10 online tests to help make you a better farmer

One thing that all farmers will be looking at in 2015 is how to cut costs out of their business. A quick and easy way to get started is to get some expert advice on how you can do that.

Here are the top 10 most popular tests of all time on the Farmers Weekly Academy that other farmers have taken to improve their business.

1. Oilseed rape canopy management:

Looks can be deceiving. A thick-looking crop with plenty of leaves may seem like a good thing coming out of winter, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Dr Pete Berry of Adas explains how you can avoid disappointing yields come harvest.

2. Nitrogen management:

Working out how much nitrogen fertiliser you need to supplement the existing nutrient balance of your soil is tricky, but vital to achieving a decent margin on your crop as well as complying with regulation. Dr Keith Goulding of Rothamsted Research explains how to do it.

3. Calf pneumonia:

This respiratory disease is estimated to cost UK beef and dairy farmers £80m a year. In our damp climate it’s a disease many farmers struggle to stay on top of. George Caldow, a senior vet at SAC Consulting explains how to prevent it.

4. Oilseed rape establishment:

The  most important day in a crop’s life is the day of drilling. Dr Pete Berry of Adas explains the pros and cons of different establishment methods and why you need to be flexible depending on the conditions.

5. Combine efficiency:

With our increasingly unpredictable weather it’s important that your harvest workhorse is in good shape when you’ve got the weather window. Edward Miller of Claas explains how to set up and operate a combine to the optimum level.

6. Infectious diseases:

Disease pressure can be a serious drain on profitability for beef and dairy farmers and this year keeping costs to a minimum will be paramount. Keith Cutler of Endell Vets explains how you can maintain a disease-free herd.

7. Yellow rust:

With apocalyptic levels of yellow rust in some parts of the country, 2014 was a growing season many arable farmers would rather forget. Bill Clark of NIAB explains how the fungus spreads and what you can do about it.

8. Succession planning:

It is in every farming family’s interest to have a smooth succession of the business from one generation to the next. Matt Lobley from Exeter University explains the key things any succession plan should address.

9. Fungicide programme for barley:

Barley is no longer the Cinderella crop of UK cropping that it once was. With high-yielding responsive varieties it’s now a profitable part of many arable rotations. Simon Oxley of the HGCA explains why it’s worth treating this crop like royalty.

10. Grassland weed control:

Can’t see the grass for the weeds? Last but by no means least is Mark Ballingall, a senior Weeds Consultant at the Scotland’s Rural College, who explains how you can ensure your grazing is offering peak nutritional value to livestock.

The Farmers Weekly Academy is a free  online learning service offering expert advice on a range of topics from reducing disease pressure in your flock or optimising nitrogen applications to improving the efficiency of your combine and the best agronomy advice for your OSR crop.

More than 5,000 people are registered with the Farmers Weekly Academy which offers detailed advice on a range of subjects to help build your expertise and combat timely issues on the farm.

Register today and receive the latest advice from the Farmers Weekly Academy direct to your inbox.

Register for free at www.fwi.co.uk/academy

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