant, such as Companion Gold)

Diversity key to preventing glyphosate-resistant blackgrass

On the very day the news broke that bacterial

resistance to last-resort antibiotic, colistin, has

been detected in China, a cross-industry group

gathered at Harper Adams University, under the

auspices of the Soil and Water Management

Centre, to discuss the unthinkable –– the

possibility of glyphosate-resistant blackgrass.

It hasn’t happened yet but if we don’t

practice good stewardship then glyphosate

resistance, in some form or other, will appear

in the UK, believes Barrie Hunt of Monsanto.

A sobering thought, with glyphosate currently

forming the last chemical defence for UK

growers against herbicide-resistant blackgrass,

and there are more than 1.2 million ha with

some degree of blackgrass resistance in the UK.

Glyphosate resistance is already a major

problem in the United States, where the

whole-scale switch into transgenic crops

massively increased the selection pressure on

the once stalwart herbicide. Professor Thomas

Mueller, from University of Tennessee, outlined

their experience with glyphosate-resistant

weeds to illustrate how growers in the UK

can perhaps learn lessons and avoid fighting

a desperate rear-guard action.

“The uptake of Roundup Ready was huge in

the US. Farmers liked it because it was easy, it

worked and yields went up,” explained Thomas

Mueller. “Farms got bigger because timeliness

was no longer important and farmers no longer

cared about, or even understood, basic weed

control principles. Glyphosate alone captured

50% of the total herbicide market and we got


In the US, our driver weeds are Conyza

canadensis (Canadian fleabane) and Palmer

amaranth (pigweed) and resistance has spread

rapidly across states. The cost of herbicide

programmes has increased by 200-250% in

the effort to control them. Here in the UK, your

driver weed is blackgrass.”

In Tennessee, soil erosion is a big problem

and no-till is normal practice because of the

benefits it brings in terms of soil stabilisation,

structure and porosity. “Where we have

glyphosate resistance, some growers have

had to return to tillage, losing all the benefits

of the no-till regime. There’s also a renewed

awareness of the importance of the seed bank,

with some growers resorting to costly hand

weeding to reduce seed return.”

The parallels to the UK are obvious ––

herbicide resistance, a driver weed and reduced

tillage systems. Harper Adams visiting professor,

Dick Godwin, told the assembly that no-till is

seeing a resurgence in popularity in the UK

because of the significant operational and

cost benefits it offers to growers, as well as

improvements to soils and erosion.

“No-till also throws up some big challenges

to growers – one of which is the control of

grassweeds and weeds not controlled by

glyphosate,” he said, explaining that stale

seedbeds and a reliance on glyphosate is one

of the fundamentals in a no-till situation.

Agrii has been looking at the impact of

establishment systems on blackgrass control at

their Stow Longa site. “Given current financial

restraints, every farmer is looking to reduce

establishment costs,” said Andrew Richards

of Agrii.

“Every agronomist is seeing a reduction in

available chemistry and what we do have, in

many cases, has a reduced level of efficacy. We

need sustainable establishment systems that

perform under a range of conditions and we

need to think about the pressure we’re putting

glyphosate under.”

One of the results from the Agrii work that

challenges the beliefs of the most evangelical

of no-tillers, is that rotational ploughing can

bring useful cultural control of blackgrass. “If

ploughing is utilised in a year of high seed return

there are huge benefits in fully inverting the

soil in terms of blackgrass control. If shallow

cultivations are then employed, the majority of

blackgrass seed remains undisturbed at depth,”

said Andrew Richards.

But won’t ploughing lose all the benefits the

no-tillers have strived to obtain? It’s something

Dick Godwin believes we need to find out.

“Although ploughing is contrary to the no-till

religion, we need to find the answer to the

question, what is the effect of occasional

Experts lined up to sound warnings on glyphosate

resistance – (from L to R) Barrie Hunt, Dick

Godwin, no-till farmer Edward Bradley, Thomas

Mueller, Tim Chamen of CTF Europe, Andrew

Richards and Prof Shane Ward of SWMC.

ploughing in a no-till system?”

Barrie Hunt pointed to the new glyphosate

stewardship guidelines which highlight that

one of the high risk factors for developing

glyphosate resistance is ‘no cultivation’, as is

commonplace in the US. “Sustainable use of

glyphosate is business critical for UK growers

and, by using integrated programmes, we’ve a

chance of keeping resistance at bay for a few

years to come.”

It’s a message that’s being shouted from the

rooftops but some growers still want the

answer to resistant blackgrass to come in a

can, suggested some of the speakers. When

asked why we’re not getting new chemistry

coming through, Andrew Richards made a valid

point. “If we had something new, how long

would it last? We need to learn how to make

chemistry last longer and prevent it breaking

down to resistance by changing practices.

The efficacy of Atlantis has lasted less than

10 years.”

Diversity is the key to avoid falling into the

resistance trap, said Thomas Mueller. “Diversity

in the chemistry we use to control blackgrass,

diversity in our cropping and diversity in our

cultivation systems.”

Cultivation system Blackgrass ears/m 2

Min till, Claydon OSR, Claydon Oct, Claydon Sept, Claydon Sept 501

Plough, Claydon OSR, Claydon Oct, Claydon Sept, Claydon Sept 266

Claydon Oct, Plough OSR, Claydon Sept, Plough Oct, Plough Oct 1.3

Source: Agrii Cultivations Systems study 2010-2015. Blackgrass population in 3rd wheat Edgar, 2015

20 crop production magazine december 2015


Lamport blackgrass trial results

Blackgrass heads/m 2 Year 1 Year 2

(2013/14) (2014/15)

Winter wheat with full herbicide 55 274

Winter wheat – untreated ≥2000 ≥2000

Stale seed bed fb spring wheat 15 36

Cover crop fb spring wheat

Daughter of

a malting



Success often breeds success, so

have Limagrain found that with

the latest spring barley variety to

stem from Concerto? CPM

reviews Octavia –– a potentially

dual-purpose variety that appears

to meet both farmers’ and

end-users’ needs.

By Jane Brown

It really

opens up the

market. ”

Concerto –– and more recently Odyssey

–– have become market favourites for

spring barley growers and maltsters in

the UK over the past six years. But now

their descendent Octavia looks as if it

might steal the limelight.

A cross between Odyssey –– itself a

daughter of Concerto –– and SY Universal,

Octavia appears to bring another step

forward in terms of yield, and could offer

growers notable flexibility as a non-GN

variety with potential for both distilling and

brewing use.

Malting quality

“To have a successful dual-purpose

variety you need the right malting quality

as well as good yields in both England

and Scotland,” says Mark Glew from the

variety’s breeder Limagrain. “Both Odyssey

and SY Universal were high yielding

non-GN varieties in their day, and we

were looking for competitive parents on

both sides.”

Although non-GN varieties lagged

behind conventional variety yields in the

past, they’re now equally competitive, and

don’t carry the risk of glycosidic nitrile

contaminating the resulting whisky.

In recent years, the focus on breeding

for yield has led to consistently later

maturing crops –– a trend which

causes considerable difficulties for

Scottish producers, says Mark

Glew. “Often Scottish growers

have to spray crops off with

glyphosate to get them to

ripen, and then the timing of

harvest is even more critical,

as if it’s delayed due to bad

weather, the straw just collapses.”

Octavia scores -1 in terms

of ripening days compared with Concerto,

making it the earliest of the distilling

varieties. However, the ADHB Cereals and

22 crop production magazine december 2015

Oilseeds Recommended List scoring tends

to focus on ear ripening not straw, which in

practice isn’t tremendously helpful for

growers, he adds.

Fitter in the straw

“I went to look at trials in North Scotland

this year and in a lot of crops the ears

were ripening before the straw, which isn’t

what you want with malting barley as it

germinates so easily. It wasn’t something

I was expecting to see but the Octavia was

definitely much fitter in the straw than the

other varieties.”

Another problem with a lot of spring

barley varieties is their lack of tillering

–– something which breeders have now

started to focus on. “Concerto is quite low

tillering so you need to keep the seed rate

up,” says Mark Glew. “However, Octavia

and some other new varieties have much

higher tillering –– this year some crops had

more than 800 ears/m 2 compared to an

optimum of 775 ears/m 2 . Having lots of

tillers can help crops rebound better from

drought in the spring, but if a crop is too

dense it can present a lodging risk so

we’ll continue our work on tillering and

seed rate trials.”

Although the variety isn’t the highest

scoring in terms of brackling, it’s short

strawed, and the RL scores suggest it

has a fairly robust disease package,

with very good mildew, yellow rust and

rhynchosporium resistance. Its brown rust

and ramularia scores aren’t quite so good,

but are comparable to most other varieties

on the RL.

Limagrain’s Ron Granger says he’s

A cross between Odyssey and SY Universal,

Octavia appears to bring another step forward

in terms of yield.

somewhat surprised at Octavia’s brackling

score of 6, and wonders if it’s the result

of its earlier ripening compared to other

varieties in trials. “You don’t want any

malting barley waiting in the field once it’s

ripe. As soon as a commercial crop is

ready farmers will get it cut straight away

rather than wait for other varieties to ripen,

so I don’t think it’ll be an issue on farm,”

he says.

Even so, it’s worth keeping an eye on

seed rates. “Like most spring barleys,

the optimum seed rate is 350 seeds/m 2 .

If conditions are perfect you could drop

it back to 325, and increase it a bit if

conditions aren’t so good, but don’t go

Its early ripening will find favour with Scottish

growers, reckons Mark Glew.

crop production magazine december 2015



Don’t rush the crop into the ground, advises

Ron Granger –– wait for the right soil conditions

and drill at 350 seeds/m 2 .

too high or you could have problems

with lodging.”

Agronomically, Octavia is very similar to

other spring varieties. “You don’t want to

rush it into the ground –– be patient and

wait for the soil and weather conditions to

be right so it can grow straight away,” says

Ron Granger. “You don’t want any spring

barley sitting in cold soil as it’ll affect

potential yield.”

He recommends applying about

two thirds of its fertiliser requirement at

sowing, with the rest when leaves meet

between the rows. “Get it on early if you’re

aiming for a low nitrogen grain sample.

Most growers in the UK use about

110-120kgN/ha. Interestingly, many

growers in Scotland combine fertiliser

and seed application at the time of drilling

both to get the crop off to a good start

and alleviate workloads.”

Healthy plant growth

Manganese fertiliser, either as a seed

treatment or foliar application, is also

advised for spring barley crops to ensure

no check in healthy plant growth. The

fungicide programme for Octavia should

be fairly standard, too. “I’d use an SDHI

and triazole mix at GS 30-31 and a lower

rate top-up at GS 37-39, but applications

need to be well targeted to reduce

significant disease pressure on the

growing crop.”

Octavia’s yields have been stable over

years and in different scenarios, giving a

national average trial score of 103% of the

control. However, the yield results in the

East and North –– where the crop is most

likely to be grown –– both come in at 105,

says Mark Glew. “I wouldn’t grow it in the

West –– it’s just not suited to the region.

“I’d like to say I spotted Octavia’s

potential in trials very early on, but we were

looking for high yield and good malting

performance, so it wasn’t until the combine

went in and the brewing and distilling trials

got under way that I realised how good it

was,” he adds.

Most farmers in the East will be growing

for the brewing market; with a target

specification above 1.6% nitrogen, while

those in the North and Scotland will likely

be growing for the distilling sector, with a

specification below 1.55% nitrogen. “It does

tend to have quite low grain nitrogen, so if

you’re growing it for brewing you might want

to manage the nitrogen up a bit,” says Mark


Yields look good in the North and East, but

skinning is often a problem in spring malting

barley and Octavia is no exception.

Yield progression is the main advantage

Pat Atkin has grown Concerto for a long time

and wanted to switch to a variety that was

related to it.

Pat Atkin is the second generation of seed

growers at Field Farm, Thetford, Norfolk, and

has grown Octavia for the past two years.

“We’ve sandy loam soil over chalk, which isn’t

suitable for growing wheat, so we grow both

winter and spring barley for seed,” she says. As

well as 190ha of arable land, she keeps a herd

of Aberdeen Angus cattle, so grows a rotation of

grass, oilseed rape, sugar beet, fodder beet,

maize and potatoes.

“We typically grow 20ha of varying spring

barley varieties for seed –– last year we had

8ha of Octavia for seed and another 8ha which

I grew commercially for the cattle,” says Pat

Atkin. “I’ve grown Concerto for a long time and

really like it, so when Limagrain were talking

of changing varieties I wanted something that

was related to Concerto. It really suits our soil

–– there’s no point growing something that’s

unsuitable for your land.”

Sown in late Feb/early March with a power

harrow drill, Pat Atkin has found Octavia very

straightforward to grow. “We apply potash and

phosphate at drilling, and then 180kg/ha of

a 38:19 nitrogen/sulphur fertiliser in March,

followed by 100kg/ha of 46% nitrogen in April,”

she says.

“The agronomy depends on the year, and we

just tend to follow Hutchinsons’ advice, but we

haven’t had any particular problems with Octavia

or Concerto.” As a seed crop, plant growth

regulators are prohibited, but despite Octavia’s

You need an increase in yield to pay for growing

costs that have risen, points out Pat Atkin.

score of 6 for lodging, Pat Atkin hasn’t had any

problems with its standing ability. “It stands well

and is easy to combine,” she says.

“For me, yield is very important. If it doesn’t

yield I soon start to complain because it costs

the same to grow. And it has to cope with our

standard care.” Over the years, Pat Atkin and

her father have seen many varieties come and

go, and they’ve learnt what works well on the


“My father would have been happy with

4.9t/ha –– now we expect about 6.2t/ha ––

although this year I think we’ll have achieved

7.4t/ha. You need that increase in yield because

all other costs have increased over the years so

it has to pay for itself.”

24 crop production magazine december 2015

“However, if you’re growing it on strong

land as part of measures to control

blackgrass, that should naturally boost

the nitrogen content a bit anyway.”

One potential slight drawback is

Octavia’s bushel weight score, which is a

touch on the low side at 66.7kg/hl. “On

average, bushel weights have come down

over the years, which is what made Sienna

so good last year,” he adds. “Octavia is

much in line with the other varieties on the

list, but ideally, we’d like varieties to have

higher bushel weights, and there’s a push

towards this.”

Despite the variety’s promising

performance, Gleadell’s Stuart Shand

doesn’t expect it to command much of the

market just yet. “We’ve had three fantastic

malting barley years in Europe, and in that

time global beer sales have been going

down. Distilling sales have also fallen

End users note there’s currently an over-reliance

on Concerto in the Scottish distilling industry.

Octavia at a glance

UK treated yield (% control) 103.1

UK untreated yield (% treated control) 87.3

Nitrogen content (%) 1.4

Screenings (% through 2.5mm sieve) 3.2

Bushel weight (kg/hl) 66.7

Hot water extract (l deg/kg) 316.6

Resistance to lodging 6.3

Disease resistance

Mildew 8.9

Yellow rust [7]

Brown rust 4.7

Rhynchosporium 6.2

Ramularia 6.8

Source: 2015/16 HGCA Recommended List; [ ]

– limited data.

–– and although the latest report points

to them going back up again there’s still

far too much malting barley around,”

he says.

At one point following harvest 2015,

the UK had a malting barley surplus of

750,000t –– and Stuart Shand anticipates

another large crop next year. “If farmers

want a chance of getting a premium they

should be putting their spring barley on

contract. There are plenty around, but

Octavia is still in trials so we don’t have

any contracts available for it. There may

be others available, but if a farmer can’t

get a contract for anything they shouldn’t

grow it.”

Farmers getting average yields,

excluding Basic Payments, will likely

have made a loss on spring barley this

year, he adds. “But a lot of people have

been getting 7-7.5t/ha compared to the

average of 5.3t/ha –– and then it does

pay.” In Gleadell trials Octavia has

yielded well and produced good quality,

but there are plenty of other competitors

coming through.

“Our growers are very happy with it,

but there are a lot of good spring barley

varieties out there. Breeders have done

a very good job and varieties are a

lot more robust than they were a few

years ago.”


One of the big advantages of

Octavia is that it’s being trialled as a

dual-purpose variety –– so if growers get

low nitrogen it can be used for distilling

and real ales, while if it produces high

nitrogen it can go for lager brewing. “It

really opens up the market. Customers

also like dual-purpose varieties because

there are fewer segregation issues

in store.”

Simon Barry at Highland Grain didn’t

handle any Octavia this year, but did see

a sample from one of his members.

“Skinning was a common factor across

all varieties this year, and Octavia was no

exception,” he says. “Quality-wise it looks

very similar to Concerto, but we don’t yet

know how it performs for the end user as

the trials take so long to carry out. It’ll be

a good six months before the trials data

is published, which will be too late for

farmers’ spring-sowing decisions.”

