OMEX Analysis Summer 2015 V7



OMEX Analysis Summer 2015 V7
Issue 21
Summer 2015
...keeping you up-to-date on the largest independent suspension and liquid fertiliser manufacturer in the UK
Trials News
OMEX Liquid Fertiliser
Low-Rate Foliar Nitrogen
Phosphate Enhancer
Horticulture News
Choosing Liquid
Precision Pays Dividends
Sugar Beet Variety Selection
Suspension Fertilisers
Contractors Corner
The OMEX trials programme is
currently in full swing with a record
total of more than 110 separate
product and application trials
currently running in the laboratory,
greenhouse, field plots, commercial
scale field strips and with
independent researchers.
Welcome... Summer 2015
Two years of bumper crops in the northern
hemisphere has taken its toll on prices for
most arable crops in the UK. This, more than
ever, means that high yields and high crop
quality are increasingly the only standard
that will produce a positive gross margin.
An integral part of the equation is the
attention to detail in order to maximise crop
performance of every hectare. The accurate
application of crop nutrition plays a massive
part in achieving this, which is why we are
seeing a continued increase in liquid fertiliser
application through sprayers.
Indeed the proliferation of increasingly large
sprayers (both boom width and tank size) is the
only way to do the job accurately and to cover
more ground, and unlike conventional granular
applicators, liquid application can be made in less
than ideal weather conditions.
As well as validating the benefits of our existing
suspension, liquid fertiliser and foliar product range
on a wide range of crops, we are researching a host
of potential new products aimed at improving fertiliser
efficiency, crop quality, and targeting major pest and
disease problems such as Septoria in wheat and
Clubroot in brassicas.
A particular focus is on boosting crop establishment
and development, as in most field crops, getting rapid,
even and early root and canopy growth is the key to
making the best use of available nutrition and sunlight,
which translates into higher yield potential.
While we have already gathered a huge amount of data
on crop growth and response to various treatments,
the results everyone wants to see are better yields
and quality at harvest and a cost benefit from the
application. We look forward to sharing this information
with you once all is safely gathered in this autumn.
The investment in bigger capacity sprayers and
precision technology coincides with much larger
farm units in order to achieve economies of scale,
yet the labour employed on farms continues to
shrink. ‘Precision farming’ is often seen as a
relatively recent phenomenon, but OMEX has
being doing it for decades through accurate
application of high quality compound fertilisers.
Rob Burton
Sales Director
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Changing from a plough to minimum tillage cultivation system coupled
with switching from using granular to liquid fertiliser has improved
accuracy of application and crop performance, as freed up storage space,
and brought in extra revenue for a contracting business on a Somerset
arable farm.
Andy Fussell of Fussell Farms and
Fussels Fine Foods, Rode, Nr Frome
grows arable crops including wheat,
barley, oilseed rape and spring beans
over 800 acres on soils that vary
from heavy Oxford clay to brash and
through to greensand. The majority
is heavy clay (grade 3) that produces
wheat yields of around 9t/ha. Barley
yields consistently average 9.3t/ha.
“We used to be a dairy farm until
1963, since then the land didn’t
receive any livestock manure until
I came back from college into the
business and the soils were in serious
need of feeding. They used to receive
a standard 20:10:10 or 0:24:24 mix
plus nitrogen in the spring. There was
no body to the land and the organic
content was very poor. It had been
worked really hard for years and
output was diminishing.”
The key focus for Mr Fussell was to
start improving soil quality across the
farm by including sludge cake, chicken
manure and river silt to help push P:K
levels up to 4/5, and subsequently to
introduce liquid fertiliser.
You can read about an example of one of these
modern machines in this edition of Analysis
– Robert Todd’s Agrifac; it is one of the most
impressive machines I’ve ever seen, despite its
size, its accuracy and fleet footedness is a sight
to behold.
I hope you find this Analysis interesting and
informative, and let’s hope for a good harvest and
an upturn in crop prices soon!
One of
our rep
small p
field of
wheat in
North N trials in a
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base has also led to an unexpected
boost to turnover.”
He adds that the farm did not have
enough appropriate storage for up to
200t of granular fertiliser bags plus he
was always beholden to the fertiliser
market price in January. Liquid
fertiliser has changed all this because
now he can purchase fertiliser when
the prices are more competitive and
have it delivered from Omex’s lagoon
in Swindon into two of his own 60t
liquid fertiliser tanks strategically
located on the farm.
