As the 2023 season draws to an end, it’s time to take stock of what, for many, has been a challenging year. Reports on harvest are coming in and yields are pretty variable & pretty average. Proteins in milling wheat are pretty variable as well. Crops that looked fantastic in May aren’t always showing that promise in the early harvest figures, whereas fields which were dirty or almost written off are yielding as well as some of those which looked full of potential in early June.  In short, it’s tough to try and pinpoint what lessons we can learn for next year. What is clear though is that no matter what we do, Mother Nature will still always win. The pattern of the spring/summer was pretty different to the last 2 years…

Combine Harvester, Is this the new norm post
Average Weather

2023 compared to % average (1991 – 2020) Data courtesy of Met Office

Perhaps it’s just the season but ‘dry-wet-dry-wet-really wet’ doesn’t appear to be a winning combination in arable farming. There have been a lot of forage crops grown well and on very little this year so there’s the silver lining!

How much early nitrogen was potentially lost when, after a settled, warm period in February where a lot of inputs were applied, March was exceptionally wet? The May drought didn’t seem to do too much harm at the time, but plants started growing pretty quickly and perhaps utilised more nutrition and nitrogen than we thought. Foliars didn’t achieve the same responses as last year but were we just asking too much from them to offset without realising the deficit they were trying to overcome.

Harvest speaks for itself (how many wonderful photos have we seen on social media in the last 2 months of combines and trailers in front of dark cloudy skies). The weather in July was nothing short of atrocious and didn’t improve much in August.

A client commented that all his wheat averaged about 8.5t/ha which was below average. What was ridiculous is that he had a variety of programmes on differing soil types. Low and high N, different nutrition and fungicide programmes AND different varieties…. It all yielded about the same.

The agricultural industry is, and always has been, great at being able to move on from its challenges. So maybe that’s what we need to do here. Pencil 2023 as one to forget and collectively believe that 2024 will be an improvement!

Cover Crop Table, Aiva Fertiliser

So, what’s been going on?

Cover crops

Cover crops are in or should be! Again, the early drilled covers are showing that a couple of weeks can make a huge difference to biomass and that is the ultimate aim. These big covers cycle huge amount of nutrients and pump large amounts of exudates into the soil. Particularly on the lighter soils we are really starting to see the benefits in the following years.

Results from a big cover after Winter Barley on some low fertility light soil. Look how much N and K it has grabbed. This all won’t be available to the next crop, but good percentage will be. This will depend on how you want to destroy the cover, work in as a green manure, sprayed off with glyphosate or grazed by stock all will have different results.

 

Drilling

Its superb conditions for drilling (growing) crops are up and away quickly but there are still a few issues about. We still would recommend a seed drench to get these crops away to the best possible start, much of the yield potential of the crop is set within the first 30-60 days.

More farmers are seeing the benefit of liquid applicators which allow you to put not only fertilizer, but also carbon, silicon, beneficial biology and essential trace elements ‘down the spout’. If you don’t have a liquid applicator then we have ‘Plan B’ approach of applying these products through the sprayer at 2/3 true leaves.

There is a dilemma for many farms and that is the implication that ‘regenerative’ farming is just a blip. Sorry to suggest this, but intensive farming is the blip, launched some 80 years ago and is now in decline simply because it creates the problems we have and has destroyed infrastructure and promoted pollution. The second issue is the blending of two systems. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but one has to ask what is the reason that you wish to change. We still need to consider that carbon is the basis for farming, and not Nitrogen. Whilst Nitrogen and chemicals rule the roost, then changes to soil become a slow or negative process. Growing a modest cover crop once every three-four years, staying with tight rotations and chemical based solutions does not provide the impetus for change. This may make your system more profitable in the short term but does not create the link and connection we are looking for to dynamically change to ‘regenerative’ agriculture.

The skill and understanding on how this is achieved is what farming is all about and offers the true value of how we understand the farm, the environment, its commitments, and its future. It all becomes a big part of how change is implemented.

This process begins with a change in ones thinking, open your mind to the prospect that things can be different, if you would like to ask any questions whatsoever then please do feel free to contact us.

What’s new?

Fish Hydrolysate

As regenerative farmers and advisers seek out more sustainable sources of soil and plant nutrients, there is increased interest in Fish hydrolysate. A soil improver to improve your soils biology and promote natural, sustainable plant growth, that revives a traditional farming method that time has forgotten, and one which aligns with the path of regenerative farming.

Fish hydrolysate benefits

  • Promotes better root growth and structure to reach their full potential.
  • Enhances soil biology, promoting beneficial microorganisms and earthworms.
  • Water dynamics, as biologically active soil can retain moisture, release nutrients and increase nutrient availability.
  • Providing nutrients and diversity of amino acids in a bioavailable form, feeding both the plant and the soil.
  • Naturally high in fatty acids that promotes the growth of beneficial fungi to aid natural resistance to fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens in growing plants to aid disease suppression.
  • Helps to rebalance the soil biology, creating a healthier soil and a more productive plant.
  • Fish Hydrolysate is characterised by a uniform nutritional composition of naturally occurring nitrogen (5%), Phosphorus (0.7%), Potassium (0.6%), Calcium (0.6%), Magnesium, trace elements and 18 essential amino acids, typically 25-30% and particularly high in Alanine, Arginine, Glutamic, Glycine, Proline….
  • Can be applied (after dilution) to the soil 6-12L/ha and/or as a foliar spray 4-8L/ha.

We understand individual benefits to soil and plant health of carbon-based liquid fertilisers and feel there could be dual benefit to applying Fish Hydrolysate with CITADEL (fermented molasses) in a 1:2 ratio as they complement one another, especially as CITADEL is very high in Glutamic acid, humic extracts and vital plant sugars and proteins.

Aiva are national suppliers of a Soil Association and Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) approved fish hydrolysate for use as an organic soil improver. If you’re interested in learning more about Fish Hydrolysate, its benefits and how it can fit into a system, let us know and lets have a conversation.

New advancements in the multi nutrient complexes

Aiva is currently in the process of developing a new complexed range of highly efficient liquid foliar Amide Nitrogen plus macro and micronutrients. Using the inhouse Flex Fertiliser System and product development program to produce products of the right ratio of nutrients for greater NUE, plant health benefits and the user benefit of multi-nutrient content in one application, rather than mixing multiple products. Any specific deficiencies identified can be addressed with AF straight nutrient products mixed in at point of application.

Sneak peak products:

  • NK 16-5 (14.9% Amide N), Ca, Mg, Mn, B, Zn + 1.1% Nitrate

Applied at 20-50l/ha applies 4-20kgN/ha; equivalent to 16-40kgN/ha soil applied during peak crop demand, plus 1.24-3.10kg K2O/ha, balanced with Cao & MgO and the trace elements.

  • NKS 15.9-3.6-3.1 (14.8% Amide N), Mg, Mn + 1.1% Nitrate

Applied at 20-50l/ha applies 4-20kg N/ha; equivalent to 16-40kg N/ha soil applied during peak crop demand, plus 0.9-2.23kg K2O/ha, 0.77-1.92kg SO3/ha, balanced with MgO and Mn.

These are just part of the bespoke foliar fertiliser range that Aiva produce and distribute in the UK. With the facility to produce multiple different recipes of nutrients to meet individual crop demands, the options are limitless. If you are looking for a specific grouping of nutrients to compliment your requirements, please get in touch.