In Scotland, producers and end users

are crying out for a variety that can cope

with wet, extended harvests like 2012

and 2015, he adds. “Optic is the only

variety that resists skinning –– it’s been

given a stay of execution for one year but

Octavia is coming into a malting barley market

that’s carrying a surplus and has a choice of

good varieties, notes Stuart Shand.

is so outclassed in other ways. Virtually all

other varieties have this propensity to skin

–– we’re desperate for breeders to find

something that resists it.”

Given that Octavia only made it onto

the RL last year, and will be undergoing

full tests with the Institute of Brewing

and Distilling this winter, it’s unlikely to

command much of the market until 2017 at

the earliest. “It’s due full IBD approval next

May. If the end users like it, they’ll add it to

their buying lists,” says Mark Glew.

“They love Concerto because it’s such

good quality –– and at 316.6 l deg/kg

Octavia has the highest hot water extract

of any variety on the list, so it’s very

promising. But you can’t push a malting

variety into the market –– it has be drawn

in by demand.”

Simpsons Malt is one of the end users

taking part in the IBD trials, and has

been involved with carrying out micro-malt

evaluation trials with Octavia. “It’s

performed very well in distilling trials to

date, with a hot water extract above

Concerto, and its brewing performance is

on par with the controls,” says the firm’s

Paul Huntley.

“We’re very interested in looking at the

variety because there’s an over-reliance on

Concerto in the Scottish distilling industry.

It takes a huge acreage in Scotland and

most people feel a little uncomfortable

having all of their eggs in one basket.

As an early maturing variety it just helps

to spread the risk.” ■

Search the CPM Article Archive

Want to know the Insiders View on a specific

variety? The search facility on the CPM

website allows you to find and download

articles from previous issues using keywords,

such as ‘Reflection’.

crop production magazine december 2015


Those in

the top 10% are

achieving better returns

because they get

everything spot on with

their crop, from corner

to corner.

Mild autumn brings on

crop potential

With oilseed rape set up well

for the winter, it’s time to

plan spring management to

maximise profits. CPM joins

the discussion with a group

of progressive growers.

By Tom Allen-Stevens

As winter closes in, the growers taking

part in the Driving Up Oilseed Rape Yields

initiative are upbeat about the crop.

“It’s looking marvellous,” comments

John Haynes on the Essex/Herts border.

26 crop production magazine december 2015

“There’s a good soil structure, and we’ve

had ideal growing conditions this autumn,

so it’s all set up for the winter.”

The exceptionally mild Nov has made

all the difference, notes Lincs-based

Andrew Ward. “The amount of growth is

nothing short of staggering. We had some

backward crops that are now looking

quite proud.”

And it’s the same in the Cotswolds,

reports Hamish Campbell. “All of our

OSR has just kicked into life –– even the

later-drilled crop has really romped on.

The mild weather means it’s put down a

good taproot, but there’s not too much leaf.”

Farming in a joint venture with Cotswold

Farm Park, farms manager Martin

Parkinson notes the early drilled crop

needed some canopy management early

on. “We had to apply some metconazole

to the forward-looking crop at the

beginning of Oct,” he reports.

Derby grower James Chamberlain

agrees. “The crop started to grow and

never looked back. It’s now fully charged

up, ready for the winter.”

But just six weeks previously, it was

quite a different picture. The growers are

part of a group that’s come together at

meetings over the year to consider how

new and different agronomy techniques

can enhance field performance, with a

view to achieving an OSR crop that has

the potential to yield more, and yield more


The last time the group gathered in mid

of an unnerving start to the season, is

Richard Means from Strutt and Parker.

With him, he’s brought client data on

yields and crop performance this year,

compared with previous seasons (see

charts below).

A late harvest meant Martin Parkinson didn’t

manage to drill 20% of his planned crop.

Oct, a late harvest had meant a delayed

establishment. In the Cotswolds, most of

the crop lies 1000 feet above sea level.

That means a timely establishment is

crucial, says farms manager Martin


“We were still combining spring barley

well into Sept, so the OSR was never

going to be established on time. In the

end we stopped drilling on 11 Sept –– we

were aiming for 400ha, but only managed

320ha. Where we are, we’ve learned

there’s no point putting in a late crop.”

John Haynes had his now familiar

trouble with cabbage stem flea beetle.

“Some of the crop was treated with Cruiser

(thiamethoxam), but in the end we took the

decision to take out 63ha of the worst

affected fields and replant with winter


Joining the group, against this backdrop

Record year

“It’s been a record year for both wheat and

barley yields, but the picture doesn’t look

quite so rosy for OSR. Yields are slightly

down and below the five-year average.

The loss of neonicotinoid seed dressings

has surely paid a price,”he comments.

“We may now be seeing a yield plateau,

and with the drop off in price, this is

bound to curtail the progression of the

crop. It’s also the most costly crop to

grow when considering input costs.”

The difficulty, he points out, is that the

crop typically remains the best option as a

rotational break. “Break crops are very

volatile (see chart) and unlike other crops,

there are no real trends. Where there’s no

consistency, as is the case with pulses,














OSR is the most costly crop to grow

when considering input costs, points out

Richard Means.

it’s difficult to make the case for proper

investment in a crop. Spring beans could

be an option, however, if you’re prepared

Average crop yields for cereals and break crops in East Anglia







1st Wheat

2nd Wheat

s Winter Barley

Spring Barley



2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015







s s s


s s s





Winter OSR


Winter Beans



Spring Beans

Harvest Peas


Once they’d polished off 63ha of John Haynes

OSR, the cabbage stem flea beetle started on

other activities.


2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Source: Strutt and Parker

crop production magazine december 2015


Prospects for the OSR crop

Harvest 2016 00 OSR LEAF Premium HEAR V316 OL


Yield (t/ha)* 1 3.75 3.76 3.38 3.76

Price (£/t) 250 265 315 275

Oil Bonus (£/t) 20 20 0 20

Output (£/ha) 1,015 1,072 1,065 1,109

Seed (£/ha) 68 68 105 91

Fertiliser (£/ha) 243 243 243 243

Sprays (£/ha) 234 124 234 234

Variable costs (£/ha) 545 545 582 568

Gross Margin (£/ha) 470 527 483 541

Fixed Costs (£/ha) 491 491 491 491

Net Margin (£/ha) -21 36 -8 50

Net margin excludes Basic Payment and other income; *1 Strutt & Parker five-year average yields for East Anglia; HEAR £65/t

premium over 00, harvest move; HOLL £25/t premium plus oil bonus, harvest move.

for the later harvest.”

This isn’t an option Hamish Campbell

would entertain. “Where we are, you can

forget peas, and you’d probably have to

drill beans at a higher rate than you’d

combine them. There’s no sugar beet and

there are no anaerobic digesters, so we

have to make the most of the OSR crop.”

The OSR area across East Anglia has

dropped, according to Strutt and Parker

figures, reports Richard Means. “And with

good reason –– OSR gross margins and

net returns are not overly exciting (see

table above). With greater pressure from

CSFB, turnip yellows virus, slugs and

pigeons compared with all other crops,

John Haynes’ backward crop received a

biostimulant and now it’s all looking pretty even.

you need a premium to justify the added

risk and extra management.”

Aiming for the premium markets is one

Prepare for thick crops and high disease levels

The biggest effect noticed was on how Toprex

evened up the crop, says James Southgate.

Reports suggest it’s been a high phoma year,

says Syngenta technical manager James

Southgate. “The disease came in early and

the mild conditions have been ideal for its

development. Crops that started the season

small would have been particularly vulnerable.”

Unlike light leaf spot, phoma will only go

through one life cycle in the crop, but unprotected

leaves can be infected at any time from

ascospores landing on the crop. Early infections

and those coming into backward crops can lead

to damaging stem canker later in the season.

“Fungicides tend to offer about 4-5 weeks

protection, but susceptible varieties not treated

until Nov, may already have the fungus moving

down towards stems.”

But he believes a bigger concern coming

into the spring will be managing canopies

that have now thickened up. “We reckon a lot

of these crops will need a fungicide with

growth regulatory activity, such as Toprex

(difenoconazole+ paclobutrazol).”

Introduced this year, Toprex can be applied

between stem extension (GS31) and green bud

(GS51). ADAS trials have shown a yield benefit

of almost 0.5t/ha. “The earlier you apply it the

bigger the effect on reducing the height of the

main raceme and therefore less likelihood of

lodging. The later timings are more suited to the

smaller crops coming out of winter to encourage

side branching,” he explains.

“But the feedback we got from those who

used it this year was that the biggest effect

was on how Toprex evened up the crop. That

means you can target sclerotinia sprays better

–– potentially saving a fungicide application

Phoma infections appear as pale leaf spots from

which the fungus spreads via the petiole to reach

the stem.

–– and a crop that ripens evenly.”

Martin Parkinson tried some and agrees.

“We used it at the later timing and it made the

flowering window shorter, which was the whole

idea –– OSR can go on flowering forever.”

As for LLS, the difenaconazole in Toprex gives

good protection, points out James Southgate. “If

LLS pressure is high, growers should consider

starting their defence as soon as symptoms are

seen, which might be earlier in the spring than

stem extension. Alternatively, in very high

pressure situations, adding tebuconazole to

Toprex boosts activity against the disease.”

28 crop production magazine december 2015

Andrew Ward (right) questions whether expensive

fungicides at high rates at both stem extension

and flowering will bring the necessary payback.

way to maintain profitability, he

suggests. “If you’re LEAF (Linking

Environment and Farming) accredited,

it’s worth trying for the £15/t premium

available through ADM. There’s also the

HOLL market, although premiums have

dropped with the introduction of better

varieties, which has caused a swing

towards them. There’s £65/t available on

HEAR contracts, although you suffer a

yield penalty.”

Andrew Ward has been growing HOLL

OSR for many years and is uncomfortable

at the prospect of more growers diluting

the premium. Half of the rapeseed grown

for the Cotswolds joint venture is the

variety Molten. This is grown for R-Oil, a

cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which contains

a unique balance of Omega 3, 6 and 9

fatty acids, that’s earned it some premium


Significantly better

Another way to improve the net return

is to grow the crop well, continues

Richard Means. “Those in the top 10% are

achieving significantly better returns. It’s

because they get everything spot on with

their crop, from corner to corner.”

So how will that affect decision-making

this winter? “It’s important to assess your

crop and its potential. You should start to

gauge how hard you can push it, and if

the canopy varies, how much can be

pushed and how you can then keep the

canopy under control if it’s forward. The

good news for OSR is that there’s plenty

of options in terms of product choice and

agronomy know-how to get it right, so

while there’s little you can do to alter the

price, there’s little excuse not to maximise

its potential.”

The rest of John Haynes crop has

come on well since Oct, he reports.

There’s 265ha, of which 100ha received

a biostimulant. “We applied this to the

crop that wasn’t treated with Cruiser and

the difference it made was remarkable

–– it’s all looking pretty even now.”

Disease pressure was high, with both

light leaf spot and phoma found in the

crop. “We treated the most forward

areas with metconazole then applied

prothioconazole to the entire crop by

16 Nov. We haven’t seen any aphids and

the crop’s now looking very strong.”

In the Cotswolds, conditions have been

mild enough to bring on the crop, but it’s

also brought in the aphids, reports Hamish

Campbell. “We very rarely have to spray,

and I pride myself on how little insecticide

we use on the crop. But it came under

pressure and we had to use an aphicide

this year. Otherwise, it all received 0.5 l/ha

of prothioconazole plus tebuconazole on

18 Nov.”

James Chamberlain had a crop of two

halves, but that’s no longer the case. 45ha

of SY Harnas was drilled at the end of Aug

at 35 seeds/m 2 with a further 55ha of

Harper drilled almost a month later at

45 seeds/m 2 .

“What was forward is now very forward,

Driving up oilseed rape yields

Striving for better oilseed rape yields,

however incremental, can deliver big returns.

It’s for this reason that Syngenta has brought

together eleven of the country’s leading OSR

growers as part of the ‘Driving Up Yields’

Hamish Campbell is keeping an open mind and

an eye on crop progress.

while the backward crop has caught up,”

he says. “It was all sprayed by the end

of Nov with prothioconazole plus

tebuconazole and charged up with


Andrew Ward had a similarly split crop of

his V316 OL and V324 OL, with earlier

drilled heathland put in at 25 seeds/m 2 ,

while the heavy land was established in the

first week of Sept at 30-45 seeds/m 2 .

“We saw some phoma and LLS, but not at

alarming levels. We went with prothioconazole

James Chamberlain started the season with a crop of two halves – SY Harnas drilled on 28 Aug (left)

and Harper drilled on 19 Sept (right).

initiative, with the aim of challenging current

conventions, promoting best practice and

stimulating uptake of innovations. Meeting

throughout the season with industry experts,

the group is voicing its concerns and sharing

its thoughts in an online forum – you can

follow the discussion and debate at

30 crop production magazine december 2015

The earlier you apply it, the bigger the effect on reducing the height of the

main raceme and therefore less likelihood of lodging.

plus tebuconazole on the forward

crop, while the less forward area

got just straight prothioconazole

around 10 Nov.”

Disease tolerance

His spring planning will take

more than crop growth into

account. “With prices so low,

we’ve got to make the most of

disease tolerance –– fungicides

at high rates at both stem

extension and flowering is

questionable, and with good

planning we can make some


“We can make use of the

crop’s advance growth stage

and use less N, tailoring

applications closely to growth.

But it’s not all bad news

–– nitrogen and fuel costs

are lower this season.”

That’s one aspect John

Haynes has taken advantage

of. “We’ve bought nitrogen well,

and OSR doesn’t need fancy

chemistry, so you don’t have to

spend a fortune –– just keep an

eye on the crop and give it

what it needs.

“But you wouldn’t want to

Search the CPM Article


Looking for more articles in this

series? The search facility on the

CPM website allows you to find

and download articles from

previous issues using keywords.

For Driving Up Oilseed Rape

Yields, type in ‘DUOSRY’.

scrimp and save as you’d risk

wasting everything you’d spent

on the crop in the autumn, and

if you end up with a low yield

and low price, then you would

be in trouble.”

Equally, if the price does

climb, those who hadn’t

invested in the crop would

regret the decision, points out

Hamish Campbell. “It wouldn’t

take much to turn the market

round and the biggest return

comes from yield.

“So I’m keeping an open

mind and an eye on crop

progress –– OSR is so

susceptible to many in-crop

issues and I’m prepared to

spend on it to maintain

its potential. We’re also

prepared to try some PGR.”

James Chamberlain isn’t

so sure, however. “Certainly

the most forward crops would

warrant a PGR, but crop

growth is often varied, and so

I’d question the benefit of a

dedicated PGR. You also

need the fungicide for LLS

protection, so one with PGR

activity may be best.”

That doesn’t mean to say

he’s cutting back on inputs,

though. “I don’t see the

advantage in cutting back and

potentially compromising your

yield potential. It won’t improve

the price of your crop, it’ll just

mean you’ll have less to sell.

But there’s many a slip ‘twixt

the cup and the lip –– there’s

a long way to go until harvest

and a lot can happen.” ■

Bean of bounty

Standing in the Norton Dog pub, near Bury

St Edmunds in Suffolk, and enjoying a pint

with Charles Mathieson, you’d expect that

here, of all places, he’d brag about the

yield he’s achieved from his winter

bean crop.

But he’s remaining remarkably reticent.

“We did get a fantastic yield in 2014, but

I wouldn’t like to give the impression that’s

the norm,” he says. “However there’s no

reason why any decent grower shouldn’t

consistently get over 5t/ha every year from

their bean crop.”

Farming 300ha of sandy clay loam, the

winter bean crop currently in the ground at

Crawley Hall Farm has taken 34ha in a

rotation where the one-in-three year break is

shared with winter oilseed rape. “I’ve never

been a great fan of OSR –– costs keep

going up and yields aren’t. Beans bring a

higher yield from the following wheat crop

and a balance to the rotation. We’ve always

grown them and that means we’ve never

had too much trouble from slugs and


The secret to his success with the

crop crouches in a field behind the farm

buildings, however –– it’s a seven-leg Blench

subsoiler modified with seeder tubes running

down the back of its winged Sumo feet.

“Establishment is the key –– get that one

thing right and the rest falls into place,”

says Charles Mathieson.

The subsoiler seeder establishes both

OSR and beans with an Accord DF1 front

hopper that blows the seed through to its

distribution head. “I’ve spent enough hours

in the workshop and enough years in the

field refining this tool, and people say I

have it sussed now,” he claims. Indeed,

Get the establishment

right and you can achieve

substantial yields from a

winter bean crop, according

to one Suffolk grower.

CPM visits to find out.

By Tom Allen-Stevens

he’s drilled a fair few acres with it for other


For beans, it’s set to run at 150-200mm

depth. “We run on an angle to the previous

year’s wheat tramlines, but go straight into

the stubble, aiming to drill in the second

week of Oct. The seed does go deep, but

I reckon beans like that –– it slows them up

so they put down a decent root, and they

find their way up easy enough through the

subsoiler channel.”

