Amazone Arable field Oilseed rape Farm Management John_Deere Cultivator Arable farming image_10 moleing image_22 image_24 image_26

All of Armston Farm's arable hectares are cropped under a reduced tillage programme improving our seedbeds, soil structure and therefore increasing our yields. A keen eye on soil structure has been imperative under a reduced tillage programme and regular inspection holes are dug across the farm. The heaviest machinery are all fitted with tracks, rather than tyres, reducing the level of compaction in the top layer of soil. We have found that tracks leave a flat profile wheeling that is easy to remove, whilst a tyre leaves a deeper narrow rut that takes more to get out

Precision Farming and Technology

Sprays and fertilisers applied to the farm are only applied when necessary, through careful analysis of soil samples, tissue tests and thresholds. We are using technological advances in precision farming to enhance and refine our yields and profitability.

Variable Seed rates

Establishing a plant population that is too high can lead to overly thick canopies, increased lodging, higher disease pressure and unnecessary expenditure on seed. Seed rates that are too low will result in lower yields and higher weed pressure. Getting the right plant numbers starts with the correct seed rate. A survey of the soil's physical properties is undertaken. This starts with a detailed electrical conductivity survey. Conductivity has a correlation with clay content, soil depth, stoniness and moisture content. All of these factors are important in seed bed creation. The conductivity map is used as the basis for undertaking a physical soil survey. Areas of similar conductivity values are zoned and then ground-truthed by an experienced soil scientist (see map left). Each zone is assessed for texture, stone content, soil depth to subsoil and compaction. This allows the creation of potential seed rate zones. An area of high clay content or high stone content may have high plant losses and therefore a higher seed rate is required to compensate for this. The difference in potential establishment can be used to vary the seed rate around the default rate which is controlled by drilling date and thousand grain weight.

Variable Rate Fertiliser

Satellite images are taken through the season to provide an infra-red image. We then produce a map showing the leaf area index of the crop, and match this with the growth stages, which are being checked by a team on the ground. In conjunction with drilling dates and variety, we can then make an application map, targeting rates within the field. This is done for every application and we can assess the crop’s response. A thin patch might get more N in the first application and if it gives no response, it might get less or more in the second.

Auto Steering Guidance

We use a satellite guided steering system on our machinery to improve efficiencies on our farm. Precise satellite guided steering reduces wearing parts, reduces fuel usage, gives labour savings and helps to reduce driver fatigue.

Yield Mapping

Our Claas Combine monitors the yields, producing yield maps with three colours – loss, break-even and profit. We make a real time map that shows what parts of the farm are making or breaking you. What grower would not want that?

Banding Liquid Fertiliser

We drill our OSR behind a Sub-Soiler fitted with low disturbance tines to keep the soil surface level, achieving little moisture loss and maintaining a structured sub-soil. Crops require both Nitrogen and Phosphate at establishment and we are therefore banding liquid fertilizer close to the seed behind each leg, aiming to utilize the phosphate and Nitrogen more efficiently. Phosphate improves rooting, hopefully leading to a greater root mass capable of extracting more nutrients and moisture from the soil.

Spray Height Control System NORAC UC+

A Norac self-leveling system is fitted to our Bateman sprayer that uses ultrasonic sensors to automatically level the boom keeping a specified boom height above the crop. The spray operator is assured that all chemicals are applied as accurately as possible, reducing drift and crop scorch. Research at Silsoe University has shown that doubling the wind speed conditions produces double the amount of drift. However, if you double your boom height to say 100cm above the crop, you get 10 times the amount of drift as the spray droplet atomizes.