Online hub for growers aims to beat crop yield plateau

Article taken from Farm Business magazine, written by Chris Lyddon
Uniting precision farming techniques with specialist weather service is the rationale behind Agrovista’s new service for growers, as Chris Lyddon reports.
There’s more and more technology available to collect information for growers and agronomists, but, too often, it’s impossible to make the best use of it. Agrovista, under its Plantsystems brand, has come up with a new online grower hub, called Axis (home screen pictured right), that joins up the technology to help beat the yield plateau in arable farming
At a briefing to launch the system at the Thelveton estate in Nor folk recently, Lewis McKerrow Agrovista’s head of precision services, explained where Axis fits in with Agrovista’s services
“We’ve always been involved in precision farming. We’ve also been involved in specialist weather services. It was a good time to bring that under one banner.
“We start with the basic soil analysis. If we can pinpoint known areas of variation, we can target those areas.”
Conductivity analysis gives more detail of soil types and that can be turned into a clear map. “We can start to look at variable seed rates etc,” he explained.
Mr McKerrow also stressed how' much more could be done with sensor technology “These sensors have a lot more applications we want to make the best use of. Biomass scans very closely relate to what the final yield of the crop is. We can use that information effectively to give us a prediction of tonnes per hectare.
“You can use these maps to develop a growth regulator plan.”
Plantsystems offers weather stations and soil moisture stations as well as weather and spraying conditions forecasts, which allows great accuracy with water use.
The Axis system, which will be launched at Cereals, has three key functions: agribusiness information, a field recording package and a precision mapping package. We can have the Greenlight grower management package from Muddy Boots Mr McKerrow said.


There will be a number of subscription options.
The basic package, Axis info, gives growers access to useful information in one place. “If they’re looking at field pathology we can give them Axis Field Pro.”  That includes a crop recording package with an iPad app.
Then there is MapIT Pro, with farm mapping to keep farm maps and precision data together
The basic system is free to register and offers online access to agronomists’ recommendation sheets. It has mapping of field boundaries and cropping. There is an Agrogate section that covers such things as compliance, nitrate vulnerable zones and renewables. It includes information on varieties, labels and data sheets, fertiliser market updates and a chemical store list. There is also a file store in which growers can view documents uploaded by the agronomist and the facility to view Agrovista account information.
Axis Field Pro includes Green light Grower Management, with a field recording package and a seven-day Plantsystems weather forecast, along with a technical library and 1GB of ‘cloud’ storage.
“That next generation recording package, cloud-based, gives us more flexibility with the sharing parties,” Mr McKerrow said. Where the system really moves things forward is the actual data sharing part of it. As soon as one person puts that data in, the rest of the people collaborating on that system have access to it.”
MapIT Pro adds a Google-based farm mapping system. “This really brings the precision farming element into Axis. Basically there are farm maps in your pocket.”
The grower gets to save time, with the double handling of data. -“One of the biggest complaints is that the data is fragmented. The amount of combine yield data that’s sitting on memory cards and is never transferred is amazing.
“What we’ve tried to do is save hours looking for information,” he said. He put a value of 10 days saved on record keeping, for example, at £820 saved.
“As we build up a number of years’ data, all that information there waiting to be used."
Mr McKerrow produced an example showing increasing yield using growth regulators to push a high potential areas harder and go easier on stressed or low potential areas.
“You don’t need big gains to make a difference on the bottom line” he said.


12 May 2014

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