Behind the legs, a tyre packer (there’s a

Guttler roller for the OSR) consolidates the

ground, closing the channel to minimise slug

and rook damage. But this leaves the

Give them

the attention at

planting they

deserve and they’ll

perform. ”

32 crop production magazine december 2015

400mm rows in between little ridges across

the field. The crop then takes around three

weeks to a month to emerge.

“I reckon the ridges protect the crop from

cold weather –– they seem to keep the

stems sheltered when a cold wind is

blowing,” he comments.

Drilled at 150-155kg/ha, this puts in

20-25 seeds/m 2 of Tundra –– the variety he’s

grown for the past three years for seed.

“It’s one that does perform well and can

bring exceptional yields. It’s not as tall as

Clipper, but grows about the same height

as Wizard.”

Minimal ground disturbance

With minimal ground disturbance, weeds

aren’t too much of a problem, although

Centium (clomazone) plus pendimethalin are

A seven-leg Blench subsoiler modified with

seeder tubes running down the back of its winged

Sumo feet establishes the bean crop.

The seeder puts the crop into 400mm rows in

between little ridges across the field.

applied pre-emergence. “We’ll put Lingo

(clomazone+ linuron) with the PDM for more

broad-spectrum activity, especially if

cleavers or mayweed are bad.”

In the spring, the first priority for the

bean crop is pea and bean weevil. “We’ll

usually spray for this just before early

flowering, usually with a pyrethroid such

as cypermethrin. However, the pest could

become more of a challenge now that

resistance has been confirmed –– it’s not

as if there are a lot of alternatives available

these days.”

A dressing of potash may be applied at

the same time, depending on soil indices,

although phosphate levels are naturally high.

“We’ll also apply a cheap fungicide, such as

tebuconazole to keep chocolate spot at bay,

and will add manganese to keep the crop

healthy,” notes Charles Mathieson.

At early flowering, depending on

weather pressure, there’s another fungicide

–– usually Alto Elite (chlorothalonil+

cyproconazole), applied with more

manganese –– with the main spray timing

at early pod set. “That’s when you want to

have a good look at the crop and decide its

yield potential. If it’s going to yield, it’s worth

putting on some Amistar (azoxystrobin).

But if it’s not looking so good, we’ll go with

Winter beans: how the

finances stack up


Seed £70

Fungicides £30

Herbicides £70

Insecticides £15

Trace Elements £5

Fertiliser £38

Variable costs £228

Yield (t/ha) 5.2

Price (/t) £155

Output £806

Gross Margin £578

Note: typical figures, based on yields and conditions at

Crawley Hall Farm

Increased supply brings a pulse of optimism

Don’t be disheartened by the drop in pulse

prices –– a rise in demand is meeting the

recent increase in domestic supply. That’s the

message from Franek Smith of Dunns, who’s

also vice president of the British Edible Pulse

Association (BEPA).

The UK area planted to beans grew by 59%

in 2015, with the pea area swelling by 37%, he

says. For 2016, the pulse area is projected to

rise again by 15% to 242,000ha. “But it’s

not going to be a problem to sell this crop,”

he assures. “There are lots of new markets

and feed compounders are coming back

into beans.”

The price of feed peas and beans at the end

of Nov stood at a dismal £111/t and £121/t

respectively, however –– prices for both have

dropped by around a third in a year. But feed

wheat has lost just 10% of its Nov 2014 value.

“There hasn’t been enough supply for feed

compounders to consider using pulses, but

that’s changing –– they need continuity of

just some cyproconazole or tebuconazole


Bruchid beetle is the other pest to stay

on top of from pod set onwards, he believes.

Charles Mathieson follows the Bruchid Cast

forecast and will usually apply two

supply,” notes Franek Smith.

The market for human consumption has

really opened for UK bean growers, he says.

“France, the UK’s main competitor, had a terrible

harvest this year, whereas conversely, a good

proportion of the UK crop is fit for human


In the short term, Sudan has a big demand

for beans, but this ends in Feb, which is when

its import tariff closes. Currency problems in

Egypt has meant buyers haven’t been able to

buy in bulk, reports Franek Smith. “But that’s

given traders the opportunity to process and

add value in the UK.”

There are also opportunities in peas,

he says, with a new marrowfat variety joining

the PGRO Recommended List, and interest in

large blue peas picking up. “The price was so

high, pet food manufacturers reduced the

percentage inclusion. But now the price has

settled down we’re seeing them increase

their demand.”

pyrethroids about a week to ten days apart.

“It’s not so much of a problem on a seed

crop, however,” he notes. Black bean aphid

can also be an issue, and may need a dose

of Aphox (pirimicarb).

“You need to look after a bean crop,

Franek Smith (centre) at the BEPA annual dinner

in pulse-themed costume to raise money for

charity with Barry Reed (left) and Paddy Barrett


● 2016 is the International Year of Pulses, with a

range of activities planned globally to promote them

as healthy, nutritious, affordable and sustainable.

In the UK, BEPA is co-ordinating pro-pulse events,

such as a falafel festival in May and attending

12-15 farm-school events to educate schoolchildren.

but what you apply to it is not the big

influencing factor for success ––

establishment is far more important.”

The rest is up to the weather, and he

reckons dry conditions around pod fill

pegged his yield back slightly this year,

Newcomers nudge alongside RL leaders

RL Peas 2016

It’s been a year of consolidation for the PGRO

Recommended List, reports Stephen Belcher of

PGRO. “We haven’t seen the big yield increases

we had in previous years on the spring bean

list, but then list-leader Vertigo is now a control

variety, so sets the standard.”

Lynx from breeder LSPB joins the list, with a

yield just a shade below Vertigo. “It has a downy

mildew score of 7 –– which is significantly

higher than most and on a par with good old

Maris Bead,” he comments.

Standing ability, maturity and straw length of

the newcomer is similar to the list leaders, but

seed size is slightly smaller.

Bumble from Wherry comes in at the top of

the winter bean list, just a shade above Tundra,

earning its full recommendation this year.

“Bumble has a 6 for standing ability, but my

gut feeling is that it stands better than the data

suggests. The two leaders yield significantly

ahead of market leader Wizard,” notes

Stephen Belcher.

Wizard’s 90% market share is estimated to

have dropped to 80% on the back of strong

Tundra sales in its first commercial year. “Wizard

will continue –– it has a strong following and

nothing can match it for seed size. But its lower

pods are close to the ground, and that’s where

Tundra has a distinct advantage.”

Kareni from Senova now tops the white pea

list, offering a slim yield advantage in a small

market. Kingfisher from Limagrain, at just 98%

of controls, has “been given the benefit of the

doubt” and joins the large blues.

Aikido debuts as the highest-yielding

marrowfat pea variety. “Its standing ability is

better than Sakura but not as good as Genki.

Its downfall is a downy mildew score of 4, but

all the marrowfats need a Wakil (cymoxanil+

fludioxonil+ metalaxyl-M) seed dressing,”

notes Stephen Belcher.

10t challenge

Could you produce a 10t bean crop? There’s a

four-night trip for four to France including an

overnight stay in Paris for you if you can –– the

prize has been put up by PGRO in a bid to

improve the performance of the crop on farm.

“We think the crop now has the genetic

potential to achieve 10t/ha, and we’ve anecdotal

feedback there are growers getting close to that.

It’s an ambitious challenge and we’re keen to

learn the lessons from those who achieve high

yields, which is why we’ve put up the prize,”

says Roger Vickers of PGRO.

RL Spring beans 2016

RL Winter beans 2016

34 crop production magazine december 2015

although it came wetter towards the end

and that may have helped the pods fill out.

“What I look for near harvest time is pods

with five seeds –– if you have plenty of those,

you get a bit more confident about how it’s

going to yield.”

He rarely desiccates the crop, allowing

it to mature naturally, although this year

Reglone (diquat) was applied to keep

black bindweed in check. “The crop’s best

combined first thing in the morning when it’s

a bit damp. For a seed crop it generally

doesn’t need drying as they like to take it at

16%. But an on-floor store that you can get

a decent airflow through, without having to

heat the crop, is best for beans.”

Following the bean crop, it’s an easy

cultivation routine into winter wheat –– a

A pod with five seeds is a good sign near harvest

and an indication of a healthy yield.

Simba Xpress or Kongskilde Vibroflex

precedes a Simba Toptilth in front of the 4.8m

Kverneland Tine Seeder Evo. “The great

advantage of beans is the tilth they create ––

–– you get a lovely seedbed for the wheat.”

This year’s yield didn’t reach near the

impressive output of his 2014 crop, but

current attention is on how the 2016 crop is

coming through. “This autumn’s crop has got

off to good start –– I’ve had comments from a

number of people on how good it looks.

“But getting the crop in at the right time

and in the right conditions is all important.

Beans often get a bad reputation among

growers who say they get variable yields.

But that’s often because they’re only

planted when it’s too wet to drill wheat,

Farm Facts

WA Howes and Son, Crawley Hall Farm,

Norton, Suffolk

● Area farmed: 300ha

● Staff: One full time

● Soil type: Sandy clay loam

● Cropping: Winter wheat (Leeds, KWS

Santiago), winter barley (SY Venture), spring

barley (Propino), winter beans (Tundra),

winter oilseed rape (Nikita, Trinity)

● Mainline tractors: John Deere 6930,


Charles Mathieson is growing Tundra for seed,

which performs well and can bring exceptional


so they’re treated unfairly. Give them

the attention at planting they deserve

and they’ll perform. ■

● Combine harvester: Massey

Fergusson 7274 with 6.7m Power Flow


● Sprayer: Househam Air Ride 3000 with

24m boom

● Drill: 4.8m Kverneland Tine Seeder Evo

● Cultivation: 5.5m Kongskilde Vibroflex,

4.6m Simba Xpress, 7m Simba Toptilth,

6f Kverneland LD85 plough

● Spreader: 3200 litre Kuhn Axera

● Telehandler: JD 3400

In association with

Innovation under


An unprecedented push by

the European business

community to ensure

innovation isn’t stifled by

regulation has cast into

question whether the EU

regulatory system is fit for

purpose. CPM gets an

update from Brussels.

By Tom Allen-Stevens

What would you do if your subsoiler

seeder was banned? Let’s say the

European Commission (EC) decided there

should be a moratorium on such on-farm

innovations until the impact on declining

earthworm numbers could be properly


How about if visual soil assessments,

plough-pan inspections and digging up

36 crop production magazine december 2015

crop roots were curtailed on the basis

that properly defined Health and Safety

guidance for the use of a spade had not yet

been drawn up? Then how would you feel if

the anti-resistance, integrated weed control

strategy you’d evolved for your farm was

outlawed on the tenuous suggestion that the

one herbicide it relied on might possibly be

linked with cancer?

Chances are you’d feel like packing up

operations in the UK and seek to farm

somewhere where the approach to

innovation wasn’t quite so blinkered.

Well that’s exactly how some of the largest

global companies feel they’re being treated

by Europe. 24 of them, representing a

workforce of 1.5 million people and a

combined R&D spend of €30 billion/yr, have

now come together in an unprecedented

show of solidarity to address what they see

as a regulatory system that stifles innovation.

At the heart of the tussle lies the way in

which technological risks are perceived

and regulated within Europe. The

precautionary principle, included in both

the Rio Declaration and the Lisbon Treaty,

provides a legal basis for policy makers to

act to protect the environment, even in the

absence of clear scientific evidence. But

European legislators and regulators have

taken this one step further, according to

Europe’s business community, passing

regulations that assess substances on the

basis of the intrinsic hazard they pose to

human health or the environment.

“The difficulty when it comes to crop

protection products is that this ignores the

precautionary action taken to minimise

exposure, and means products are

potentially disallowed with no real evidence


needs a voice and it

must be listened to

both at an EU level

and within member


John Peck warns that Europe’s approach to

regulation ignores the precautionary action taken

to minimise exposure to potential hazards.

that they cause any harm,” explains

John Peck of BASF.

“It’s interesting to note that these concerns

cut across many different industrial sectors,

including: IT, electronics, chemicals, seed

breeding, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals

and consumer products. Their growth is

fundamentally affected by the way in which

regulators balance protection of human

health and the environment with the need to

stimulate innovation, jobs and growth.”

So a year ago, 24 CEOs of leading

innovative companies –– among them BASF

–– jointly signed a letter that was presented

to the EC’s president Jean-Claude Juncker.

“The letter strongly encouraged the

Commission to readjust the regulatory

environment to include the ‘Innovation

Principle’. Essentially we’re asking the EC to

consider a decision –– say on the approval

of a new fungicide –– based on the science

supporting use of a technology, not just

on its potential hazard assessment”

says John Peck.

The need for precaution is not being

questioned by the Innovation Principle

initiative. But the companies behind it stress

the need for policy to also protect Europe’s

ability to innovate.

Sound science

“These 24 companies are committed to

investing in innovation for the future, but

they need a policy environment which is

receptive to approving new products based

upon sound science and, at this point in

time, we are a long way from this position.”

This show of concern has had quite an

impact, reports Paul Leonard of BASF. He

heads up the Innovation Principle Task Force

for the European Risk Forum (ERF) –– a

not-for-profit think tank that promotes

risk-based decision-making at an EU level.

“A big step forward in June this year was

a joint statement from BusinessEurope,

ERF and the European Round Table of

Industrialists supporting the innovation

principle and detailing how it can be

incorporated into policy decisions. This

has now gone far wider than just the 24

original companies –– it’s an unprecedented

statement from the entire European business


At stake is their vast combined private

R&D budget. The €80 billion Horizon 2020

programme, which represents over 90% of

the public funds going into EU research and

innovation, is little more than a third of the

amount that these commercial companies

will invest over the same period. And while

Europe was once seen as an innovation

leader, economies such as China, South

Maintain margins to protect products

Korea and North America are now

competing for global innovation leadership,

warns Europe’s business community. With

R&D intensity growing in these countries,

and already twice as great as it is in Europe,

budgets are being drawn away, and this

will ultimately reduce Europe’s ability to

compete, say businesses.

“The good news is that the message

hasn’t gone unheard,” continues Paul

Leonard. “The EU Commissioner for

research and Innovation Carlos Moedas

has publicly stated we need the Innovation

Principle, and Commissioner Günther

Oettinger, who heads up Digital Economy

and Society, also publicly supports it.

“It’s been a recurring theme in the

context of Juncker’s Better Regulation

Agenda, while in Jan 2016 there’s due

to be a top-level meeting at which the

Innovation Principle will be a key theme.”

So what exactly is the Innovation

Principle? “Essentially it’s a paradigm shift or

Up to €30 billion/yr of commercial R&D spend

may be directed away from Europe unless the

EC considers how policy changes impact on


Farmers, especially those coming out of Entry

Level Stewardship, have been urged to take on

board crop protection measures encouraged by

the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.

With 11,000 ELS schemes coming to an end

this month, Natural England has received just

2300 applications for the new Countryside

Stewardship Scheme. There’s now concern that

this may be perceived as a move by farmers

away from environmental stewardship.

“Non-farmed field margins are a crucial part

of protecting water quality,” notes Guy Smith of

NFU. “Metaldehyde is still being detected in

water abstracted for drinking and actives such

as propyzamide and metazachlor are still very

much under threat of revocation.

“If farmers can show they are being responsible

and taking proactive steps to minimise the

impact of crop protection products, that goes a

long way to helping us put forward the case in

Brussels to retain the actives that remain.”

The CFE has released a new six-page leaflet

to help farmers demonstrate cross compliance

and protect water quality. Crop protection for

arable and livestock farms is a summary of key

information put forward by the 14 organisations


Phil Jarvis, farm manager at the Allerton

Project in Leics, points out the guidelines have

broad industry backing and that the CFE is

underpinned by its partnership with Defra. “As a

farmer, it gives you confidence that you’re part of

Farmers have been urged to retain ELS field

margins to demonstrate environmental


a campaign that’s delivering benefits. And if you

don’t want to be part of a bureaucratic scheme,

but still want to demonstrate best practice, this

is a good place to start.”

crop production magazine december 2015 37 Xx

Paul Leonard hopes that the Innovation Principle

has gathered enough momentum to carry itself


culture change. It’s taken 20 years for the

precautionary principle to become so well

established in EU policy making, and we’re

not looking to reduce any of the safeguards

this has put in place. But the system is

broken –– it’s scaring people away from

innovating in Europe. Policy makers know

that, but they just don’t know what to do

about it. Innovation is supposed to lie at

the heart of European policy. This initiative

provides a positive basis for reforming policy

making in the long term.”

The principle requires that whenever EU

institutions consider policy or regulatory

proposals, the impact on innovation should

be fully assessed and addressed. An

“innovation checklist” has been drawn up,

providing guidance as to how this can

be done:

Improving implementation of existing

legislation: aiming to reduce the tendency

for member states to “goldplate” EU

Principle partners

The companies behind the Innovation

Principle are:

AiCuris GmbH Airbus Group

Arthur D Little Aurubis

BASF Bayer

CEPSA Dow AgroSciences

Dow Corning Dow Europe

DSM Dupont De Nemours

Henkel IBM

JohnDeere Novartis

Philips Sabic

Sanofi Solvay

Statoil Syngenta


38 crop production magazine december 2015

legislation, allowing leeway to take into

account the needs of businesses at a

national level.