Mr Fussell also introduced a change
to the farm cultivation system
by switching from the plough to
minimum tillage. An initial deep
cultivation of stubbles after harvest
with a 7 leg Simba is employed to
break up any plough pan or tramline
compaction. This is followed by a
Vaderstad Carrier that produces a
fine seedbed before drilling with a 6m
Kuhn and then rolled.
Switching from granular fertiliser to
Omex liquid fertiliser applied through
the farm’s new 24m Agribuggy
sprayer on floatation tyres has made
application much more accurate and
it has improved the environmental
profile of the farm.
“On a granular system, whatever you
seem to do on headlands to try and
reduce application inaccuracies, it’s
just not possible to avoid spinning
some fertiliser into the hedges and
field margins,” he says. “This is not
only a complete waste of money it’s
also not good practice when trying
to comply with cross compliance and
the ELS scheme.
“Our sprayer was due for
replacement but buying a new stateof-the-art 24m Agribuggy couldn’t
be justified unless we could double
output by applying both pesticides
and liquid fertiliser,” says Mr Fussell.
“Being able to offer a liquid fertiliser
service to our existing contracting
“We used to try and mitigate waste by
reducing the rate of fertiliser applied,
but then headland yields were seriously
compromised. Of course feeding the
field margins just encouraged weeds
and their spread from the margins into
the field, a real nuisance at harvest,”
explains Mr Fussell.
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“With liquids we can apply right up
to the field boundary with the exact
nutrition. Now the crops look the same
from corner to corner. The difference
in some fields is incredible.”
Mr Fussell’s oilseed rape receives
its first application of 15N15S03 in
early spring, followed by two further
applications of 26N5SO3. Wheat and
barley receive two or three applications
of 26N5S03 starting in February.
“With liquid fertiliser there is no waste
and no cost of bag disposal. We also
only pay for what we need,” he says.
“Our sprayer is fitted with GPS so there
is no over lapping, and auto boom cut
off means we can spray accurately in
odd shaped and small fields. We can
also keep applying fertiliser when it’s
raining or in windy conditions.”
Mark So
and And
y Fusse
In recent years, some distributors have introduced alternatives to foliar urea
to increase grain protein in milling wheat. At face value, the products look a
better bet than foliar urea in that they have much lower recommended rates of
application. Delivery is in IBC’s at a similar cost per hectare as foliar urea. The
question is, are they as effective?
According to 45 HGCA-funded trials, foliar urea increases
the protein percent of milling wheat grain by an average
1.2 and trials last year showed massive increase of 2.3
percentage points following application of OMEX Protein
Plus-S (foliar urea+sulphur). There are no published
reports on the effectiveness of the alternative foliar
nitrogen products, but distributors claim increases of
around 0.5% (ie around 1/3 the increase of foliar urea)
and often recommend that application is made in addition
to late season nitrogen as well.
OMEX Agronomist, Andy Eccles looks at the science
behind the products.
How much nitrogen is required?
Increasing the protein content of grain uses a large
amount of additional nitrogen. A standard application of
foliar urea supplies 40kg/ha N whereas a recommended
dose of 33 l/ha only applies 10kg/ha N.
The factor for the conversion of grain N to protein content
used to be taken as 6.25, but in the last decade or so
has been measured more accurately at 5.83. Based on
current knowledge, it is therefore possible to calculate
grain protein content by measuring grain N content and
multiplying by 5.83 and work back from protein content to
nitrogen requirement.
Based on this factor and a 9 t/ha wheat crop, to achieve an
increased protein of 1.2 the grain must utilise an additional
18.5 kg/ha nitrogen; a 12 t/ha crop needs an additional 25
kg/ha N in the grain. However, not all of the foliar nitrogen
is delivered directly to the grain, it must be absorbed by the
plant, elevate the plant nitrogen status and be relocated
and converted to protein as the grain develops. This
process is not completely efficient and only approximately
70% of the N in the plant is relocated to the grain. So the
crop 9 t/ha crop must receive at least an additional 26.4 kg/
ha N if it is to increase protein levels by 1.2 and a 12 t/ha
crop requires an additional 36 kg/ha N.
Based on this biochemisty, application of a recommended
dose of a low-rate foliar nitrogen product is likely to
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increase the protein level by a maximum 0.4, one third of
the increase reported in ADAS trials following a standard
application of foliar urea.
