SOYL launches largest ever variable rate nitrogen trial

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Precision crop production innovator, SOYL is planning the UK’s largest ever variable rate nitrogen trial during spring 2018.

The trial is being managed in partnership with parent company Frontier Agriculture’s 3DThinking research and development trials team.

“Significant evidence to support the use of variable rate nitrogen already exists based on our trials over the last 12 years,” explains SOYL commercial director, Simon Parrington. “This new wider scale trial has been designed to test how we can push further to maximise the yield and quality improvements that variable rate nitrogen gives.

“A number of growers have already signed up to take part in the trial but we have room for more. The more growers we have involved, the more comprehensive the trial will be. We’re expecting at least 100 growers but there is no upper limit.”

To take part growers will need:

  • A field of winter wheat, winter barley or winter oilseed rape for season 2017/18
  • Yield mapping capability in place
  • Variable rate application equipment (liquid or granular)in place.

All data, trial design, analytics and interpretation will be managed by SOYL.   Individual harvest results will be analysed and shared with each grower taking part. They will also gain access to the findings of the national trial.

By carrying out a trial of over 100 fields SOYL will be able to compare how variable rate nitrogen works across different soil types, varieties, geographies and yield potentials. This will then help further improve the agronomic models used by both SOYL and parent company, Frontier Agriculture and their agronomists.

Whilst underpinned by complex imagery processing and agronomic modelling, variable rate nitrogen is very simple to use. Growers can choose to self-serve through an easy to use website or call SOYL’s office and application maps will be promptly provided. “The office team is set up to meet the tightest of deadlines; we fully appreciate that during the busy spring season maps need to be shared quickly. The yield benefits of variable nitrogen are appreciated by growers but the service has to be simple and straightforward to use too.”

SOYL has developed an on- farm automated trial system over the last five years that not only allows yield comparisons to be easily made but also uses past data such as satellite imagery, soil type maps and yield data to ensure there is no bias to any results.

To set up the trial all that is required is the grower’s normal application rate in kg/ha, the type of fertiliser being used and the direction of tramlines. SOYL’s variable rate nitrogen support team will then create a trial plan for customer approval. This is then made into an application plan that is compatible with the GPS kit on the grower’s tractor or sprayer. The operator simply presses the go button as normal and the trial plan will be executed automatically.

James Moldon, head of technical services for Frontier adds, “Our 3DThinking trials programme is all about rigour and detail in order to deliver evidence-based advice for growers seeking to optimise the results from crop production. SOYL’s trial fits in perfectly as the wide range of trial locations being used should give us a broad range of results to support individual regions.”

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