Keeping pace with a changing world: a

shift of emphasis from prescriptive regulation

to a more dynamic and adaptive model.

This would include a pragmatic approach

to reviews, which keeps pace with rapidly

evolving technologies but also provides


Creating space for innovators to measure

and manage technological risk: with

companies directing too much of limited

resources at “defensive R&D”, this puts

positive encouragement on more innovative

and discovery-oriented research.

Weighing risks of alternative solutions

in comparison: rather than focusing on

the downsides of a single approach or

solution when deciding regulation, other

available options should always be part

of the analysis.

New products

There are some challenges ahead, notes

Paul Leonard, but the hope is that the

Innovation Principle has gathered enough

momentum to carry itself forward. “Once

established, it would help to ensure that

drafting of new legislation and revision of

existing regulations, such as 1107/2009

concerning plant protection products,

would systematically evaluate and account

for the impact on innovation. This alone

would create confidence for those who

invest in innovation.”

But there’s strong opposition to the

Innovation Principle within Europe. Critics

argue innovation by its nature favours

product function, while neglecting other

important risk factors in the longevity

of the product’s lifecycle. Cost/benefit

arguments should always be approached

cautiously by decision-makers, they say, as

the relative benefits are often overstated

and potential downsides unknown at the

point of product approval.

“There’s been a tendency in the past

for the risk-based approach to under

rather than over-estimate the risk

posed by particular products and

technologies,” says Paul Whaley, a

chemical risk-assessment researcher

at Lancaster University and advisor to the

Cancer Prevention and Education Society.

He believes that science alone cannot

be relied on as the basis for good

policy-making as it doesn’t consider two

types of uncertainty –– ambiguity, where

what is factually known could be consistent

with two or more resulting choices,

and ignorance, where the possible

consequences (good or bad) are beyond

the limit of current understanding.

He cites asbestos, PCBs, CFCs and DDT

as examples of “regrettable innovation”,

where policy-makers got it wrong. “I don’t

see that the innovation principle will prevent

bad decisions being made in future, but the

precautionary principle can.”

Rather than discouraging innovation, the

precautionary principle stimulates it by

encouraging investment in anticipating

hazards from emerging products, he says.

“What we have in the precautionary

principle should enhance innovation

while safeguarding society’s concerns.

It just needs to be managed better at a

political level.”

He dismisses suggestions that Europe’s

more cautious approach to regulation puts

it at a competitive disadvantage, pointing

out it’s a product of the way Europeans

prefer to live their lives. “Other nations

accept lower standards of air quality, for

example. People in Europe rightfully have

a higher expectation of the technologies

introduced here.”

But it’s this “higher expectation” that’s

putting pressure on chemical companies

and consequently farmers, according to a

report launched by the Andersons Centre

late last year. This highlights that 40 of the

250 active substances currently approved

in the UK are highly likely to be lost or

restricted as a result of the EU’s current

agrochemical approval process. This will

make weeds, diseases and pests far more

difficult to control and lead to a realistic

loss in farm profit of £1.73 billion (36%),

concludes the report.

“A lot of MEPs have been led to believe

there’s new chemistry to replace lost actives,

but there’s nothing in the pipeline,” notes

NFU vice president Guy Smith.

“What’s worrying is when a product like

glyphosate is questioned in this uncertain

There should be positive encouragement on more

innovative and discovery-oriented research.

interpretation of the precautionary principle

is already having a direct impact on some

growers across Europe. While Defra and

CRD in the UK have been credited with

taking a pragmatic approach to regulation,

their equivalents in France have driven

farmers to protest.

“On 3 Sept, Paris was brought to a

standstill by farmers who were fed up with

over-zealous regulation,” notes Pascal

Lacroix, responsible for public affairs for

BASF in France.

The precautionary principle ought to be helping

policy makers avoid regrettable innovation,

argues Paul Whaley.

EU climate of product approvals. It’s been

demonised by NGOs since the IARC

suggested it was probably a carcinogen,

and millers have been under pressure to

ban its use pre-harvest. The good news is

that EFSA has now concluded it’s unlikely to

pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

But there’s concern that a dogmatic

On-farm priorities to

protect chemistry

● Stay informed – keep abreast of

regulatory issues, and assess how

policies being discussed at a European

level may impact on your business.

● Get involved – Encourage your MEP to

find out about the innovation principle and

its potential to resolve the current

stalemate in the EU regulatory process.

● Demonstrate best practice – Find out

what measures you can implement on

your farm that will help show how the

industry collectively takes responsibility for

environmental issues (see panel on p37).

Paul Leonard will be speaking about the

Innovation Principle at a fringe event of the

Oxford Farming Conference on Tues 5 Jan

Excessive application

One of their main grievances is France’s

Ecophyto Plan, which they see as an

example of the consequence of an

excessive application of the precautionary

principle into French law. Launched in

2008 the plan aimed to cut pesticide use

by 50% over ten years. A second version

superseded it one month ago, now seeking

a 25% reduction by 2020, with a further 25%

the aim by 2025.

“This goes beyond what happens in the

rest of the EU –– farmers already pay a tax

on pesticides in France, while distributors of

crop protection products will almost certainly

pay an additional levy as they face severe

penalties if reduction targets aren’t met,”

he says.

So farmers' unions have declared a

moratorium on adopting any more regulation

from the French government for six months,

and demanded that any further regulation

falls in line with the rest of EU. While the

French ministry of agriculture appears

unswerved, several parliamentary initiatives

have been launched to introduce the

Innovation Principle to counterbalance the

precautionary principle. “Farmers remain

sceptical, however –– they want to see

concrete proof that the situation will change,”

says Pascal Lacroix.

Farming, the biggest job on earth

British farmers and growers can’t produce

the quantity and quality of food our society

needs without access to the best advances in

technology, chemistry and plant traits. In this

CPM Protecting Chemistry series, industry

contributors discuss the issues surrounding

the discovery, use and retention of active

ingredients; it also explores the policy

decisions affecting production agriculture.

For agrochemical products, the dual

challenges of increasing biological

resistance and an ever-toughening

regulatory environment make the

Farmers in France have imposed a moratorium

on adopting any more regulation, reports

Pascal Lacroix.

“What we’ve lost in France is a culture that

values science –– you still have that in the

UK and it shows in your approach to

pesticide regulation. Science needs a

voice and it must be listened to both at

an EU level and within member states.”

For BASF and its investment in

agricultural solutions, the shift in mindset is

crucial, says John Peck. “We reinvest 9% of

our revenues back into R&D, and agriculture

accounts for over a quarter of our global

R&D spend. But it takes ten years and costs

us over €200 million to develop a new active

ingredient, so we need to know that the

regulatory environment in ten years’ time is

going to be receptive to us develop a new

active ingredient, so we need to know that

the regulatory environment in ten years’ time

is going to be receptive to us launching the

product and recouping our investment.” ■

breakthroughs into novel solutions fundamental

for the future of farming.

Have your say and get involved...

Farming – The Biggest Job on Earth

crop production magazine december 2015 39

Britain’s bumper

crop laid bare

David Beck wonders whether growers’N

applications are now catching up with the

potential of their crop.

Growers are

recognising that newer

varieties respond well to

N and are adjusting

rates accordingly. ”

their grain protein levels reported a lift.

While most growers put higher yields

down to favourable weather, nitrogen

rates were credited for the higher proteins

–– of the 37% of those who said they’d

increased their N applications, the

average rise was around 16kgN/ha,

while most growers (56%) had

kept applications the same.

For David Beck of CF

Fertilisers, it’s a sign that

growers are responding

to greater crop potential.

“The nitrogen fertiliser

market rose by 8-9% in

2014, and the survey

suggests a further rise for

2015. It seems growers may

be recognising that newer

varieties respond well to N and

are adjusting rates accordingly.”

It’s a similar picture on sulphur –– levels

of applied S have risen on about 13% of

arable crops on average, according to

survey results, with almost 20% of oilseed

rape crops seeing higher applications.

“Sulphur is equally as important as

nitrogen as the more N a plant takes

up, the more S it needs to utilise the

nitrogen,” points out David Beck.

A survey of growers has

offered an insight into how

the 2015 crop performed and

how plans for next year are

shaping up. CPM pulls apart

the findings and asks what it

is that makes a huge harvest.

By Tom Allen-Stevens

40 crop production magazine december 2015

UK growers have achieved higher

yields and grain proteins this year and

appear to be feeding the crop more

fertiliser. Almost 40% of the growers who

responded to a CPM/CF Fertilisers survey

on fertiliser practice revealed they had

applied more nitrogen to their 2015

crop compared with 2014 applications

(see charts opposite).

A whopping 75% of growers achieved a

higher wheat yield this year, with a lucky

10% getting at least 2t/ha extra from the

wheat crop, and half of those who knew


“But we may be seeing a rebalancing

here –– growers have held back N

applications for the past few years, and

it could be that the development of new

varieties has outpaced progress in applied

N rates. The survey may indicate that

growers are now catching up with the

potential of their crop.”

But the correlation between higher

yields and applied N may not be quite so

clear cut. Of those who reported higher N

applications, only two thirds achieved

higher yields, compared with the 75%

overall who saw a yield increase.

On-farm practice, 2015

How did your yields in

harvest 2015 vary

from harvest 2014?

At least 2.0t/ha lower

1.5t/ha lower

1t/ha lower

0.5t/ha lower

The same

0.5t/ha higher

1t/ha higher

1.5t/ha higher

At least 2.0t/ha higher

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

How did your protein

levels in harvest 2015

compare to harvest


At least 0.8% lower

0.6% lower

0.4% lower

0.2% lower

The same

0.2% higher

0.4% higher

0.6% higher

At least 0.8% higher

Understanding a wheat variety’s protein switch is

a key aspect of knowing how to feed a crop to

build yield, says Roger Sylvester-Bradley.

How did your nitrogen

applications compare

in spring 2015 to

spring 2014?

For these crops,

were your sulphur

rates higher or lower

in spring 2015?

What do you think

generally led to good

wheat yields and

protein levels in


Not known

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

At least 30kgN/ha lower

20kgN/ha lower

10kgN/ha lower

The same

10kgN/ha higher

20kgN/ha higher

At least 30kgN/ha higher

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

Milling wheat

Feed wheat

Winter barley

Spring barley

Oilseed rape


0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

Higher The same Lower Not in rotation

Low disease level


Nitrogen rate

Sulphur rate


Crop establishment

Plant numbers in spring

Tiller number in spring


Least important

Most important

Yields Protein

Prof Roger Sylvester-Bradley of ADAS

reckons the higher yields may have more

to do with N utilisation. “I haven’t seen

any signs that growers are applying more

N –– if they were, it would be a major

change in practice. But I do think we may

be improving our ability at getting it into

the crop.”

Varietal performance

Overall applied rates of N haven’t

changed much since the early 1980s,

he points out, but UK average yields have

risen by around 2t/ha. Much of this is

down to varietal performance, and that

certainly has changed.

“These days, the lifespan of a

high-performing wheat is longer and it has

the capacity to produce more biomass ––

the same amount of straw and chaff, but

more grain. The flowering date hasn’t

changed much, though, so growers need

to think about the end of the growth period

and how to feed that.”

There’s been plenty of trials work carried

out over many decades to determine the

optimum N for wheat crops, and this

information is distilled into the Fertiliser

Manual. “But RB209 is a crude average of

these experiments. What we’re learning

through recent trials is the variation

between farms, between fields and within

those fields. On-farm strip trials have

shown that as many as half of arable fields

may be receiving the wrong amount of

nitrogen by more than 50kgN/ha.”

So how can growers get it right?

“The bottom line is we simply don’t know

enough about how fertiliser is applied

crop production magazine december 2015 41

Getting everything right for a bumper crop

Do something different in 2016 to aim for a

bumper crop, suggests Allison Grundy.

on farm and how it’s then taken up,”

he says. “It was recent experiments using

‘chessboard’ trials that proved to be

something of a Damascus moment

for me.”

Monitor your soils – assess soil nutrient

levels, in particular N Min

Explore your options – think carefully

about crop requirements and plan

applications and timings to match best


Look at grain protein levels – assess past

performance and adjust applications to suit


Varied N requirement

Four different N rates were criss-crossed

in a grid of 10x10m squares within a wheat

field and optimum N assessed for each

square. “The N requirement in one field

varied as much as you’d see over many

series of trials over many sites and years.

It comes down to the subtle effect of the

soil –– there’s as much variation below

ground as there is above it.”

The ADAS-led Yield Enhancement

Network (YEN), in which about 100

growers work with researchers to achieve

the ‘bio-physical’ potential of their crops,

has shown similar variation, explains

Roger Sylvester-Bradley. “What we’ve

seen is that the growers who consistently

achieve the high percentages are the

hard-thinking farmers –– those who really

Consider product choice – ammonium

nitrate is best at building protein and

sulphur/nitrogen compounds work well at

keeping both nutrients at the right level

Keep an eye on the weather – monitor

conditions and crop growth and tailor

practice accordingly

strive to understand what’s going on,

recognising the importance of light

energy and water, as well as nutrition.”

On nutrition, understanding grain

protein is one fundamental aspect of

knowing what’s happening, he believes.

“If a wheat crop isn’t fed right, protein is

hit more than yield. But the point at which

a wheat variety switches from laying down

yield to building protein varies. We need

to understand the protein switch better,

but values in the AHDB Cereals and

Oilseeds Recommended List probably

provide the best guide to gauging the

performance of your wheat.”

If you get 10.6% from Reflection, that’s

probably about right, but 10.6% on

Costello means you’ve underdone it, he

explains. “Too much grain protein can be

Growers switch on to barley’s early boost

Barley growers are altering nitrogen timings to

exploit the potential of new varieties, according

to the survey. Almost 60% of those growing

barley had adjusted the proportion of N applied

early. Of these, more than half were putting

50% on at GS14-25.

“This is really encouraging,” says Allison

Grundy of CF Fertilisers. “Recent research has

shown the best yield response comes from

applying 50% of the N early and the survey

suggests the benefits of that research are now

being felt on farm.”

just as costly as too little, depending on

the variety. Also, growers aiming for a

high feed yield could save on nitrogen by

seeking out the low protein varieties.”

But getting nitrogen right is notoriously

difficult, he concedes. A recent project

monitored protein levels achieved by

growers in grain co-ops over several

seasons. While some growers consistently

achieved high levels in their milling

samples, others frequently failed to

do so, with no rational explanation as

to why.

“Those growers might have been

getting the nutrition right if the farm was

‘average’, but the protein levels are telling

them something’s working differently

on their farm. Routinely analysing and

monitoring what you’re doing could tell you

a lot about how to improve performance

–– if you’ve a milling wheat at 11% you’re

underfertilising, but a feed wheat at 12%

may indicate some N was unnecessary.”

Realising both high yield and high

protein puts the emphasis in wheat crops

on the later N applications. “The difficulty

is that an application at the end of May

needs rain in June and July to get it into

the ear.”

Bonanza yields

And that may be what’s behind the

high yields and good proteins growers

experienced this year. According to the

survey, most growers put this year’s

bonanza yields down to crop establishment

and sunlight, with rainfall coming a close

third. Nitrogen rate was credited for the high

protein, followed by rainfall and sunlight.

“It’s the good light levels and the

pattern of rainfall that top my list,” says

Roger Sylvester-Bradley. He cites research

that has drawn observations on spring and

summer rainfall and resulting yields.

“There have been high yields in years with

low rainfall in March and April but there

has been high proteins in years with

relatively high precipitation in June and

The barley project, led by ADAS and funded

by AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds, CF Fertilisers

and Syngenta, is taking a fresh look at data

and conducting new trials to update RB209

recommendations for winter barley.

“The earlier timing supports work done

previously. What we now also know is how

best to feed these high-yielding barley crops,”

says Allison Grundy.

The project has determined a barley crop

needs an extra 30kgN/ha per tonne of yield

above RB209’s standard 8t/ha crop. “With many

July. This year we got both.

“The other striking feature of this year

was ear numbers –– some crops produced

a massive number of grain sites. It could

farms achieving 10-11t/ha crops, they need

to apply an extra 60-90kgN/ha.”

In practice, this could mean an extra

application, splitting the total dressing three

ways rather than using the traditional two.

“And then half of it also needs to go on before

GS31. There’ll be knock-on implications for

disease control and PGR use, too. So for

growers looking to maximise returns on their

barley crop, there’s plenty to plan for next

spring,” concludes Allison Grundy.

be that dry weather in early spring,

combined with plenty of sunshine,

combined to boost photosynthesis and

rooting, setting up the crop to produce

Planning a bumper crop

Which aspects of crop

nutrition do you

intend to look closer

at for spring 2016?

What advice or information

source is most likely to

influence your approach to

crop nutrition?