One of the claims for the alternative products is that
foliar urea application results in large losses of nitrogen
by volatilisation. However, independent controlled
experiments do not support this claim and published
work for the HGCA has shown that over 90% of the
urea applied to the crop is absorbed. No data has been
published on the percentage uptake of low-rate foliar
nitrogen products.
There is no published work on the effectiveness of lowrate foliar nitrogen products at increasing grain protein
and a calculation based on maximum efficiencies show it
can only be approximately 33% as effective as a standard
dose of foliar urea for a similar cost. Modern varieties of
milling wheat increasingly fail to achieve milling quality
so it is important that any additional nitrogen applications
produce the maximum increase in grain protein possible.
When investing in a protein enhancing treatment, foliar
urea provides 3 times the protein increase achieved
with a low-rate foliar nitrogen product and is therefore
significantly more likely to ensure crops achieve full
milling standard.
Comparison of protein increase from Protein Plus and low
rate foliar nitrogen
Replicated plot trial Castor, Peterborough, 2014
A Lincolnshire arable farmer who has experienced
significant improvement to uptake of available nutrients
by including a phosphate enhancer in his oilseed rape
nutritional programme, which currently utilises both organic
and inorganic sources of N:P:K, believes it could be possible
to cut back bought in fertiliser in the future.
Trials carried out by Alistair HallJones of R.H-J Farms, Toynton
St Peter near Spilsby last year
compared treatments of OMEX’s
phosphate enhancer TPA at 3l/ha
mixed with an OMEX 14:14:0 liquid
starter fertiliser applied at drilling, to
the liquid starter fertiliser applied on
its own and also against where no
fertiliser was applied.
“The difference between untreated
plots and the starter fertiliser with
TPA was 36%, which if you break it
down into cost is the equivalent of
about 18kgN/ha. Going forward we
aim to use less nitrogen in the spring
and by applying the TPA, that costs
£30/ha, we hope to make better
use of available elements otherwise
locked up in our soil.
According to OMEX the TPA reduces
the speed at which phosphate
is locked up in the soil and also
enhances its availability to the crop,
increasing rooting and improving
establishment rates. Phosphate is
known to be very immobile in the soil
and when applied as a granule it is
even less likely to be taken up by the
developing plant.
“We have recently installed an AD
plant which will use slurry and manure
from our pig enterprise. The digestate
will be returned to the land as a more
consistent form of organic fertiliser.
It could well be that by utilising TPA
in conjunction with pig digestate, we
drop the inorganic fertiliser from the
programme completely.”
“In liquid form and when applied at
planting it is a very cost-effective way
of getting this essential nutrient into the
crop,” says the company’s district sales
manager Ed Cooper. “The key is getting
the phosphate down to the roots at
planting in an available liquid form.”
In Mr Hall-Jones’ trial, comparisons
in the oilseed rape plots were
made in January and February to
coincide with the Green Area Index
(GAI) readings and spring fertiliser
application timings.
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Low rate foliar
Last year the farm returned to using
liquid fertiliser after an absence of some
eight years in a bid to reduce production
costs and improve accuracy.
Converting the sugar beet and maize
drills to allow liquid fertiliser to be
applied at planting cost £10,000,
including £8,500 for the front tractor
mounted S and K liquid fertiliser kit,
he says. A 6m Vaderstad Rapid drill
used for establishing oilseed rape
was also adapted to use the same
kit with an additional cost of £1,850.
The existing 24m Kuhn spreader has
been retained for back up and for the
main cereal dressings.
Establishing oilseed rape after wheat
requires a pass with a Flatlift followed
by a 6.3m Vaderstad Carrier with
levelling board, discs and ‘D’ rings to
Mr Hall-Jones has always been a bit
sceptical about nutrient enhancers
but if he gets a positive result next
year it will give him the confidence to
use TPA across all crops on the farm.
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Alistair H
create a tilth for the Rapid drill. Every
second pair of coulters is blocked off
to achieve row spacing of 37.5cm.
Liquid fertiliser is placed within the
root zone. The crop is then rolled.
The crop receives an autumn
fungicide application and then
375l/ha of ammonium sulphate
(8N:22SO3) in early February. Late
February and then again at stem
extension the crop receives urea in
two equal applications of 90kg/ha.
Fields treated with pig slurry receive
50kg/ha less nitrogen than those that
have not. Oilseed rape yields across
the farm average 4.4t/ha.
“On our old system we would
broadcast 100kg of AN in the autumn
at a cost of £30/ha to give around
34.5kg/ha N,” says Mr Hall-Jones.
