New online crop management system trialled by Moray farm

Article taken from The Press and Journal, written by Gemma Mackenzie

 

A new online grower hub could revolutionise the way farmers manage and treat their crops, according to a leading agronomy firm.
Agrovista claims its online hub, which is being launched at the Cereals 2014 event in Cambridgeshire next month, brings together all the data a farmer uses in the day-to-day planning and management of crops in one easy place for the first time ever.

 

“Growers are presented with an increased amount of information and we want to help them run their businesses more efficiently,” said the firm’s head of precision services, Lewis McKerrow.

 

“The biggest complaint with computer systems is that all the data is fragmented. We are trying to address that with one system and make sure we are not double and triple handling data.”

 

He said the new Axis system – short for the Agrovista Exchange Information System – has been trialled by a number of growers across the country including Iain Green, of Corskie in Moray.

 

Mr McKerrow said the system sets out to fulfil three main functions – a source of agri-business information, a field recording package and a precision mapping package. As such, the firm is launching the system in three tiers with the option to use each separately or together.

 

The first tier – Axis Info – is free of charge and provides a host of agri-business information including basic weather forecasts, information on regulations, variety and chemical fact sheets, fertiliser market updates and technical bulletins from agronomists.

 

The second tier – Axis Field Pro – will come at a cost and be available as an iPad app.
It features the Greenlight Grower Management field recording package to house seed, fertiliser, spraying and machinery records.

 

Mr McKerrow said the system is accessible by all parties involved in the growing process – farmer, agronomist, contractor and operator – providing a platform to share data in real time.

 

He said the iPad app, which has the capability to work offline and then upload information to the online hub once it has internet access, allows on-field recording.
 
Mr Green said this is where he can see real benefit on the farm - at present spray recommendations are sent from the agronomist to the farm office, then to the contractor who then completes a form and returns it to the office for it to then be recorded.

 

He farms a 3,000-acre mixed arable and livestock enterprise,and a haulage company with his parents, Jimmy and Nan.
 
The family runs the Corksie herd of pedigree Simmentals, a 500-ewe sheep enterprise and 380-sow indoor pig business.
 
Cropping comprises 178 acres of winter barley for pig feed, 1,036 acres of spring barley for malting, 285 acres of winter wheat for distilling and feed, and 25 acres of spring oats.

The third tier of the Axis system – Axis MapIT Pro – also comes at a cost and is available as an iPhone and iPad app.

 

Mr McKerrow said the Google-based mapping system provides information on fields and crops at a basic level, and allows farmers to walk a field of crops and drop a pointer onto the map to identify any problem areas.

 

In future, the firm hopes to use GPS data to incorporate yield, sensor and application maps into the app to help growers out in the field.

This, said Mr McKerrow, will also help when building variable rate plans for seed, fertiliser and chemicals.
Prices for the systems are yet to be finalised but Agrovista said they will be sold in three price bands based on farm size–upto 500 hectares (ha), 500-1,000ha and anything bigger than 1,000ha.

 

Mr McKerrow said it was likely a farm smaller than 500ha in size would pay between £300 and £400 a year for the system – it will be sold based on an annual subscription to the service.
The New AXIS System
 

 

14 May 2014

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