Where do you see the

most significant

advances in crop

production coming

in the next year?

Have you adjusted the

proportion of N applied

early to winter barley,

and if so, by how


Soil analysis for


Soil nitrogen


Nitrogen product type

Nitrogen timings

Sulphur product type



Not applicable

Sulphur timings


0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

10% 25% 50%

the high biomass hence high yields.”

Rainfall and sunlight can’t be controlled,

but they can be monitored, and then other

aspects can be tailored more closely for

those aiming for a bumper harvest in

2016. Over 90% of growers responding to

the survey said soil analysis for P&K would

be a key aspect they’d be looking at

(see charts left).

While this is important, David Beck’s

concerned that less than half of growers

feel soil nitrogen measurement warrants

attention. “I’m surprised that growers put

nitrogen timings as more important than

finding out what’s left in the soil. A high

yield means the crop will have drawn on

soil nitrogen reserves, so it’s worth taking

some N Min samples to gauge what’s left

as well as looking at timings.”

For almost 80% of growers, it’ll be either

the farm agronomist or their own

experience that will be the main influence

on the nutrition approach in spring 2016.

But David Beck notes there are other

avenues worth exploring.

“There can be a tendency simply to

do the same thing, but a manufacturer

website can be a good place to start to

explore other avenues. So far only 70%

of growers have bought some of their

requirements for 2016, so the market’s a

little way behind where it usually is. That

means there’s plenty more product to

bring onto farm, and that’s where you can

open out your purchasing decisions.”

CF Fertilisers agronomist Allison Grundy

agrees that 2016 could be the ideal year

to do something different. “One thing to

try for instance is to make a sulphur

application with every N application, rather

than applying in one dressing –– Single

Top (27N 12SO 3 ), for instance, allows that

flexibility. With N/S compounds currently

priced at parity with Nitram, it’s a very

simple way to improve your system.”

In the longer term, she tends to agree

with growers that soil and cultivation

methods are where the most significant

advances in crop production may lie

(see chart left). “We don’t give soil the

attention it deserves, on average only 60%

of applied N is recovered by the crop ––

meaning 40% of your fertiliser investment

is being recycled in thesoil system.

“But getting it right means getting

everything right (see panel on p43)

–– monitoring not only your soils, but

your crop and ensuring all planets are

in alignment and all marginal gains are

explored. If we can exploit the genetic

potential of current varieties by developing

the agronomy and adapting to seasonal

conditions, we have a good chance of

achieving those higher yields.” ■

44 crop production magazine december 2015

Profits under pressure as markets remain depressed

CropTec was a chance for growers to catch up with experts on the state of the industry.

Two good years for global crop production and

comfortable world stocks will keep commodity

markets in the doldrums, but prepare for

volatile times ahead. That was the message

from Sebastian Mallet, market analyst with

ODA, at a BASF breakfast meeting at CropTec

last month.

Now in its third year, the event, that

has Adama as its headline sponsor, is believed

to have drawn as many visitors to the East of

England showground at Peterborough as last

year –– around 3000. As well as a series of

seminars and static exhibits, it was a chance

for growers to catch up with experts on the

state of the industry.

Globally the trend on commodity markets

is bearish, reports Sebastian Mallet. “The

world balance sheet was at 30% and now

stands at 30.8%, and there’s a comfortable

supply/demand position. In the UK, the

problem is a weak Euro –– European prices are

currently the lowest in the world, but a relatively

strong sterling keeps the UK as net importers,

depressing prices.”

Many of the exhibits at CropTec offered visitors

the opportunity to find out about new arable


His advice to wheat growers is to sit tight for

the time being. “The wheat market is on carry

–– it’ll pay to store. But the oilseed market is in

backwardation. Prices are already lower than

they were at harvest and there’s no storage

value for the 2015 crop.

“But speculators are already looking at

next year’s crop –– many traders are short

on the market and are looking to recover their

positions, which may drive prices up. Whatever

happens, expect volatility.”

There are five global production areas, he

explains, North and South America, the Black

Sea, Europe and Australia. A 1% drop in

production in these countries represents

a 5% drop in exports.

“The US exports less wheat than Europe and

the Black Sea, so it’s not such a big player. But

Ukraine, that normally produces 25M tonnes

and exports 13M tonnes, is currently looking

at a 2016 crop that could be as low as

15M tonnes.”

Wheat has a strong ability to recover in

Ukraine, he cautions, but the politics currently

being played out in the crude oil markets adds

further uncertainty. “Oil prices are fundamental

to crop-market stability.”

Current low wheat prices have seen

profitability slide in the arable sector, warns

George Cook of Andersons. “With on-farm

margins gradually being eroded, a change of

mindset is needed,” he states.

Andersons’ Loam Farm model, with 600ha

of combinable crops, faces a net loss before

subsidy of £62/ha in 2015 and this will

deepen to £107/ha in 2016, he reports.

“The classic mantra is to spread costs over

a bigger area, but a reduction of unit cost

would be a considerable challenge for most

arable businesses, especially with land of

questionable quality coming on the market

and rental value high.”

Taking on an extra 200ha would increase

Loam Farm’s loss for 2016 to £131/ha, he

predicts. Instead, he advocates a move towards

more spring cropping, with overall reductions

in input costs. Larger tractor should be traded

out for smaller models and the dedicated

telehandler should go, resulting in a net

projected loss of £108/ha.

“The changes won’t increase margins,

but they’ll ease management and make the

farm less dependent on autumn cropping and

in-crop chemistry –– that’s a business that’s

sustainable and better equipped to profit from

any market upturns that may occur,” concludes

George Cook.

George Cook advises arable businesses to seek

a more sustainable system.

crop production magazine december 2015 45

New tech draws the crowds


A drop in machinery sales

across Europe didn’t dampen

the enthusiasm of the

450,000 visitors to

Agritechnica, held in

Hanover last month. In

the first of three special

reports, CPM casts its

eye over the highlights likely

to also be on show in the

UK at LAMMA in Jan.

By Mick Roberts

While sprayer sales declined in 2015, the

good news for manufacturers, according

to CEMA, the European trade organisation,

is it’s likely to be the only product group

expected to rise next year.

Whether by luck or design, or probably

a bit of both, sprayer makers have been

gearing up to meet this demand, with a

huge array of significant new machines on

46 crop production magazine december 2015

show at Agritechnica. Most, from well

known multi-national companies, will be

making their way across the channel.

While not all are predicted to make it

here in time for the LAMMA show in Jan,

most will arrive some time in 2016.

Potential buyers can expect to see

completely new trailed and self-propelled

machines joining some manufacturer’s

ranges for the first time.

At the same time, Agritechnica provided

a fascinating look into the near and further

future with some interesting technology

and controls being shown for the first time.

Challenger used Agritechnica for its first

foray into the competitive trailed sector

with the launch of two new models –– the

RG333 and RG344, offering tank capacities

of 3300 and 4400 litres, respectively.

Both are offered with 24m to 30m wide

aluminium booms. Air-operated quin

nozzles are fitted as standard, allowing for

auto-control of up to 30 sections. Spraying

pressure is generated by a 785 l/min

centrifugal pump.

The new RoGator 300 Series inherits

many of the features from the RoGator 600

self-propelled machines. Indeed,

The integration

of smart phone apps to

monitor and also operate

machine functions

continues. ”

Challenger says, about two thirds of the

technology is the same including the

boom and suspension, centre frame,

boom lift arm, plumbing and induction


These components are now incorporated

onto a new single-beam chassis. The narrow

design allows the same 35° steering angle

as the self-propelled to be maintained on the

50km/h-rated axle. This provides a 7.6m

radius of turning, as well as manual track

width adjustments between 1.5-2.25m.

A few years ago Horsch Leeb also

transferred technology from its self-propelled

to its first top-end trailed Leeb GS sprayer

and now, with the launch of its LT range, it

takes aim at the more mainstream market.

The most notable difference is a new

sculpted plastic 4000 or 5000 litre tank in

place of the stainless steel version used

on the GS models. The high Horsch Leeb

specification is still available, but offered


Challenger’s first ever trailed sprayers, the RG

300 Series have similar technology to the

self-propelled machines.

as options to reduce starting price.

The entry-level Eco model has manually

operated valves for both the suction and

pressure sides. For those looking for more

sophistication, the mid-spec models offer

automatic tank rinsing with the Continuous

Cleaning System (CCS), while the Pro

version comes with electronic valve control

similar to that on the GS models.

All models in the new LT Series are

available with 18m to 42m wide booms

and Boom Control, which won a Silver

Medal at the previous Agritechnica, is

standard. This active system allows the

boom to travel at high speeds at less than

30cm above the crop.

A piston diaphragm pump is driven by

an on-board load-sensing hydraulic

system and the machine is controlled by

the firm’s own ISOBUS terminal or via a

compatible system.

Horsch Leeb won a Silver Medal at

this year’s Agritechnica for its novel

BoomSight system, which uses a special

laser scanner mounted on the cab to scan

up to 15m in front of and across the whole

boom width.

Detect gaps

This allows the system to help maintain

boom height more accurately and, for

example, detect gaps in crops that could

result in the boom diving into the rest of

crop. Conversely it can ‘see’ obstacles

coming up and raise the boom to clear

them. If the obstruction is too high to

be cleared, it sends a warning to the


Kuhn continues to update the sprayer

range it acquired when it bought

Blanchard in 2008. The latest Lexis 3000

model, which made its debut at

Agritechnica, is aimed squarely the

popular 3000-litre capacity trailed sector.

It’ll eventually replace the Atlantis

models, but currently it’s available only

in entry-level specification with a 3000-litre

polyethylene tank and 24m wide aluminium,

hydraulically folding boom, although wider

units are on the way. A steering drawbar,

to replace the ‘headland assistance’ is

also coming in the future.

The Lexis 3000 comes with a choice of

three control systems which start with the

fully manual Manuset, which provides two

rotary valves. Diluset has a manual spray

control valve but electronic control for

auto-fill, plus the ability to control the

cleaning sequence with buttons in

the cab.

E-Set delivers fully automatic control

of both valves, providing auto-filling and

automatic control of the whole rinsing

cycle. There’s also the option of the new

Horsch Leeb’s new LT sprayers extend its range

of trailed machines into the mainstream.

48 crop production magazine december 2015

BoomSight won Horsch Leeb a Silver Medal for

its ability to scan up to 15m ahead of the boom.

7in colour-screen VisioReb terminal, which

provides full set-up, control and monitoring

as well as auto-section control.

In the face of the onslaught in the

trailed market, Vicon is hitting back with

the launch of its completely new iXdrive

self-propelled sprayer.

Available with either a 4000 or 5000-litre

tank, the iXdrive effectively merges spraying

technology from its trailed iXtrack machines

onto a skid unit supplied by Italian maker,


This is offered with three different

ground clearance and track width options

– 1.3m clearance, providing widths from

1.8m to 2.25m, or 1.5m and 1.7m

clearance models, both with a 2.25m to

2.95m track widths. Four-wheel steer is

standard, while disc brakes are an option.

Powered by 240hp Perkins engine,

the machine has a Sauer hydrostatic

transmission pump with Poclain motors

on each wheel. There’s a choice of HSA

aluminium booms or steel, HSS boom ––

both with the iXflow sprayer line recirculation

and pneumatic nozzle control.

Carbon-fibre boom

John Deere introduced a new

carbon-fibre boom on its new 5000-litre

capacity R4050i self-propelled sprayer.

While the boom, in 36-40m widths, is

standard on the R4050i, carbon-fibre

booms will become options on other

models, but they’re not expected to be in

Europe for two years, following extensive


Carbon fibre, explains John Deere, isn’t

only lighter and stronger than steel and

aluminium, it doesn’t suffer from ‘fatigue’.

The material is now much cheaper to

produce, which makes it a practical

alternative to steel. John Deere is still

developing folding systems, mountings for

nozzles, hydraulics and spraylines as well

as nozzle protection. The centre frame is

also likely to see changes, because the

boom is about 1t lighter than its steel


Removing weight from the back of the

machine, adds John Deere, improves the

weight distribution, which also reduces

compaction. But, even with the new

boom, this is largest tank that can be

accommodated on the existing vehicle


John Deere won a Gold Medal at the

show for its PAM –– Pesticide Application

Manager system. Developed in conjunction

with partners, including BASF, the system

helps operators protect watercourses and

other important areas and comply with buffer

zone restrictions.

Using PAM, operators can create field

Kuhn ise xtending its trailed range with the new

entry-level Lexis 3000.


The carbon-fibre boom on the new John Deere

R4050i self-propelled is 1t lighter than the steel


and product-specific application maps,

which include any necessary buffer zones

etc. The software then refers to databases

containing the relevant restrictions to

create a map for each product or field.

Using a reader on a smart phone the

operator can also scan the product bar

code to not only check it’s the correct

chemical, but also download a suggested

filling order if it’s being used in a tank mix.

In the field, provided the sprayer is

equipped with GPS and section control,

the controller refers to the instructions

on the application map to automate the

application. It also produces an as applied

map for record keeping.

Hardi has expanded its Alpha Evo

range with the addition of a 5000-litre

capacity model with new sliding hydraulic

track width adjustment and pneumatic


Track widths

The sprayer has two half axles that are

mounted parallel to each other on the front

and rear. These can telescope in and out

across a distance of 1m to offer track

widths from 1.8m to 2.8m, which are

adjustable from the cab.

Hardi’s new suspension is similar to the

existing system, but now uses a large air

bag in place of the previous coil spring

on the rear axle. Up front independent

pneumatic suspension allows each wheel

to move up and down individually.

The sprayer is powered by a 245hp

Deutz engine and has a hydrostatic

transmission that employs two Sauer

pumps that drive individual Poclain

wheel motors. A top speed of 40km/h

is achieved at reduced engine speeds.

The integration of smart phone apps to

monitor and, more recently, also operate

machine functions continues with Agrifac

ElectronicPlus, which communicates with

the firm’s EcoTronicPlus terminal. Users

A new app from Agrifac allows operators to use

their smart phones to operate functions such as

turning pumps and sections on or off.

must first couple the devices by scanning

a unique QR code on the terminal.

Then, via the app, this turns the phone

into a remote controller allowing operators

to turn pumps on/off and even start and

stop the boom sections to, for example,

check for blocked nozzles. On machines

equipped with individual nozzle control

it’ll also turn these on/off. The app also

contains the operator’s manual and other

useful information.

A new front and rear demount sprayer

developed by Landquip specifically for the

new JCB 4000 Fastrac made its debut in

the tractor maker’s livery at Agritechnica.

The design of the new rear demount

enables Landquip to fit its Alu-light tri-fold

The latest Hardi Alpha has new adjustable track

widths from 1.8m to 2.8m, along with a new

pneumatic suspension system.

boom for the first time in widths up to

36m. Other widths include 30m, 32m and

34m –– all of which can also operate at

24m. These are fitted to a close-coupled

high lift mast providing working heights of

0.5m to 2.4m.

The rear 2500-litre capacity demount

tank, together with a 1900-litre front tank

provides up to 4400-litre capacity. With

wider booms mounted to the new Fastrac

4000 the combination, says the firm,

provides a versatile high capacity, high

road-speed sprayer for those looking to

increase output without moving to a


Electronic control includes individual

nozzle section switching using Landquip’s

Poziflow continuous recirculation,

auto-section control, variable rate fertiliser

applications as well as guidance.

Landquip also offers the option of Seletron

twin or quad spray quality control, which

automatically selects the most appropriate

nozzle to apply at the optimum pressure.

While disposing of washings in biobeds

and by evaporation isn’t new, a modular

system that combines the two looks like a

practical new idea.

Phytobac, developed by Beutech-Agro

in conjunction with Bayer, is a totally

enclosed system that runs automatically.

Biological conditions

The relatively simple set-up uses an

impermeable container to hold a substrate

mix of 70% soil and 30% straw to provide

the biological conditions to break down

chemicals –– as they would in the fields.

Nothing comes out because the waste

degrades into basic elements or

compounds, such as nitrogen, oxygen,

carbon dioxide and water.

Washings are irrigated over the

substrate surface through an array of

nozzles and dribble hoses. The liquid flow

is regulated by a moisture sensor, via the

controller, which starts or stops the pump

in the buffer tank to maintain optimum

conditions for the soil micro-organisms to

break down the chemicals.

Clear plastic roofing sheets cover the

Phytobac to protect it from rainwater as

well as enhancing the evaporation of the

clean water produced. Air flowing under

the roof also helps to move away the

moist air.

One Phytobac will handle about 2500

litres of effluent in a year. Those needing

to process higher volumes simply need to

add more modules to suit the capacity. ■

The modular Phytobac system runs automatically

and processes sprayer washings through a

soil/straw bed.

Smart thinking on drills

and combines


Nothing about

the Seagull is

conventional. ”

Seeding technology has

come on in leaps and

bounds recently, while

there’s a totally new

approach on the cards

for combine headers.

CPM reports.