“Our new system puts 80l/ha of 1414-0 with the seed at drilling giving
approx 50kgN and P for £26/ha. This
gives a saving of about £4/ha, but we
are also getting a lot more fertiliser
into the rooting zone, including
phosphate for establishment and
we’re not feeding the weeds!”
He says that the application rate
could be reduced further to give a
true economic comparison of each
system applying 30kg/ha N, which
would save around £10/ha.
“Across our full 70ha of oilseed rape
this could be a £700 saving with the
30kg of phosphate being thrown in
for free. The future has to be about
getting more from less,” he says.
“Current commodity prices mean
we can’t wait for them to improve so
it’s going to be about looking at the
other end – i.e. the inputs and utilising
available nutrients existing in the soil.”
The decision for one Gloucestershire arable farmer to switch from a granular
to liquid fertiliser system was based on better accuracy, a timely and
professional delivery service coupled with improved logistics.
With seven farms to manage as part
of a contract farming arrangement
that covers 3,200 acres and is spread
over 10 miles, Martin Parkinson
who is arable farm manager of the
Cotswold Farm Park based near
Stow-on-the-Wold has his work cut
out. With only three full time skilled
operatives to assist him, workload
pressure required a change in
management strategy.
Each enterprise runs its own
accounts but the general day to
day running of the operation is
managed through the Cotswold
Farming Partnership. Cropping is
based on combinable crops including
spring barley, winter wheat, oilseed
rape, spring oats and winter barley.
Average yields for Group 1 winter
wheat is 1.5t/ha and oilseed rape
yields 0.6t/ha.
Soils are mostly Costwold brash with
high stone content, lack nutrients and
have a poor water holding capacity.
Annual rainfall is only 750mm. Much
of the land lies 1000 feet above sea
level and many of the fields are small,
with several under 2ha.
The decision to go liquid coincided
with changing the sprayer, which at
the time was a 24m 3000l Sands selfpropelled machine and was replaced
this year with a 36m 8000l Horsch
self-propelled sprayer. The farm’s
36m Amazone ZAM Ultra granular
applicator has been retained to apply
P:K and compound to grassland.
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“One of our biggest challenges has
always been labour,” he says. “With
only three skilled operatives in the
business I have too many days where
everyone is either in the yard or
everyone is out of the yard. We were
spread too thinly at peak workload
periods and we needed to make
better use of available spray days.
“Fertilising was always a two
man operation and still is, but the
difference now is that it’s by choice,”
he says. “Output on the granular
system was between 300-400acres/
day compared to 550acres/day with
the Horsch. Being high up means it’s
often windy which can be a problem
when spreading granules.
“On a liquid system we can select
our spraying days rather than being
beholden to the weather. To save
time we employ a Unimog and mixer
tank which only takes ten minutes to
pump off mixed chemicals or liquid
fertiliser direct into the sprayer.”
In Mr Parkinson’s experience it is the
smaller and odd shaped fields where
applying granular at 36m is not as
good as a liquid system.
“We know this is the case because
we can see by the yield difference
between granular and liquid fertiliser
on the headlands,” he says. “Our own
study comparing granular and liquid
fertiliser in a 100 acre trial across
several fields last year showed a
yield difference of 2-2.5t/ha between
the headland and the rest of the field
in favour of liquids.
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“This demonstrates the limited
capabilities of a granular application
because it just can’t apply accurately
on the headlands compared to a
liquid system which is accurate right
up to the edge of the field.
“There are other factors to take
into account of course such as
overhanging trees, rabbit and slug
damage, but if we could get 70% of
the yield back on a liquid system that
would otherwise be lost on a granular
system on the headland, it makes
economic sense.
In the past managing granular fertiliser
deliveries has been a problem.
“Frequently it would be delivered
when we were at our busiest – often
during autumn drilling – leading to
additional workload pressure,” he
says. “It wouldn’t be unusual to have
three deliveries turning up at the same
time in three different locations and all
wanting the same forklift.
“On a liquid system all we have to do
is apply a bit of careful planning and
pre-ordering. The liquid fertiliser turns
up and is pumped directly into one
of nine 50t OMEX static horizontal
tanks. No on-farm labour is needed.
It’s all very simple and straight
forward,” explains Mr Parkinson.
Also, the undercover storage that
was required for the bagged fertiliser
can now be utilised for storing grain,
seed or machines, he says.
