Agrovista’s integrated precision agronomy platform

Article taken from the ATN

National agronomy services business Agrovista has grouped all its precision agriculture activities under the Plantsystems banner, and will have an integrated platform ready to launch at next month’s Cereals event.

Agrovista acquired the Plantsystems crop weather data and technology specialist in 2012, and first announced its intention to group all its precision farming activities and field services within the Plantsystems brand at the LAMMA event earlier this year.  It is now closer to releasing the Axis platform, a new, cloud-based technical information hub that processes, links and stores agricultural data in a single place.

The company’s director of strategic development, Dr Tony John, said that the average UK wheat yield had reached a plateau of around 7.8 tonnes/ha over the last decade, despite an annual increase in genetic yield potential of at least 0.3-0.5t/ha.  While this was a multifactorial problem, with likely causes including higher temperatures at flowering and rising disease pressure, there was a clear gap between trial yields and average farm practice.

There is no magic bullet solution, he acknowledged, but a series of small incremental changes would help, delivered through knowledge transfer and better management.  Technologies would help apply inputs more precisely, both helping to reduce wastage and environmental impact while ensuring resources were used much more cost-effectively.

At the same time, farm managers are faced with large areas to cover with fewer staff, more complex equipment and increased regulatory restrictions which are reducing the active ingredients available.

Dr John believes the industry is on the cusp of a transformation, where the increasing amount of crop and equipment data available can be converted into useful advice and actions at the practical farm level.

Lewis McKerrow, Agrovista head of precision services, has spent the last 30 months overseeing the development of the Plantsystems’ Axis agronomy platform.  Axis has three key features – agricultural business information, field recording data and a precision mapping package.  By overlaying soil sampling data with fertiliser sensor information, combine yield maps and crop conductivity data, it is now possible to devise strategies to apply fertilisers, crop protection products and other agronomic aids more precisely, enhancing yield and reducing input costs.

The system dovetails with Muddy Boots’ Green light Grower Management field recording program, with an algorithm to crunch the data into effective priorities that can help a farm manager increase yield while reducing costs and environmental impact.  The use of online cloud technology means the data is both secure and can be shared with trusted partners off the unit such as agronomists and contractors, via a range of devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.  It could also be made available to crop buyers and processors as part of a traceability chain.

The system’s modular construction means it is infinitely scalable and adaptable.  It will be available with various levels of access, and on a subscription basis.  It is viewed as a single source of advice on everything from varieties to nozzle sizes, with regional differences and disease ratings build in, a database of pesticide labels and datasheets and supporting business information through Agrovista’s Agrogate consultancy to ensure environmental compliances.

“Multiple layers of data allow an understanding of underlying variabilities and an ability to address them in future,” concludes Dr John.  “It brings growers several steps closer to a fully integrated information library agronomy system.”


30 May 2014

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