By Nick Fone

What’s on show at Agritechnica one year

is generally a good indicator of what’ll be

appearing on farms in the next two to

three years. And in the drill department

ultra-sophisticated technology certainly

seems to be the way things are going.

Great Plains has been developing some

clever new seedbed fertiliser application

technology in the US for a number of years

and is now bringing it to Europe. Designed

principally for row crops such as maize,

sunflowers and possibly sugar-beet, the

AccuShot system applies a measured dose

of liquid following each seed dropped in the

drill row.

Sensors on the precision planter’s seed

outlets are triggered each time a grain

passes. The system them calculates the

required delay and fires a solenoid valve

54 crop production magazine december 2015

to release a predefined shot of liquid down

the fertiliser line. Positioned in line with the

coulter outlet, in the shadow of the opener

disc, the fertiliser nozzle incorporates a

check valve that’s only triggered to open

when the pressure of liquid in the line pulses

as the solenoid fires. Critically this means

dust blockages are minimized, according

to the firm.

Blanket applied

The key advantages of this approach are

that fertiliser doesn’t have to be blanket

applied and by targeting it with the seed

there are significant savings to be had. In

addition, because it’s placed so precisely

alongside the seed, scorching is apparently

no longer an issue for the young plants.

In the main it’s P&K that are used

although the actual makeup of the liquid

can be varied to include a small amount of

nitrogen and micro-nutrients. Two units will

go under evaluation in Europe next spring so

pricing isn’t yet confirmed. All Great Plains

would say was that the payback period

for the system would be approximately

two years based on the potential fertiliser


Väderstad had a number of high tech

options for its drills it its stand. First up was a

system to automatically adjust the depth of

the leading cultivations elements, primarily

the Crossboard levelling paddles. The

system works by monitoring the height of

soil being carried in front of the drill and

then making small tweaks to the depth

control rams.

This ensures no bulldozing occurs but at

the same time makes sure the tines are

doing a decent job of levelling the seedbed.

It’s all controlled via the Swedish firm’s iPad

app which allows the operator to alter the

speed of response and limit the maximum

working depth. Currently it’s a prototype

concept that’ll be evaluated over the

forthcoming season.

Around at the back of the drill it’s metering

and calibration that get the most radical

revamp. Väderstad has worked with

Hungarian firm Digitroll (probably best

known for its blockage sensors) to develop

an advanced system to accurately count

individual seeds as they travel from the

distribution head to the coulters and enable

automatic calibration of the drill.

Dubbed SeedEye, it can deal with up

to 170 seeds per sec and will re-calibrate

the metering system twice a second. The

company says normal manual calibration

generally achieves +/-5% accuracy whereas

the SeedEye runs at between 1-2%. At

€7000 for a 6m drill it might seem expensive

but Väderstad points out that a standard

blockage sensor system will add €5000 to

Collars within each of four distribution heads on

Lemken’s Solitair drills are lifted and lowered by

rams plumbed into the same circuit as the

tramline markers.

The Great Plains AccuShot system applies a

measured dose of liquid following each seed

dropped in the drill row.

the price tag so having auto-calibration only

puts an additional €2000 on the bill, in

effect. (see article on p62 for more on the

Väderstad Rapid).

Although it’s been on offer for a little

while now, Horsch was keen to show off its

Seed Control self-calibration system too.

Ultra-sonic sensors around the distribution

head detect each seed as it heads down

the coulter pipes and send a signal to the

controller which adjusts the metering system

according to the pre-set seed rate/m 2 . The

set-up has been developed in combination

with Muller and costs approximately £4000

for a 3m machine.

If you’re keen on getting ultra-precise

however, the German company suggests

you might also want to take a look at its seed

singulation system. Fitted at the end of each

coulter tube over the seed outlet, enclosed

plastic metering wheels separate individual

seeds to ensure they drop one at a time into

the drill row.

Capable of running at working speeds

of up to 14km/h, Horsch says the system

can have a significant impact on yields,

particularly in crops that are stressed by

drought, flooding etc. In such situations,

harvested tonnages have apparently been

shown to increase by up to 10%. This is put

simply down to the improved accuracy in

seed spacing and the subsequent reduction

in plant-to-plant competition.

Lemken had its brand new 6m Solitair

25 drill taking pride of place on its stand.

Available in semi-mounted or trailed

formats, it has a goose-neck drawbar with

under-slung coupling that allows tined or

disc cultivators to be carried ahead of the

seeder elements.

As before, four metering units feed four

individual distribution heads spaced evenly

along the drill’s coulter toolbar. However the

metering units themselves have changed

from fluted rollers to a clever conical set-up

with adjustable vanes that can be extended

or retracted depending on seed size. This

does away with the need to switch rollers

when changing crops. The distribution

heads have also been altered to simplify

tramline shut-offs. A simple collar system lifts

up and down within each dome on the same

hydraulic circuit as the marker arms to blank

off the appropriate coulter pipes.

Lemken also has its own auto-calibration

system which works in a very different way

to both Horsch’s and Väderstad’s. Seed

comes out of the metering units into a venturi

and is then diverted up a separate pipe to

drop into a weigh cell. The drill controller

crop production magazine december 2015



Now optional on Horsch drills, individual seed

singulation units fitted to the end of the delivery

pipes mean the accuracy of seed placement is

no longer random.

assesses the amount delivered and then

automatically adjusts rates.

A relative newcomer to the UK, Italian

firm MaterMacc also adopts the split

metering-unit approach. By using four

mechanically-driven rollers feeding separate

distribution heads, each serving a quarter of

the drill width, it says coulter pipe lengths

can be kept the same, resulting in much

more even air-flows and therefore more

uniform delivery of seed.

The MSD 2.0 comes in 4m and 6m

working widths (we’re told an 8m is in

development) and is described as a min-till

drill with the ability to work into ploughed

ground so long as it’s level and flat.

Single-disc, double-disc and Suffolk coulters

are all on the options list, followed by

individual press wheels. MaterMacc uses its

own in-house developed control boxes and

Recently bought out by John Deere, French firm

Monosem had an electrically driven precision

planter on display on its stand.

CX-series combines get a refresh

There was just one piece of major news in the

combine front –– the announcement of a

refresh of New Holland’s CX-series five and

six-walker machines. The company is making

some pretty bold claims for the new flagship in

the range claiming it’s now the highest capacity

conventional straw-walker combine in the world.

Coming back down to earth, the major

changes come from an operator’s perspective.

Most obviously, CXs now get the same cab as

the firm’s latest rotary CR-series combines.

It’s bigger inside and is reckoned to have a

much improved layout with a revised colour

touchscreen that can be positioned in various

locations around the armrest. The joystick

no longer runs forwards and back in a slot,

instead acting more like the controls on

New Holland’s AutoCommand CVT tractors

–– the harder you push the stick forward,

the faster the combine will accelerate.

Down in the guts of the machine, sectional

concaves can now be slipped out through

the stone-trap and there’s variable-speed

straw-walker drive called Optispeed. This

automatically ups the pace of the walkers when

the machine starts to head downhill and hauls it

back when travelling up a gradient.

The company says the key reason for

introducing this system is that typically the

walkers are run too fast in a move to avoid any

chance of blockages. However this can result in

straw travelling too rapidly out the back of the

machine, carrying some grain with it. Varying it

automatically does away with this issue, it says.

To further deal with crops on banks and

slopes, New Holland has a variable-speed fan

and self-levelling cleaning shoe, although we

gather it’s working on a full body levelling option.

New Holland’s CX-series combines get a new

cab, controls and automatically adjusting variable

speed straw walkers.

The line-up remains much the same as before

with the addition of one new model –– the CX

8.85. Unlike the range-topping 8.90 which uses

a 10-litre FPT engine to generate up to 490hp,

it brings in a 9-litre power plant capable of

pumping out a maximum of 449hp. This is

said to have a major impact of fuel use without

impacting significantly on output.

is currently working on a GPS-controlled unit

capable of variable rate drilling. The 6m

mounted machine apparently needs just

120hp to pull it and costs in the region of


On the precision-drilling front, following

its recent acquisition by John Deere,

Monosem had its first electrically driven

planter on display. Called the Meca V4E it

uses individual electric motors driving

through rubber belts to power each metering

unit. The key advantage of adopting this

approach is said to be greater accuracy in

seed placement –– slippage through

ground-wheel driven metering is eliminated

resulting in a uniform in-row spacing and a

precise number of seeds per ha.

For tramlines, with individual units shut off

for sprayer wheelings, seed rates in the rows

either side can be automatically increased to

make the most of the available light and

nutrients made available by the unplanted

strips. More critically, with it now possible to

switch separate units on and off at will, GPS

Header innovations show way forward

control makes auto sectioning possible on

the headlands, eliminating overlaps and

drill misses.

The electrical requirement is said to be

relatively light –– 50Amps per unit –– with the

implement taking its power direct from the

tractor battery. Pneumatic versions employ

a pto or hydraulically powered generator.

Prices aren’t yet finalized but the French firm

says the electrically powered Meca is likely

to cost €1000 more per row than standard

versions. ■

While news might have been fairly thin on the

ground in the harvester department, there

were plenty of developments from specialist

header makers.

Perhaps the most striking was a folding

telescopic header concept from Italian tech

start-up STW. Dubbed the Seagull because of

its wingspan, its main frame is divided into

three segments. This allows the bed sections

of the outer two to fold up and over the centre

for transport.

But of course there’s still the reel to deal

with. Its central spindle is made up of telescopic

box-section so that it can concertina down

to a 3.2m road width. In a move to limit

protuberances at the extremities, reel drive

comes from a pair of chains and sprockets

at the centre.

Nothing about the Seagull is conventional.

The cutterbar bed sections are split down into

free-floating modules supported on skids to

track ground contours. Each is driven by its

own hydraulic motor. And, rather than an

auger to draw crop to the centre (making a

telecopic version would be some challenge), a

chain-and-slat system is used.

Currently the Seagull is very much a design

concept but full-scale prototype units will go

into production for field evaluation next year.

Taking centre stage in Canada’s exhibition

area was the Honeybee AirFlex header. Available

in working widths from 7.6-15.2m, the unit’s

unique feature is a flexible contour-following

knife cushioned by air-suspension. With support

arms cantilevered on truck-type air-bags from

the header back-board, the cutterbar has up to

23cm of flex, allowing it to scoop up laid crops

on the most undulating terrain.

Sourced from Schumacher, the knife is split

in the centre into left and right sections with

drive coming up through the bed via cams

and pitman arms to power the knives from

the middle. In the style of other Draper-type

headers, rubber belts draw the crop inwards to

the intake elevator. Fitted with integrated Zurn

side-knives and an in-built air-compressor, a 9m

version costs approximately €85,000.

John Deere subsidiary Zurn was showing off

an electrically driven header that it’s developed

in collaboration with the University of Dresden

and knife supplier Schumacher. By replacing

belts, pulleys, chains and sprockets with

individual electric motors for auger, knife, reel

and belt drives, the whole driveline becomes less

mechanically complex but more importantly it

allows independent adjustment of all the various

elements, according to the firm.

That means knife speed can be varied

separately to the table auger and, with each of

the adapted Premium Flow table’s rubber belts

powered by its own motor, it’s now possible to

reverse them or speed them up independently to

clear blockages and maintain even crop flow.

But it’s cleverer than that –– every motor

incorporates sensors which can be used to monitor

torque loading. Zurn says it’s now working with

its partners on software and a controller that

can process that information and use it to

automatically adjust all the other parameters

to ensure the header is being used to the max.

A further development from the University of

Dresden came in the form of an intriguing-looking

harvester design-study model. Tagged as

‘Combine Concept 2025’, the initial brief was to

work up an idea of how harvesters of the future

might look and operate. It has two cabs –– one

front and rear –– three axles to spread the weight

and a monster folding cutterbar.

Clearly the students involved know a little

about the hassles of hitching and un-hitching

headers so they went for the radical option of a

folding 18m table. Once swung round into its

transport position on its castor support wheels,

the driver then jumps down from his normal

harvesting position, lowers the rearward-facing

cabin down from up over the straw hood and

climbs in ready for the road. With the whole rig

running in reverse, the folded header effectively

becomes a free-swinging trailed implement,

9m long.

Built in Canada, the Honeybee AirFlex header has

a flexible contour-hugging cutterbar supported by

truck-type air-bag suspension.

All the mechanical drives on Zurn’s iFlow header

have been replaced by individual electric motors

allowing all the different elements to be


The Dresden University concept has two cabs

– front and rear – and travels in reverse on

the road.

Although it might not appear in production

in exactly this form, the university says often

individual ideas are taken from projects such as

these and integrated into commercial production

machines. Watch this space…

crop production magazine december 2015 57

Cultivators rise

to challenge of

fresh thinking

adjusted when working depth is altered.

This new semi-mounted Karat 12 is

available in working widths from 4-7m.

The company has also completed its

trial phase for the world’s largest compact

harrow, the Gigant Heliodor, which has a

working width of 16m and the capability of

cultivating an impressive 25ha/hr.

This is achieved by teaming up the

Heliodor 9 with the Gigant 12 system

carrier. Two 4m sections are attached to

the tractor via the two three-point linkages

of the Gigant system in two 8m widths.


From supersized cultivators

to ingenious tools that

measure soil strength on the

go, Agritechnica ensured soil

engagement was a hot topic.

CPM reports.

By Emily Padfield

You’d have thought that we’ve now

seen every permutation of the humble

cultivator, but German manufacturer

Lemken used its stand at Agritechnica

to show that’s not the case.

It’s launched the Karat 12, which now

features four rows of tines. There’s a

distance between the rows of 23cm and it’s

designed for both shallow and deep tillage

up to 30cm in depth. With eight different

share types and Lemken’s quick-change

system, the machine can be quickly

tailored to suit different conditions.

There’s an underframe clearance of

80cm and interbody gap of 90cm, meaning

high levels of trash can be tackled, while

both concave discs and trailing roller are

a single unit so discs don’t have to be

Folding sections

With a disc diameter of 510mm and a

maximum working depth of 14cm, the

Heliodor 9 alongside the Gigant 12 S

system carrier can be folded to 3.5m

transport width and 4m height (watch

out for bridges) and is shod with 800mm

wide tyres.

Väderstad won a silver medal at

Agritechnica for its automatic crossboard,

which it says delivers a more level field

with reduced fuel and power use. The

innovation involves a small skid, which

constantly measures the height of the soil

wall. This skid is fitted with a gyroscope

that senses the angle of the crossboard,

and this data is then used to maintain the

optimum angle. The system will be rolled

out to other features in the range but will

be available first in this guise and will be

controlled via E-Control.

The Swedish company has also

introduced two new models of its Opus

cultivator. The Opus 400 and 500 feature

the same strong frame as the larger 600

and 700 and have tine spacings of 27cm

and clearance of 80cm. A range of tines

and shims are available, while each tine

has a variable release force of up to

700kg. The Opus can work down to

a depth of 40cm and is fitted with

hydraulically adjustable

levelling units.

Cultivation specialists are falling over

themselves to develop machines that help

farmers create stale seedbeds, often at


specialists are falling

over themselves to

develop machines that

help farmers create stale


58 crop production magazine december 2015

Lemken launched the Karat 12, designed for both

shallow and deep tillage up to 30cm depth.

speed. The 12m Catros + 12003-2TS

offers just this, and can be specced

with an impressive list of features.

If extra penetration is required, the

machine’s two outer sections can be folded

on top to give a 7m working width for

tougher areas like trafficked headlands

for example, says Amazone UK’s Simon

Brown. “As you would expect, all this

folds to a manageable 3m for transport.”

The four-segment contour frame is fitted

with maintenance-free disc bearings.

The Catros 12003-2TS will be on show at

Lamma after being trialled this season on

a farm in Essex.

Mulch cultivator

The company also had a new Cenius

Super mounted mulch-cultivator with

automatic stone-safetyprotection. The

new style overload safety device is now

integrated into the mounted Cenius Super

models in working widths of 3m, 3.5m

and 4m.

On the C-Mix Super tines, the stone

protection is provided via a pressure

spring with a release force of 600kg and a

spring lifting height of 300mm. For bigger

obstacles, which require a lifting height of

more than 300mm, an additional shear

bolt, allowing the tine to move upwards,

provides additional safety.

Also, under heavy soil conditions, the

release force of 600kg maintains the

working depth right down to 30cm.

Claydon showcased its first lowdisturbance

shallow cultivator in Germany.

Designed to complement the company’s

straw harrow, the TerraStar is a simple

low-cost machine that creates a fine tilth

to encourage a weed chit. Weighing just

1750kg with a working width of 6m, the

machine has two knife bars on each side

and uses star-shaped points that cut

divots from the top layer of soil to create

a shallow cultivation pass.

Power requirement is at least 150hp,

for effective operation, and work rates of

9ha/hr are possible. The TerraStar can

also be used as a mechanical weeder

with multiple passes at different depths.

