In the clouds with Agrovista

Article taken from the Farm Contractor & Large Scale Farmer, written by John Swire

“With the growing adoption of decision support and precision farming systems, the information being generated by farmers in growing exponentially,” explains Lewis McKerrow, Agrovista’s precision technology manager.  “For some time there has been an increasing onus for the industry to find a way of streamlining our record keeping processes and data flow.”

Axis is a new cloud-based agronomy tool, developed by Agrovista and several partner companies including Muddy Boots, which is able to put an end to the disparate farm data sources currently available to growers.  Agrovista sees the new Axis system offering a leap ahead for collating multiple data sources onto one easy-access platform.

“Our intention was always to make the system cloud-based so that farmers could access and add to their information via multiple platforms, including smartphones, satellite-mapping equipment and their PCs,” added Lewis.

“Hosting the information in the cloud also means that farmers can give their advisors access to their account for the two-way exchange of information and advice."

Axis Field Pro is integrated with Muddy Boots’ Greenlight Grower Management system and will incorporate its online crop management system, field recording and data sharing.

“What makes Axis invaluable as a business tool is the system’s ability to exchange information between devices, people and software systems.  “Over the coming years we will continue to develop Axis to allow farmers and advisors to integrate all of their devices, systems and advisory information into the Axis cloud.”

Cloud technologies have been growing in prominence and importance within the wider business community for real-time storage, file-sharing and web-based communications.  Lewis McKerrow says that it makes perfect sense for farming to harness the power of the cloud.

“Axis will target a common frustration amongst growers – the paperwork and record-keeping associated with compliance,” he points out.  “Whilst we have been well aware of the efficiency benefits of using precision farming, we have missed one crucial element – integrating their use with the all-important recording – and reminding – of key dates and times for the field task.  This management element is lacking in many of the simple systems farmers are using.”

“Axis will be a useful tool for coordinating these types of disparate – but valuable – data sources and will help in the production of complete and accurate records.  Within the next few years we will find that live data connections between tractor and office will be commonplace.  Farmers will be able to send prescription plans like spray recommendations in real-time to both the operator and the machinery and will receive the completed data back all as one complete streamlined affair.  This type of full farm operation integration is very much the focus of the Axis vision.”

He suggests that Axis will be very practical to use and with an intuitive App style access screen.  “I*t will include a host of really practical management aids like yield and soil mapping, compliance data alerts, technical agronomic updates, 7-day weather forecasts, spray-window forecasts and variety information.”

Axis has been actively trialled by a group of Agrovista growers who have provided very positive feedback and have recommended some useful tweaks ahead of this summer’s launch.

Lewis pointed out that Axis will come in three package options, the first being free to register for: Axis Info, is free to register for and includes recommendations from Muddy Boots, 3-day weather forecasts, variety information, product labels and data sheets, basic mapping package, weekly fertiliser market update and a diary of compliance dates.

Secondly there is Field Pro which adds Greenlight Grower Management (GLCM) and GLGM iPad app, 7-day detailed Plantsystems weather sections, including spray window wind chart, technical agronomic updates and up-to-date trials data.

Finally the MapIT Pro adds a fully functional Google based precision farming mapping package, including yield map upload, sensor mapping, zone maps and variable rate plan creation.  The MapIT Pro also works with the MapIT Pro iPhone/iPad app to use out in the field.

There is also a MapIT app which gives you farm maps in your pocket which, can be synchronised with Axis MapIT Pro to keep all farm maps on a mobile device.  The whole farm or individual fields can be viewed with this app.  This will allow the spray operator to check the needs of each field and record the work as done immediately after folding the booms and leaving the field.  Scout GPS points such as weeds, pests, diseases or other areas such as manure heaps or drains can also be marked on map.  The inbuilt GPS and compass in the device can navigate you back to these points at a later date.  Finally new fields can be created within the app and given a boundary which is then immediately uploaded to Axis.

Lewis also said the system is entirely flexible in that it can be controlled from the farm office and the flow of information can be controlled to ensure it only goes to the correct recipients.

Dr Tony John, Agrovista director of strategic development, said that this is not the end of the development of Axis.  “Axis is future proofed with a capability to incorporate current and future technologies.  The ever decreasing armoury of crop protection chemicals available in Europe means that the current chemistry is becoming less effective.  Consequently, crop production will require a whole new approach to maintain and increase yields.  This means that we must combine previous technology with disease modelling, plant growth stage predictions and drone imagery.  This will allow effective advice on priority fields for application to ensure the optimum results from the chemistry available.


02 June 2014

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