How Kick-Off has sustainably improved John Stonehouse’s yields

December 19th 2023

Fielder Seed Treatments Case Study

Through his use of Kick-Off seed treatment, John Stonehouse has been able to boost his yields for the last three years, whilst reducing his cultivation and input costs.

Yield improvement of 8.7% using Kick-Off

Finding the right product for challenging conditions

Based in North Yorkshire, John Stonehouse was struggling to find a product that significantly improved his yields, whilst also fitting into his approach to grow cereals more sustainably. That was until he used Fielder’s Kick-Off, which in the first year doubled his spring barley yield.

John farms a 360 acre mixed arable and beef farm near Scarborough, North Yorkshire. He has to contend with many challenges on the farm such as water-logged soils, droughts, unpredictable coastal weather, different soil types, as well as time pressures. That is why he turned his focus to try and find a product that maximises yields, improves his sustainability aspirations for the farm, as well as helps save him time. As he looked “at different approaches to see what will work best”, John tested Fielder’s Kick-Off on a small 9ha plot of spring barley initially and was delighted with the results he saw.

Benefits John has seen from using Kick-Off

    • Significant yield improvements

    • Cost savings and reduces his environmental impact

    • Boosts rooting and establishment with increased crop resilience

    • Easy to use on winter and spring crops and safe on the seed

    • Key part of his low input strategy

“There was no doubting the benefit” – Kick-Off has improved John’s yields for three years in a row

John has no doubts of the benefits of Kick-Off

On that first spring barley trial in 2021, Kick-Off returned 5t/ha, compared to a basic manganese seed dressing that delivered 2.5t/ha. John says, “the real evidence came when we saw the grain yields from the different strips…there was no doubting the benefit of Kick-Off” on improving John’s yields.

Following this small-scale trial, he replicated it again the year after, this time on a larger scale over 50 ha in 2022 on winter barley. Once again John saw an impressive yield improvement of +8.7% vs his crop that only got manganese.

This was backed up for a third time in 2023 with yields enhanced by +4.2% vs untreated seed. John is adamant that that “the deeper and stronger rooting we get from Kick-Off helps sets the plant up for the best possible chance to have a great yield.”

John’s results are not an outlier. In independent trials work over the past three years Kick-Off has demonstrated yield increases on average of +6%. This provides a phenomenal return on investment, as for every £1 spent by a farmer on Kick-Off, they receive £11 back (based on Dec ’23 prices).

Kick-Off boosts roots development and germination speed

The inclusion of phosphite in Kick-Off has well-known benefits in promoting root growth. John saw this for himself over the past three years saying, “whilst there was little variation to see above-ground, when we dug up some plants we saw that the root development in the Kick-Off treated crops was way ahead of anything else.” Kick-Off is well known for its benefits on rooting, with another big advocate being Alexander Harley Seeds, based in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Alexander Harley Seeds MD Douglas Gordon states, “there is no doubt in my mind that the contrast in performance is a result of the superior root development promoted by the Kick-Off seed treatment.”

John and his drill in the snow on his farm in North Yorkshire

Giving the plant the best possible start is well-known to maximise its yield and quality potential. So John was delighted to note “there were very visible differences at germination, with the Kick-Off treated crop significantly more advanced.” Poor and slow germination can lead to problems later in the plant’s life, so Kick-Off helps set up the plant for the best chance of success right from the beginning.

As seen from the photos below in the 2023 trials, Kick-Off treated crops on John’s farm showed a visible and clear improvement on their root length and complexity when compared to an untreated crop, as well as two other competitor seed treatments. This deeper rooting promotes a stronger plant better able to access nutrients and water and gives it the best chance to maximise yields.

Seed trial results with Kick-Off


Reducing John’s inputs and costs, whilst saving him time

John has been on a journey to reduce his cultivation costs and minimise the number of passes he must make. Through using Kick-Off for the past three years he has “stopped using the power harrow, so we’re saving a lot on diesel and time.” In his eyes, the best way “to reduce risk is to find a way to boost root development.” By having Kick-Off on his seed John has successfully changed the way he cultivates, providing him ease of mind and saving him time and money.

John believes there may be more scope to the benefits from Kick-Off and is keen to trial them on farm in a way to reduce his costs and environmental impact. “Given the benefits we are seeing in terms of earlier and healthier root development, I think there may be scope to reduce our fungicide programme.”

John with Kick-Off treated seed

How Kick-Off works

The ambition at Fielder is to bring the latest innovations in crop nutrition and plant health into the product portfolio. Kick-Off has been specially formulated to have a perfect balance of phosphites, manganese, amino acids, as well a further 5 key nutrients including zinc and potassium. Phosphites are excellent for promoting root growth and N assimilation, whilst encouraging root interaction with beneficial soil microbes and fungi, improving nutrient and water uptake. The inclusion of manganese aids establishment and reduces the need for a foliar spray in troublesome ground conditions. The high rate of biostimulant amino acids in Kick-Off helps the crop endure stresses such as water-logged or cold soils and boosts crop development.


Kick-Off provides ease of mind

As well as the yield benefits on John Stonehouse’s farm and in independent trials, Kick-Off provides a very inexpensive insurance policy and reassures growers that use it. On average, a winter wheat crop only requires the yield to increase by 0.06% to return a profit after using Kick-Off. And using a seed treatment gives you confidence that no matter the conditions your seed will have the best possible start once in the ground. The below photo shows a Kick-Off treated spring barley plant compared to an untreated plant, with the root lengths being clearly enhanced when using Kick-Off.

spring barley with kick-off seed treatment


John’s approach going forward

After the success of Kick-Off over the past 3 years, John remains thrilled it and uses it on all of his winter and spring seed on the farm, “hopefully translating into better overall yields”. He is currently trialling a range of new bacillus and nutrient seed treatments from Fielder, with yields to be taken in the summer of 2024. He is open to trying new things but acknowledges “it will be some development if it can replace Kick-Off as part of my routine programme!”



    • Kick-Off is the seed that has enhanced yields +6% in independent trials

    • Every £1 spent by a farmer returned them £11 back

    • Only needs yield to improve by 0.06t/ha to pay back

    • Improves rooting and establishment

    • Biostimulant amino acids for a healthier plant

If you are interested in Kick-Off please reach out to Robert directly at and +447912868389, or get in touch with your seed rep.

You can find out more about Kick-Off in the link below