Geoprospectors’ Topsoil Mapper (TSM)

is the first tool for recording extensive soil

If extra penetration is required, the 12m Catros’

two outer sections can be folded on top to give

a 7m working width.

parameters and for variable machine

control in real time, according to the

company which specialises in geophysical

measuring systems for near-surface layers.

The TSM system is mounted on the front

Väderstad has introduced two new models of its

Opus cultivator – the 400 and 500.

crop production magazine december 2015 59

Great Plains to show all-new X-Press range

Those familiar with the X-Press stubble cultivator will

notice some major changes to Great Plains’ latest

generation at Lamma 2016.

The most noticeable difference is the re-designed

chassis. Taken from the SLD cultivator, the new

X-Press range features a more tubular structure

designed to absorb stresses and reduce overall

weight. This curvy new chassis has also been

designed to accommodate more spec options, whilst

still maintaining high levels of trash clearance.

According to UK sales director David Holmes, the

key to the new range lies in its flexibility for farmers

not wanting to be tied into one system. Although the

range was originally designed for primary cultivations,

the X-Press is equally effective as a secondary

cultivator for plough-based systems, he maintains.

Although the new X-press line-up will follow the

previous range when it comes to working widths in

both mounted and trailed guises, the number of

options available has drastically increased, meaning

buyers can really tailor the machine to deliver what

suits their system.

Firstly, the X-Press features several disc-angling

options. While limited disc-angling offers three fixed

disc settings, full disc-angling allows the operator

adjustability up to 25°. This can either be carried out

manually by a turnbuckle system or hydraulically from

the tractor cab.

Depth control is made easy using colour-coded

spacers and delivered by adjusting the rear rollers,

whilst there’s an extensive range of six rollers to

choose from.

There are also a number of disc specifications

available, including notched cultivation and SoilRazor

options, available in 508mm and 560mm diameters.

There are several disc-angling options allowing

adjustability up to 25°, either manually by a

turnbuckle system or hydraulically from the

tractor cab.

SoilRazors are a good option for those needing to

chop through tough crop residues like maize,

explains David Holmes.

“Turbo Coulter discs will also be available. These

are suited to minimal soil disturbance, as fluted

edges enter the soil perpendicular to the ground

giving maximum cutting performance, yet needing

less downward pressure. These are the same discs

fitted on Great Plains’ new Saxon drill and come in

515mm diameter.”

Disc spacings remain at 250mm on both front

and rear gangs (with the exception of models fitted

with Turbo Coulter blades) and there’s a spacing of

125mm between front and rear rows.

All new mounted and trailed X-Press models will

have the option of a levelling board, with the aim of

guiding soil more evenly into the rear roller, creating

a finer tilth, useful when used as a secondary

cultivator in plough-based systems, explains

David Holmes.

Trailed X-Press models have an articulated

headstock design for tighter headland turns, while

the long drawbar also allows for the use of wider

wheel widths and dual wheels.

Mounted units can be specced with an ST Bar

at the front of the machine, turning the X-Press into

a one-pass machine capable of restructuring soil to

a depth of 250mm.

New X-Press models are available in 3m, 3.5m

60 crop production magazine december 2015


The VarioGrip Pro tyre features an inner tyre

integrated into the outer tyre of the rear

wheel, allowing operators to adjust tyre

pressure on the go.

The new X-Press range features a more tubular

structure designed to absorb stresses and reduce

overall weight.

and 4m mounted and 5m, 6m and 7m trailed

versions, while David Holmes adds that the 8m

and 10m models from the existing range will still be


Also shown in Hannover was the Saxon minimal

disturbance drill. Initially available in 3m and 4m

working widths, the Saxon features Turbo Coulter

discs designed for minimal disturbance but suited to

high levels of trash. This makes it possible to drill

straight into cover crops after they’ve been sprayed

off, with a reduced risk of grassweed germination.

The 3m drill has 18 rows at 167mm spacings and

24 rows at 125mm spacings, while the larger 4m

version has 24 and 32 rows respectively. Both models

come with the same 3000-litre capacity hopper as

their Centurian cousins, while a

4000-litre hopper is optional for the Saxon 400. The

Saxon drill range will be available in limited numbers

from early next year.

VarioGrip Pro tyre pressure regulation

system at Agritechnica. Developed in

collaboration with Mitas, the system

features an inner tyre integrated into the

outer tyre of the rear wheel, which not only

reduces the net volume of the outer tyre

by 30%, but also serves as a pressure

reservoir for filling the outer tyre.

Continuous monitoring of the pressures

and setting can all be accessed via the

VarioTerminal and the system is available

as an option for the Fendt 900 Vario

with a tyre size of 710/75R42 from

next autumn. ■

of the tractor and records information

on the rooting soil layer with numerous

measurements per second, passing this

information onto the operator in real time

as either a map or it can be transferred

directly to the tillage machine on the back.

The simple measurement enables growers

to constantly monitor soil long-term and

target tillage appropriately. The TSM uses

customary data and interface standards,

meaning it interacts with pretty much every

tractor and terminal.

Often, operators are faced with the

dilemma of knowing they need to adjust

tyre pressures but not really having the

time to do it. Fendt showcased its

The Topsoil Mapper is the first tool for recording

extensive soil parameters and for variable

machine control in real time.

crop production magazine december 2015


Rapid pace for a

‘legendary’ drill



Väderstad’s Rapid

pioneered the cultivator-drill

concept and has become

Europe’s most successful

seed drill of all time. CPM

tells the story.

By Tom Allen-Stevens

Crister Stark was 11 when the doors of his

father’s workshop on their small, 30ha

farm near Väderstad in Sweden swung

open one day, to reveal a steel rigid-tine

harrow. “He’d bought the material for it

from a scrapyard,” recalls Crister Stark.

“He was fed up with the traditional

wooden harrows breaking all the time, so

decided to make himself a set of steel

harrows that was made to last.” Neighbouring

farmers soon heard about the harrows and

asked Rune Stark to make a set for them,

and it wasn’t long before Rune Stark’s

Mekaniska Workshop was in business.

62 crop production magazine december 2015

“His vision was to ensure that everything

he made delivered a clear benefit to his

customers. It’s a vision he impressed on me

–– I’ve never wanted to do anything else but

work for the family business and it’s kept me

very motivated.”

Tough patch

But by the early 1990s, farming in Sweden

was going through a tough patch. “There

was a crisis with a fall in currency and it

became expensive for farmers to buy

machinery. There was a need to simplify the

system and make crop establishment more

cost effective,” notes Crister Stark.

The inspiration came from England, where

during the 1980s direct drilling had drawn a

strong following. Väderstad introduced the

DS drill, which featured a single-disc seeder

unit mounted on a frame with rubber

cushioning –– seen as a pioneering

innovation at the time.

But it was in traditionally cultivated fields

that Crister Stark was convinced a greater

opportunity lay. “The cultivations farmers

were doing –– were they for the drill or for

the crop, I asked myself. They were clearly

for the drill. So I set about developing a

machine that would create the right

microclimate for a seed to germinate.”

Not only should the drill ensure the seed

is placed in the ideal conditions, but it

should work in a wide range of seedbeds,

from direct drilling through to a ploughed

field. “We realised there was a need to put

some form of soil preparation at the front of

the drill –– a big step forward was when

we fitted one of the early designs with a

crossboard,” says Crister Stark.

The small team of engineers at Väderstad

worked round the clock to develop the new

system, and eventually there were two new

prototypes to take to farmers –– the

Concorde and the Rapid. The Rapid was

based on the DS drill, while the Concorde

incorporated elements drawn from

Väderstad’s NZ tined cultivator.

Once again it was in England where the

drill took another crucial step forward. It

was summer 1992 and Suffolk farmer and

contractor David Baker was at Cereals on

the lookout for a new type of drill. “I was the

they really were revolutionary. I decided to

go with an 8m Concorde as this one would

do more of a cultivation job –– at the time the

Rapid had only the CrossBoard on the front.”

But the first autumn didn’t go well. “The

Concorde maintained a good depth but it

would pull to one side. Crister’s agronomist

came out and suggested we try the Rapid

instead –– they’d moved the design on,

he said.”

So the first Rapid arrived in the following

spring, this time with two sets of tines

preceding the single-disc seeders. “It

proved to be the right tool, but there was

a problem with seed delivery. We were

drilling peas at 320kg/ha and the seed

would bridge.”

Crister Stark came out to resolve the issue

–– pipes and distributor head were stripped

down and the design was refined. Before

The Concorde (pictured) and the Rapid were

the first cultivator drills developed by the

Väderstad engineers.

long the problem was solved. “That was it

–– that was the drill that subsequently

became the legend,” notes David Baker.

That same spring there was a press

event to launch the Rapid A. David Baker

demonstrated the new tool, putting peas

into strong Suffolk soil farmed by the Kerr

I came

across the Rapid

and realised I was

looking at a totally

new concept. ”

first farmer in the UK to have a Challenger

tractor and was looking for something for it

to pull,” he recalls.

“I came across the Concorde and the

Rapid on the Väderstad stand and realised

I was looking at a totally new concept ––

Crister Stark (driving tractor) was inspired into

designing farm machinery when his father

developed the first steel harrows in 1962.

The Rapid cultivator-drill concept

The forward speed of the seed drill is measured

by radar (R) and this controls the seed rate. With

E-Control, the drill’s Gateway (G) communicates

wirelessly to an iPad in the tractor cab.



The toolbar at the front cultivates and levels the soil. The intensity can be set hydraulically from

the driving seat on the move. The Rapid has a choice of toolbars:

CrossBoard Heavy is best for cultivated/ploughed surfaces. The row of crossboard tines can

be fitted with bowed points for aggressive cultivation while straight points are more forgiving.

System Agrilla (inset picture) is best on lighter soils, and loosens where the surface is hard.

Two rows of tines level the surface after ploughing and grade fine soil down into the seedbed.

System Disc is the most popular choice. Two rows of 410mm diameter, slightly conical discs

cultivate and slice the surface.

System Disc Aggressive, introduced in 2013, is designed to move and mix large amounts

of soil and crop trash. The disc arms, bearings and 450mm diameter discs come from the

Väderstad Carrier.

The seed coulters slice the soil

to a fine tilth. The seed is placed

at the pre-set depth in moist,

uncultivated soil and then

covered with the fine soil created

by the notched disc edges.

At the rear, each wheel presses the

soil down over two rows of seed. This

beds the seed in, improving conditions

for germination. The following harrow

creates a loose barrier to evaporation

that prevents crusting after heavy rain.


When Crister Stark demonstrated the new Rapid,

growers were impressed at how much faster it

was than the traditional power-harrow

combination drills they were used to.

The design team learnt early on to protect the

seed coulter with tungsten carbide to prevent

excessive wear.

family. “The field had been ploughed in

the previous autumn and had set quite

hard,” notes Crister Stark. “I knew this

was going to be a real test for the drill.”

But the combination of Challenger and

8m Rapid hummed through the tilth at

12-14km/h and the gathered spectators

were duly impressed. “The field was

drilled up in no time –– compared with the

power-harrow combination drills they were

used to, this was so much faster, and yet it

placed the seed at the right depth.”

Profit squeeze

The concept caught on fast with UK

growers –– as on-farm profits were being

squeezed, farmed units were getting

bigger and so were the tractors that grunted

through their soils. “The Rapid allowed

growers to replace two or three tractors

and power-harrow combinations with one

drill that would do a faster job more cost

effectively,” points out Crister Stark. “But it’s

also a drill that works well in all conditions

–– it’s very seldom you can’t drill with

a Rapid.”

Tuckwells of Worlingworth, Suffolk, was

one UK dealer that was quick to spot the

opportunity on offer with the new drill. The

firm unloaded the first two Rapids delivered

to the UK, and have gone on to sell


“It’s our biggest-selling drill by a long

stretch,” says sales manager Tom Mason.

“You get precise seed placement at high

speed. Farmers have used the Rapid to step

up their capacity –– you can get a lot of

acres drilled in very little time.”

The accurate seed placement at depth is

down to the configuration of the seeder

units, he reckons. “Each wheel is attached to

two coulters, physically pushing them in. The

A crossboard (top) provided the cultivation for the

first Rapid, but most growers opt for System Disc


whole weight of the drill is on the wheels, so

you can maintain that depth at speed.

Many coulters rely on spring pressure, and

they lift out when forward speed increases.”

But the design’s moved on, he points

out. “One of the reasons the Rapid’s

remained so popular is that the innovation

has developed. Väderstad’s constantly

refining the drill and making improvements,

so if you have a Rapid that’s six years old

66 crop production magazine december 2015

The whole weight of the drill is on

the wheels and each wheel is

attached to two coulters, physically

pushing them in.

and you’re looking to trade it out,

the new equivalent model will be

a totally different machine.”

And it’s not just in the UK

where the concept has caught

on –– around 23,000 Rapid drills

have now been shipped

worldwide. Most of these lie on

European farms and it’s believed

to be the most successful seed

drill that the continent’s ever

seen. Together the Rapid drills

sold to date have drilled an area

equivalent to more than half of

Europe’s entire arable acreage.

Now the drill’s been given

something of a face-lift.

Launched at Agritechnica last

month and getting its first UK

showing at LAMMA in the New

Year is the new Rapid A 400-

800S series. Brand new on the

drill and earning Väderstad

Machine of the Year 2015 at

Agritechnica is the company’s

new SeedEye seed counter.

Six optical sensors in the seed

houses accurately count total

seed numbers as they flow over

them. This brings the level of

accuracy for oilseed rape and

wheat seed to around 99% and

98-99% respectively, claims


“SeedEye means you no

longer have to calibrate the drill,”

explains Andy Gamble of

Väderstad UK. “Seed rates are

easily set via the iPad display on

the control panel in the cab. If a

seed coulter deviates from the

pre-set permitted variation, an

alarm sounds and the faulty seed

coulter is marked in red on the


You don’t even have to reset

the seed drill between different

crops, he continues. “This is

handled automatically by

SeedEye. The operator just taps

the desired seeds/m 2 into the

control panel.”

E-Control system

The drill’s radar measures

forward speed while the

E-Control system continuously

calculates how well the “set

point” for the desired volume of

seeds agrees with the actual

feed value as measured by the

SeedEye unit.

Other improvements on

the new Rapid include the fan

that’s been integrated high up

on the front edge of the seed

hopper, to minimise dust intake.

The seed hopper itself has

also been redesigned with

integrated working lights, while

improvements to the platform

and stepsprovide better access.

The machine’s discs get

the new V30 hubs. These

bearings require no lubrication

and have a design that offers

better protection against dust

The Rapid allowed growers to replace two or three tractors and power-harrow

combinations with one drill that would do a faster job more cost effectively.


The award-winning SeedEye on the new Rapid A

counts total seed numbers, saving having to

calibrate the drill.

and soil, says Väderstad.

These design iterations are typical of a

machine that has constantly evolved since it

first arrived in Suffolk in the early 1990s,

notes David Baker. “It’s a great concept and

a very reliable machine. But what makes the

Rapid different from the plethora of cultivator

drills now on the market is the Stark family

themselves and their belief in their machine.

“Any time there was ever an issue with the

drill it would be investigated and you’d soon

see a development would come through that

would improve the design.”

Crister Stark claims it’s the close

relationship the company has always sought

to maintain with its customers that ensures

the Rapid remains Europe’s best-selling

cultivator drill. “You’ll see more development

and innovations appear on the drill as time

goes on,” he pledges. “The Rapid is an

evolution that will go on forever.” ■

Innovation Insight

CPM would like to thank Väderstad for

kindly sponsoring this article, and for

providing privileged access to staff

and material used to help put the

article together.

Drill downsize helps business evolve

While many growers are upscaling their drilling

and cultivation equipment, Richard Watson of MH

Poskitt, East Riding, Yorks, has found reducing

the drill width has helped him cut costs without

compromising productivity.

As agricultural operations manager, he

inherited a Väderstad RDA 800 drill which his

predecessor ran for five years across the 1600ha

of winter and spring crops grown by the business.

This was used to establish cereals on heavy

bodied land on mostly rented farms as well as

on the sandier land closer to the home farm.

Cropping includes winter wheat and barley,

oilseed rape, spring barley, spring beans and

spring linseed.

“The Rapid 800 is an excellent drill on the

heavy land but it had a habit of bulldozing the soil

on the sands. We also needed a lot of horsepower

to pull it –– a 345hp John Deere 8345 –– which

made it an expensive way of establishing cereals,”

he says.

Various drills were tested, but having weighed

up all the pros and cons of the alternatives, it

was the Väderstad Rapid that kept coming out

on top. “The Väderstad drill is more expensive

than some other options but at the end of the

A Dolly wheel unit attached to the draw bar is

designed to take the weight off the drawbar and

the tractor.

day you get what you pay for.”

The decision was taken to replace the 8m RDA

drill with a Rapid 6m version as part of long term

strategy to reduce establishment costs. A Dolly

wheel unit attached to the draw bar, fitted by

Charlie Lewis of Park Farm Machinery, is designed

to take the weight off the drawbar and the tractor.