“OMEX literature claims potential
cost benefits upwards of £100
per ha by using its fertiliser, but
in reality we should get much
more than this based on our
experiences so far with small
irregular shaped fields. Having
got the end of our first season
I can honestly say I am very
happy with the decision to move
to liquid fertiliser.”
“Environmentally we were
compromised using granular fertiliser
even spreading in ideal conditions,”
says Mr Parkinson. “All our farms
are in the ELS/HLS scheme so it’s
imperative that we do not spread onto
any margins.”
For ease of management the farm
only uses one mix of liquid fertiliser
based on 24N:7.5SO3. This year
it took delivery of 1,000,000 litres
of OMEX liquid fertiliser which is
all applied in the spring between
February 10th and early May.
“We could have ordered two different
mixes with one of them containing
more sulphur for the oilseed rape,
but logistically it’s impractical with
distances between farms and the
individual farm rotations,” explains Mr
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Precision nitrogen application has taken a leap forward with
the development of a new fertiliser application approach being
pioneered by Altek, SOYL, ADAS, Finmeccanica - Selex ES and
OMEX; an approach intended to improve the targeting of crop
inputs as well as increasing crop yield.
The concept
was developed
for a
ows ense the
by Selex ES, a
Clus trol to dis n
global leader
of c
VariF h degree required
in electronic
o th
y hig
and information
onall Nitroflo t
technologies for defence systems
and aerospace. It represents the first of a
series of potential agricultural applications using remote
hyperspectral sensing services and big data analytics.
Hyperspectral sensing allows crops to be monitored from
space or at lower altitudes using manned or unmanned
aircraft and can identify variations in the development and
health of crops. The concept is now a reality with work
underway in a field in north Lincolnshire, where it is being
used to detect the nitrogen status of a wheat crop, down to
individual pixel scale. On the ground, this represents an area
of approximately 40 cm2.
The next part of the concept was the development by
Altek, based at Elsham north Lincolnshire, of the Altek
VariFlow precision crop sprayer using software from
Harrison Ag in the USA.
Until now, fertiliser could only be varied by control of a full
bout width with a solid spreader or individual boom sections
on a sprayer. Based on the principle of four individually
controlled outlets at each nozzle point on the sprayer
boom, the prototype sprayer is able to vary the application
rate, from zero to over 1,000 litres per ha at 50cm intervals
across the boom.
The technique is being trialled this year on a field near
Market Rasen in Lincolnshire using OMEX Nitroflo and
comparing a number of treatment approaches, from high
precision variation at the half metre scale, individual boom
section control and a conventional bout width variation. Initial
observations look promising and the operation of the Altek
VariFlow in the field is an interesting sight as nozzles switch
off and on across the boom as the sprayer travels the field,
depending on the scale of precision required.
The trial in Lincolnshire will be taken
through to yield
this year, allowing
lessons learnt to be
put into practice for
the 2016 season.
The sprayer
would also be
an ideal tool for
trial companies,
as a replicated
plot trial could
be laid out on
the application
map allowing
the operator to
Altek V
simply drive
through the
demons system fitted t
trator s
trial, leaving
the VariFlow to
apply the rates required to each plot.
A cluster of four nozzle outlets is controlled by software to
switch each nozzle on individually or in any combination to
generate the required flow rate based on the application
map. Different sizes of nozzles and nozzle types can
be fitted to meet the application requirement, providing a
variability in ranges of application rates from each cluster that
was not previously possible.
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In early January Rochfords Nurseries in Hertfordshire
took supply of a new line of OMEX manufactured foliars
packed in 1 litre bottles especially for the landscape
and garden maintenance market.
Rochfords are the oldest wholesale nursery in the UK
serving professional landscapers in the Chilterns, Lea
Valley and North London areas with hardy ornamentals.
Nursery Manager Guy Massey and the Rochfords team
stylised the new range to compliment their existing
range of Crop Protection materials. The additional foliar
products sold as Rochfords Root Builder, Rochfords
Routine Feed and Rochfords Revitaliser Pro.
‘The Plantation Nursery’ in Weybridge, Surrey also
took delivery of the new range of foliars, catering to
landscapers and garden maintenance companies within
Surrey and South West London.
Other roll outs will
take place throughout
the season to
develop a full
network of nursery
cash & carry’s and
distributors stocking
the widest range
of OMEX foliar
OMEX’s Ferromex, which is a unique super concentrated and high performance
liquid moss killer for use on turf such as amenity land, sport fields and lawns, has
been granted a new licensed approval.
