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13 Oct 2022

Build farm profitability and sustainability by visiting Hutchinsons at CropTec

By Hutchinsons

Build farm profitability and sustainability by visiting Hutchinsons at CropTec

by Hutchinsons


To help growers meet the challenges of rising costs, changes to farm support, and increasingly extreme weather events, leading crop production firm Hutchinsons has been at the forefront of investing heavily in developing services and technologies that have been tested at a farm scale level across its national network of Helix farms.

Visitors to the Hutchinsons stand at Croptec will have the opportunity to find out how these services and technologies can help to build more resilient farming systems that harness natural processes and reduce the need for artificial inputs.

Have questions around Agroecology? Hutchinsons are leading the way in trialling and testing agroecological farming practices on a farm scale level through the Helix Agroecology farm. A year into the project, there are many learnings about how these may be adopted onto your farm in a practical but also profitable and sustainable way.

Need to know more about your soils? Soil health is widely recognised as a cornerstone of sustainable farming systems. However, it is key to understand your soil before making any significant structural or operational changes.

Hutchinsons soil scanning system, TerraMap provides the most accurate and repeatable soil mapping available. Now this can be aligned with the most comprehensive soil analysis to give an unrivalled soil nutritional and management service, TerraMap Gold.

How can your farm data be used more profitably?

The Omnia Digital Farming platform has continued to evolve and develop offering a range of innovative new developments using farm data, such as Cost of Production and Yield Performance mapping, Terramap, Carbon mapping, and E-Seed.

The most recent of these is the Business Performance planning module which uses this data to cost out a range of potential cropping and machinery scenarios in terms of both financial and CO2 equivalent performance.

Omnia also now provides a management platform to complete all of the SFI Soil standard requirements in a functional and easy way, allowing you to improve your soil health and gain your SFI Soils Standard payment.

To ensure it remains up-to-date as scheme requirements change, further updates are already planned to accommodate the wider release of other SFI measures in the future, such as the Advanced Standard due in 2024.

In the field

Essex farmer David Lord agrees black-grass control has stabilised, but he is on guard against complacency.

The changes we made quite a few years ago have reduced the peaks; we dont get the build up of really high populations mainly because of spring cropping.

We still have persistent populations across the farm, but it is manageable, he says.

He thinks finding spring crops which suit the system is essential for durable black grass control.

Spring oats have been the most important, however, Mr Lord thinks there is a slight uptick in the amount of black-grass he sees.

We drill in early- to mid-April, but some black-grass comes up even after this.

I wonder if we are selecting for spring germination because blackgrass finds a way?


If spring germination becomes more of a problem, he will consider stewardship options to take the worst land out of the rotation.

He recently cut a crop of canary seed.

It is drilled late and is quite competitive, so it seems to be a good additional spring crop option, he says.

Adopting a regenerative approach is an important part of staying in control.

We use cover crops and reduced tillage to improve soils, they are healthy and resilient and able to cope well with a bit of adversity, adds Mr Lord.

Winter wheat is typically grown one year in three in the rotation.

Delayed drilling and pre-emergence herbicides are vital here, but the system overall does not put too much pressure on chemistry.

We are not using huge stacks, but they bring a huge amount of control, we can see that with the occasional spray miss.

But Mr Lords experience suggests black-grass will not ever be straightforward to control.

The reasons it became such a problem have not changed: it is still competitive in winter wheat, produces lots of seed and is quite often resistant to post-emergence chemistry.


Against that are the facts that earlier drilling and second wheats are both tempting options for farmers looking to maximise profitability but choosing low-risk, low weed population fields is essential.

Research and anecdotal evidence suggest farmers have found ways to manage black-grass, but the changes to rotation and agronomy required are here to stay.

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