An additional pair of wheels attached to the Dolly

unit has helped spread the weight of the drilling

unit out across the full 6m working width.

“The extra two wheels make a significant

difference,” says Richard Watson. “The tractor

runs on 800mm wide tyres, so wheels one and

six on the Dolly run on the inside of the tractor

tyres to help minimise compaction across the full

working width of the drill.

“Our plan eventually is to reduce the size of the

tractor as well, and therefore cut down the total

weight of the drilling unit.”

A second modification to the drill are wheels

fitted to its wings to help hold it out of the sand.

He hopes to reduce the power requirement to

300hp and to use a smaller tractor chassis,

bringing the weight down from 16t to about 11t.

The combination of Dolly wheels and wing wheels

has improved levelling.

“I couldn’t believe the difference the Dolly

made,” he says. “We’ve demonstrated a 250hp

tractor at a drilling speed of 13km/h on the sand

with the Rapid 600 on Dolly wheels and it worked

really well, but we need more horsepower for

other operations on the farm so it’s a compromise.

We’re only in year one so it’s a bit early to say

how much our costs will have reduced. Diesel use

has definitely improved though, which we think is

about 20 litres per hour less.”

Cultivations vary from plough to minimum

tillage depending on the previous crop. Roots-crop

land tends to be ploughed to bury the tops,

Richard Watson was looking to reduce his drill’s

horsepower requirement without compromising


whereas on the lighter land which grows cereals

minimum tillage is the norm. Whichever system is

adopted Richard Watson is looking for constant

seed to soil contact and a consistent depth. The

Rapid 600 comes with System Disc Aggressive to

help improve the tilth.

“On the Rapid 800, the System Disc wasn’t

aggressive enough so we often had to go over

again using the Rexius Twin Press, TopDown or

power harrow, depending on the situation on the

day,” says Richard Watson.

“Now we don’t have to rely on a second

pass to achieve a tilth, which saves us time and

money, and we can also be more flexible on

drilling dates.”

And despite the reduction in drill width, there’s

been no reduction in output, he adds. “We used to

pull the Rapid 800 at 8-10km/h, but we can now

pull the 600 up to 16km/h, although we don’t

actually need to.”

68 crop production magazine december 2015

Brand move brings

multiple benefits

The 7250

comfortably pulled it

at 8km/h but the other

tractors just

couldn’t. ”


Moving its fleet over to

Deutz-Fahr tractors is

delivering cost savings

to one Cambs arable

business, with no loss of

performance. CPM finds

out and reports on the

company’s latest high

power offering.

By Rob Jones

Limited expansion opportunities for a

Cambs arable farmer has led to stepping

up on tractor technology to maximise

output and make the best use of all

available land at his disposal. But to keep

costs in check, this has resulted in a

switch of tractor make, and it’s a move

that’s proved to have its benefits.

Ben Brown is the assistant farm

manager for the family-run arable enterprise

T Brown and Son, based at Bottom Farm,

Covington. The business supports a thriving

seed-production operation that specialises in

producing wheat, barley, rye and fescue

grass seeds and bean seed as well as

70 crop production magazine december 2015

vegetable seeds such as parsnips, cress,

fodder beet and red chard.

The farm runs to about 600ha and is

growing up to 15 different species of crop,

all of which need to be kept separate after

harvest to avoid contamination.

Optimise the ground

“There are no real opportunities to expand

locally as we’re surrounded by family farms,”

says Ben Brown. “So we’re always looking to

optimise the ground we have. Going back

to a conventional cereal rotation of wheat,

barley and oilseed rape would just not be


Historically, the farm has used Fendt

tractors – Ben Brown likes the brand and

the local dealer A T Houghton provided a

first class service. “In our line of business,

downtime really isn’t an option either when

trying to get the crops into the ground at the

right time and in the right conditions or when

getting the crop off the field and in the store

at harvest,” he says.

But the local dealer lost the Fendt

franchise. he tried a number of other makes,

including trying the new Fendt dealer, which

was some distance away. Meanwhile A T

Houghton had switched to supplying

Deutz-Fahr, so he asked for a demonstration.

“At the demo, we pulled our 3.3m Simba

Ben Brown reckons he’s saved up to £35,000

with each of his new purchases.

Solo over heavy clay with its discs set at a

depth of 100mm and the tines at 200mm.

The 7250 comfortably pulled it at 8km/h

but the other tractors just couldn’t. Now

we’re pulling the Solo at 10km/h rather than

8km/h and using less fuel. Overall, we’re

looking at a 10% fuel saving across several

operations,” he explains.

On the back of the demonstration, he


The new 9 Series tractors top out at 340hp and

have TTV continuously variable transmissions.

switched to a Deutz 6160 TTV and a 7250

TTV, which sit alongside the existing Fendt

724 and a 716. So far he’s been really

impressed with the new arrivals.

“The TTV ensures plenty of horsepower

gets to the ground,” explains Ben Brown.

“We never actually felt that we were getting

the power through the wheels of the 240hp

Fendt 724.”

The move also introduced the farm to

Deutz’ precision-farming system called

Agrosky. Essentially this is an auto-steer

system that allows drivers to focus on fine

tuning and adjusting implements while the

tractor guides itself.

High precision service

The Agrosky system receives signals

from all available satellites and offers a high

precision service, claims Deutz, especially in

hilly areas and where there are obstacles

such as trees, hedges and telegraph poles

in the field.

“Being ISOBUS compatible means we

can run our 24m Knight Trail Blazer 4200-litre

sprayer through it as well as our Horsch

drill,” says Ben Brown. “We also use a

single-screen computer called Agrosky I

Monitor, which we find is an easy-to-use

interface with the technology, capable of

configuring and managing a whole host of

on-board functions.”

It’s been a core focus of the farming

business to fully embrace GPS technology to

get the most from available arable land, so

running the entire tractor fleet off the Agrosky

system was a major plus point, he adds.

Fuel costs have been further reduced and

time has been saved because there’s no

overlapping and headland management

has improved.

“We run to 2.5cm accuracy through RTK.

It cost £8000 for the full Agrosky RTK GPS

and ISOBUS-compatible package to be

installed in the Deutz 7250, compared with

around £20,000 for a retrofit system in most

other tractors.”

A key part in the decision-making process

when deciding on the Deutz was the view

of the operator and it became clear he

favoured the new brand, preferring its

cab design and relatively straightforward


“Fendt runs on a Deutz engine and Bosch

electronics anyway, so the two tractors are

very similar in that respect,” points out Ben

Brown. “The major difference however was

on price –– we reckon we’ve saved in the

region of £20,000 and £35,000 with the

Deutz 6160 and 7250 respectively.”

There’s better fuel economy, too –– a

saving of around 10 l/ha, he reckons. “It’s an

operator’s tractor –– anyone can jump in and

drive it but it takes a skilled operator to get

the full potential out of the machine. Settings

can be fine-tuned to ensure it runs efficiently,

aided by the tractor computer.

“We’re confident that Deutz is up to the

job –– the tractors are proving to be reliable

and offer good fuel economy. We’re also

lucky to have an excellent dealer close by.

Fendt’s a difficult tractor to beat, but in our

situation and all things considered, Deutz

gives it more than a run for its money.” ■

The 9 Series has been styled to give the tractors

an aggressive yet user-friendly design.

72 crop production magazine december 2015

New tractors on show at LAMMA

The new Deutz 9 TTV Series tractor will be on

display at LAMMA. The company plans to bring

a 9340 TTV to Peterborough that will sit beside

the 7 Series TTV Warrior, 6 Series C-Shift, 5

Series, Agrovector and a C9206 TSB Combine.

There are also plans to have its new 6 Series

Warrior on its main stand, which was unveiled

at Agritechnica.

The 9 Series, previewed at the last

Agritechnica in 2013, puts Deutz-Fahr into the

high power sector. Three models range from

290hp to 340hp and have TTV continuously

variable transmissions.

Operator comfort, fuel efficiency and low

operating costs are what Deutz claims are the

key attractions of the new beasts, styled in

collaboration with Giugiaro Design, to give

them “an aggressive yet user-friendly” design.

As for performance, the 7.8-litre twin-turbo

six-cylinder engines are compliant with Tier 4

final emission regulations. Turbocharged and

intercooled, they use an integrated electronic

control for their injection system, says Deutz,

delivering plenty of grunt for when working with

large, power-sapping ploughs, deep subsoilers

or high-capacity cultivator drills.

The ZF Terramatic TMT 32 continuously

variable transmission delivers a top road speed

of 60 km/h while the front axle suspension

system lends the 9 Series good driving

dynamics and operator comfort, says Deutz. The

PowerBrake braking system brings the tractor

safely to a halt. The hydraulic system features a

210 l/min load-sensing pump and up to eight

auxiliary distributors.

Deutz’ Maxi-Vision cab promises comfort,

quiet and good all-round visibility. There’s a

soft-grip steering wheel and antiglare colour

monitor alongside the driver’s seat. Options

include a 12” touchscreen monitor, the Agrosky

GPS navigation system and the Smart Farming

management system.

All-seeing eye

Improvements to farm safety are promised by a

new development from Deutz-Fahr that earned it

a DLG silver medal, awarded at Agritechnica this

year. The Driver Extended Eyes system integrates

three cameras into the bonnet –– one in the

front and two at each side.

The 6 Series Warrior was unveiled at Agritechnica.

The image is transferred inside the cabin to

the iMonitor 2.0 and the driver is warned by

acousto-optical signals if there is a person

dangerously close. The system also automatically

prevents the driver from moving the tractor.

The same system helps the driver see out

on to a road when joining from a verge-side

gateway and provides a good view to the front lift

for when mounting or dismounting implements.

The most

important part of the

sprayer is its ability to

carry the boom at the

desired height above

the ground. ”

Boom or bust for

spray deposition

How much difference does a

bit of boom height make?

CPM asks two growers who

have Horsch Leeb’s

BoomControl fitted to their


By Robert Harris

Tom Hawthorne may not have the hilliest

fields in the country but he’s convinced of

the benefits of using boom control for

applying sprays and fertilisers to his

2000ha of combinable crops and maize

at Flawborough Farms, near Newark.

He runs two Horsch Leeb sprayers

–– a trailed GS8000, new in 2012, and a

self-propelled PT270 delivered in 2014,

covering 24,000 spray ha per year.

Both are fitted with 36m versions of the

top-of-the-range boom with Leeb’s

BoomControl Pro+ and 25cm nozzle


“We have our share of uneven fields,

including some old rig and furrow, and

it’s quite remarkable to see the boom

automatically following the contours even

at speeds upwards of 12km/h,” says

Tom Hawthorne.

“You simply set the height when you start

and you don’t have to touch the boom

controls again until you come to fold up.”

74 crop production magazine december 2015

At a typical spraying speed of 12-14km/h,

he can use 80° 02 flat fans at 30-40cm

above the target applying 115 l/ha water

volume without excessive drift. According to

Horsch, trials in Germany on potatoes show

this set-up produced 20% better coverage,

albeit at fairly high water volumes.

Droplet deposition

Tom Hawthorne believes he’s achieving

more even droplet deposition and

better penetration –– very useful in all

post-emergence applications, particularly

fungicides. He’s also noticed considerably

less drift.

“I’ve had very positive comments from my

agronomist –– I believe 100% we’re getting

better control from all our sprays.”

Spray bodies benefit from automatic

switching, ensuring optimum nozzles are

selected at a wide range of speeds and


“The sprayers are excellent –– the skid

units are bomb-proof and they’re easy and

as comfortable as any to operate. But the

boom really is a remarkable piece of kit

–– everyone who sees it working agrees.”

A decision to upgrade from two smaller

sprayers to one at the same time as

switching from solid to liquid fertiliser

explains why Essex grower Tom Bradshaw

bought his Leeb sprayer.

The family business, based at Fletchers

Farm, Fordham, near Colchester, grows

1570ha of combinable crops. The new

A sprayer that offers a decent operational speed

while maintaining accuracy of application, even in

marginal conditions, is a must, says Tom Bradshaw.

machine will cover 14,000ha per year so a

sprayer that offers a decent operational

speed while maintaining accuracy of

application, even in marginal conditions,

is a must, says Tom Bradshaw.

Excellent boom control and contour

following was at the top of his list of

demands. “In my opinion, the most important

part of the sprayer is its ability to carry the

boom at the desired height above the

ground. This gives the greatest opportunity

to ensure that the target is sprayed

accurately with the intended amount of

active ingredient.”

This belief was reinforced when he went to

see a distributor’s blackgrass trials, where

adjacent plots had received the same

treatment on the same day. One had had

been treated with the boom carried 50cm

above the crop, the other at 100cm.

“The result was absolutely astonishing.

The droplet-drift dilemma

Sprayer operators face a compromise between

droplet size and drift, according to Theo Leeb,

general manager of Horsch-Leeb. Smaller droplets

– around 300 microns –– are the key to getting

the best out of many pesticides, he says. But

they’re easily carried away on a breeze and are

more subject to turbulence caused by high forward


Lowering the boom to less than 50cm above

the target achieves this, but requires a 25cm nozzle

spacing to maintain the correct fan overlap and

good boom stability.

Wind tunnel tests carried out for Leeb showed

how effective this can be. At 50cm, using 04 120°

flat fans spaced 50 cm apart, spray deposition

dropped from 100% in still conditions to 80% at a

wind speed of 7.2km/h.

Halving the boom height maintained deposition

at around 98%, despite having to use much finer

02 nozzles (to maintain the same water volume)

at 25cm spacing.

Raising the wind speed to 18km/h saw

deposition drop to just 70% at 50cm boom height.

However, at 25cm, deposition was barely affected,

remaining at 95%.

Spraying closer than 50cm hasn’t been possible

at practical operating speeds on all but the most

level ground, says Theo Leeb. But Leeb’s new

BoomControl system has changed that. Five years

in development, it offers sophisticated boom

suspension and stability, using two gyroscopes

and fast-acting air rams to keep the boom stable.

The most advanced version (Plus Pro) also

provides automatic height adjustment, above and

BoomControl uses two gyroscopes and fast-acting

air rams to keep the boom stable.

below the horizontal, for individual boom sections. It

allows operators to bring the boom to a height of

25-30cm above the crop when using 120° nozzles

at 25 cm spacing, or 35-40cm when using 80°


The higher boom height resulted

in the level of control falling by

over 60%.”

The closer the better

Most spray booms are carried too

high, compromising efficacy and

leading to excessive drift, reckons

Chris Martin of Agrovista. The

reason, he says, is that booms

are getting wider, with too little

thought being given to stability,

while forward speeds are also

increasing to maximise work rates,

making the boom less stable.

“The key to optimum

performance is to get the nozzle

close to the target, while still

achieving the correct spray pattern.

The biggest problem these days is

that the opposite is happening. Not

only are many booms unable to

spray below 60-70cm, they’re

actually being carried higher.”

As boom height increases, the

spray pattern suffers and drift

increases rapidly –– as much as

eight times higher at a boom height

of 100cm compared with 50cm, he

explains. “If you can reduce your

boom height below 50cm, that’s a

real step in the right direction.”

To achieve optimum coverage

you want higher water volumes

while retaining a finer spray quality,

especially important on difficult

targets such as small blackgrass,

he continues.

“Using 25cm spacing, rather

than 50cm, means you can double

the water volume being applied

across the boom without losing

In Sept 2013 he took delivery

of a 36m-boomed GS 6000

trailed model fitted with

Get the nozzle close to the target,

while still achieving the correct

spray pattern, advises Chris Martin.

spray quality. Because the boom is

so close to the target you can use

an 02 or 025 nozzle without drift

becoming a major problem.

“You have 64 times as many

droplets using a fine nozzle with a

droplet diameter of 100 microns

than a coarse one with droplet

diameter of 400 microns at the

same water volume. This achieves

much more even coverage as the

spray almost paints the target

rather than relying on big droplets

spreading out.”

This can make a huge

difference, for example Agrovista

trials over many years have

consistently shown that up to

50% better blackgrass control

can be achieved from the same

pre-emergence products through

using better application.

Forward speed can also be

increased when nozzles are close

to the target without sacrificing

performance, Chris Martin adds.

BoomControl Pro+.

At Fletchers Farm, the 25cm

spacing comes into its own

when applying pre-emergence

herbicides, particularly where

troublesome black-grass is

the target.

“We can spray at 150 litres/ha

at 12kph with the boom height

set at a relatively conservative

50cm. Over the past couple of

seasons we’ve seen excellent

control from the pre-emergence


“I think many people believe

they have the boom at 50cm but

there are several sprayers which

aren’t actually capable of getting

down to this level.

“We have some very hilly land,

but each side of the sprayer has

the ability to follow contours at

three places.

“The tip of the boom might be

above horizontal while the middle

section may be below it. The

operator has much greater

confidence that the boom isn’t

going to come into contact with

the ground,” he points out. ■

crop production magazine december 2015


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