Moss is not only an unsightly nuisance in lawns, it can
be a major problem to ball play characteristics on sports
fields. Moss growth is caused by a number of factors
including poor grass vigour, acidic soils, insufficient
aeration, poor drainage and shade, close mowing, overuse and a lack of feed.
Ferromex works quickly and is rainfast once dry, and
can remove even the heaviest moss within 7-10 days
of application. It contains stabilised concentrated iron
salts, including 16.4% ferrous sulphate, as well as the
added bonus of 4.6% nitrogen, which helps give grass
some recovery growth. Offering low scorch potential, the
product is easy to mix and is safe to use as well as being
suitable for application through any type of sprayer.
The targeted fields are remotely sensed from an altitude
of approximately 1,000 metres. Remotely sensing at this
altitude much reduces the effects of weather compared with
conventional satellite data gathering.
Extremely high resolution hyperspectral data is processed to
determine crop nitrogen levels which are used, in conjunction with a farmer’s nitrogen plan, to produce an application
map. This map is then interpreted by the sprayer to vary the
nitrogen application as it traverses the field with the operator
having minimal involvement during the process. Flow rates
are varied at each nozzle cluster corresponding to GPS
positions embedded in the application map, varying the rate
according to crop requirement throughout the field.
For maximum effect, it is advised that Ferromex is
applied within the active growing period of grasses from
spring to autumn.
Nutrient Application Map is trialling several
prescription approaches at varying resolutions to
identify the optimal nutrient dispersion strategy
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Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label
and product information before use. For further information
please contact your local OMEX district sales manager.
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It will soon be time to choose sugar beet varieties for 2016. It is an important decision
and growers should invest some time to decipher the new BBRO Recommended List to
maximise yield cost effectively and with minimal risk, says Ian Munnery, managing director
Provisional or Fully Recommended?
New varieties on the 2016 list have been ’recommended’
by BBRO because after three years of trials with
unprimed, pre-commercial seed lots these varieties offer
‘potential’ improvements over existing varieties. This is
why varieties are classified initially as ‘PR1 – Provisional
Recommendation – Year 1’. Thus 2015 is the first year
when these varieties are both grown in the UK from a
small commercially processed bulk and the same seed is
evaluated within BBRO official trials.
A ‘provisional’ recommendation is just that – Provisional!
With successive years of consistent performance
varieties progress to PR2, then PR3 and finally to ’fully
recommended’ or ’R’ status. Given a 1.5% year-on-year
national crop improvement it is quite a feat of consistency
to reach ‘R’.
Varieties such as Cayman, Lipizzan, Stingray and
Springbok continue to deliver.
To manage risk most growers are well advised to seek a
variety combination which balances proven, consistent
performance with the potential of new, but hitherto
unproven varieties.
Step 1 Choose a combination:
• 1/3 Fully Proven Recommended varieties (R)
• 1/3 Newly Recommended (PR2 & PR3)
• 1/3 Potential varieties (PR1).
Step 2
Refine your choice by balancing potential yield
benefits against weaknesses or inherent risks. Consider
year-to-year consistency as well as commercial and
pre-commercial seed performance, paying particular
attention to highly variable yields, excessive bolting or
susceptibility to disease.
Step 3
Ensure you have sufficient seed - order between 1.1
and 1.2 units with the aim of establishing 100,000 to
110,000 plants/ha.
Ian Munnery
Bolting – sow at the earliest opportunity, but
minimise the risk
Eighteen months on from taking
up his new manager role at R
H Lamyman Ltd, Ancaster near
Grantham, Mr Johnson is confident
he can boost yields by as much as
15% having applied suspensions
along with slow release nitrogen to
the sugar beet crop for the first time
this year. Potato yields have already
gone up by 10%.
The farm extends to nearly 900
hectares of limestone soils with P:K
indices varying from 2-3 and a soil pH
of 8. Organic content is poor across
the farm due to a historical policy of
removing straw after harvest. Sugar
beet yields across the 110 hectares
grown average between 69-74
Traditionally, R H Lamyman applied
granular fertiliser using a standard
P:K and salt blend, which was
applied by a local contractor in the
autumn. But, it is the fine tuning
of nutritional inputs brought by
suspension fertiliser technology that
are applied in the spring that gives it
the edge over a granular equivalent.
Look carefully at year-to-year early bolting data on the
list, not just the 3 year average. Early sown bolting trials,
typically drilled in late February, give a good indication of
bolting levels over successive years.
A good spray programme is essential to protect the crops,
particularly those that will be lifted late. Sprays must
be applied in a timely fashion and the crop monitored
with this in mind. Completely susceptible varieties may
increase the risk of missing the first crucial treatment.
EMAIL [email protected]
OMEX suspension fertilisers offer growers more than just a
cost-effective alternative to a granular system according to
Lincolnshire arable farmer Adrian Johnson, who has recently
completed the conversion of his farm’s nutritional programme.
“I brought OMEX with me from
Holbeach Marsh where I used to
farm,” says Mr Johnson. “I’ve basically
grown up with the concept of tailormade suspension fertiliser so I am
fully aware of the benefits it can bring.”
On average, early sowing – before Mid-March – can offer
up to 10% more yield than later drilling. But early drilling
comes with a risk to emergence and a larger risk from
bolting. This is why ’Early Sown Bolting’ data is important
for variety choice.
CALL 01526 396000
“Our sugar beet receives its entire
nutrient requirement in March,
including nitrogen plus Didin, which
controls the release of nitrate to the
crop, just prior to drilling. This saves
two passes through the crop with all
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the associated costs and workload.
The savings we hope to make is as
broad as it is long,” says Mr Johnson.
“The application cost saving by
putting everything in the tank at the
same time roughly equates to the
additional cost of Didin.”
OMEX suspension is applied by
local contractor Charles Wright.
Suspension tankers from Bardney in
Lincolnshire are delivered direct to
the fields that need treating.
“I have been here for 18 months and
we have now switched completely
from a granular to suspension
system,” explains Mr Johnson.
“Not only has accuracy and output
improved, but we can also now
better utilise our own staff on other
jobs at key times during the autumn
and spring. We grow 121 hectares
of potatoes too which is labour
intensive, especially at planting.”
This is the first year Mr Johnson
has used OMEX suspension on the
sugar beet on the farm but it is the
second year it has been used on
the potatoes. He is confident that
bespoke and tailor made suspension
fertiliser can lift sugar beet yields by a
similar margin.
An advocate of suspension fertiliser
for many years Mr Johnson says
that switching to OMEX suspension
has saved about £4-£5/ha across
the farm already, but there are many
more benefits to this technology
than simply offering a cost effective
alternative to a granular system.
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Adrian Jo
“Ease of application has to be one
of the key benefits of suspension
fertiliser,” he says. “Bagged fertiliser
that is normally delivered in the
autumn has all winter to settle out,
which compromises application
accuracy. Uneven particle size
coupled with a variable and
inconsistent product quality can
also have a significant impact on
spreadability. OMEX suspension
fertiliser is delivered in the spring
straight to the field so it doesn’t stay
around long enough to settle out
before it’s applied.
“Liquid and suspension fertiliser is
always consistent and the accuracy
is the same right to the end of the
boom, which is critical on headlands
where no fertiliser can land on ELS
margins or is wasted in hedgerows,”
explains Mr Johnson.
“I have definitely noticed better crop
evenness from headland to headland
with suspensions compared to
granular. In sugar beet we should
increase yields on the headlands
alone by 15%, which means being
able to boost average yields to about
94tonnes/hectare. Our aim is to grow
our contract tonnage off fewer acres.”
He adds that in liquid form, nutrients
are more readily available too – a
huge advantage in drought like
situations when granules stay on the
surface and play no role until it rains.
He can also tank mix pesticides such
as Roundup and Avadex in with the
suspension fertiliser too.
Contractors Corner:
More growers are turning to the professional contractor who can provide
a bespoke suspension fertiliser spreading operation that relies on quality
of product, speed of delivery and good service.
According to seasoned OMEX contractor
Robert Todd of R J C Todd Ltd of Low
Grounds Farm, Hatfield Woodhouse
near Doncaster, with more than 20 years
experience of applying suspension
fertiliser and agrochemicals under his
belt, the purchase of a state-of-the-art
36m 8000l Agrifac Endurance selfpropelled sprayer has already started to
pay dividends. It is the first of its kind in
the UK and only the ninth built worldwide.
“The reception we are getting from existing
and new business is really encouraging.
The contracting option is much more
attractive now to growers that would not
have entertained the notion even a few
years ago,” he says. “Suspension fertiliser
is so much better quality than in the early
days and sprayer technology is so much
more sophisticated.
A quality OMEX suspension product and
sprayer delivery system has to be matched
by OMEX’s distribution department from
Bardney to ensure maximum efficiency. This
is left to the company’s Paul Wakelen who
runs a tight ship keeping deliveries on time
and contractors rarely waiting for product.
“We wanted a 6000l self propelled sprayer
but there wasn’t one available so we went
for the 8000l model,” says Mr Todd. “Despite
a weight of 13t the 50:50 weight distribution
across all four large diameter wheels means
that there is very little compaction.
“There are no wheelings even when full,”
he says. “But, if it’s wet we reduce the
amount of fertiliser in the tank. A bigger tank
has given us greater operating flexibility.”
Mr Todd’s Agrifac sprayer replaced a 36m,
4000l Unimog, which has been retained as
back-up and also to do the agrochemical
spraying. He spread suspension fertiliser
to over 25,000 acres on the old system,
but the new sprayer has increased
capacity by about 40%, which means an
improved service to existing customers
and an opportunity to expand.
“So far we have been able to cope with
just the one machine applying suspension
fertiliser,” he says. “On heavy rates we can
empty a 25t load of potato fertiliser in 25
minutes with a forward speed of 13kph.
The new sprayer has GPS and Autopilot
so we can watch and monitor the boom
and nozzles more closely without having
to concentrate on steering so much.”
Two years ago Mr Todd bought an Agrifac
self-propelled sugar beet harvester
as part of the contracting service he
offers growers in the area. Excellent
build quality and service then led him
into a conversation about sprayers, but
he did not feel that the Agrifac Condor
self-propelled sprayer offered anything
over his existing Unimog. Things
changed though with the launch of the
Agrifac Endurance which gave him the
confidence to make the purchase.
“It’s tailor made for us,” he says.
“Excellent spraying capability coupled
with higher clearance making it suitable
for oilseed rape and maize and an
unsurpassed service.”
Increased workload pressure also drew Mr
Todd to the fact that it only now takes ten
minutes to switch from suspension fertiliser
to wet spraying. The shape of the tank
ensures no fertiliser remains in the tank.
“Speed of change over is a massive step
forward for contractor spraying. What used
to take half an hour now takes minutes,”
he says. “Also, the introduction of a
potentiometer for measuring how many
litres are taken out of the tank rather than
relying on a simple visible side gauge has
improved accuracy massively.”
With customers over 35 miles away,
roadwork is an issue for Mr Todd so the
fact that the Endurance offered good
Dave Mattrt Todd and
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operator safety and comfort at speeds of
up to 50kph on the highway was a great
advantage. Big wheel motors and heavy
duty brakes add to safety.
“Our operating area hasn’t changed
despite having a higher capacity sprayer,
but the bigger tank means we are
effectively doing the job of two machines.
Output with the Unimog is about 1500
litres/ha at 7.5kph, but with the Agrifac
we can apply the same amount at
13kph – nearly doubling output,” says Mr
Todd. “Applying up to nine lorry loads a
day depending on rates is achievable,
without putting any more pressure on the
operator, who now comes in to work more
refreshed in the morning even though he
has completed a greater workload.
“Individual nozzle shut off, autopilot and
the option of variable rate capability,
this is technology growers expect us to
have in this ever changing commercial
climate, giving the client the knowledge
that we are applying products with state
of the art equipment.”
Your local OMEX contact
District Sales Manager
Sales Director
District Sales Manager
Gavin Inglis
M 07850 475012
E [email protected]
Rob Burton
M 07970 577903
E [email protected]
Ed Cooper
M 07880 497882
E [email protected]
District Sales Manager
Dean Waddingham
M 07850 475019
E [email protected]
District Sales Manager
Steve Ebbage
M 07850 475014
E [email protected]
District Sales Manager
District Sales Manager
Chris Pacey
M 07702 640830
E [email protected]
Mark Southwell
M 07826 915270
E [email protected]
Sales Director
District Sales Manager
Ben Blom
M 07850 475035
E [email protected]
Andrew Butler
M 07970 621396
E [email protected]
District Sales Manager
Mark Riches
M 07557 765576
E [email protected]
Business Development Manager
Edward Dickinson
M 07814 891160
E [email protected]
District Sales Manager
Scott Baker
M 07850 475018
E [email protected]
OMEX Agriculture Limited • Bardney Airfield • Tupholme • Lincoln • LN3 5TP
Tel 01526 396000 • Fax 01526 396001 • Email [email protected] • Web
Paul Wakelen Site Manager, Bardney, T: 01526 396014
Ken Atter Site Manager, King’s Lynn T: 01553 816013

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