Turning field data into usuable information

Part article taken from the CPM, written by Andrew Watts

Precision Services

Most recently Agrovista unveiled Axis, its cloud-based platform that’ll centralise and store the information it provides to growers through Plantsystems, it s precision services division.  The system

-          To be officially launched at Cereals
-          Will serve as a single platform for everything from field maps to weather reports and, it’s claimed, will ease the administrative burden by wirelessly synchronising field records between devices as operations are carried out.

“Axis provides a single location for storing field records with precision mapping and farm business information while seamlessly updating field records from the machine as operations are carried out.  By combining historical information, such as soil maps, with live data from weather stations and soil-moisture probes we can also make more targeted use of inputs,” says Agrovista’s head of precision services, Lewis McKerrow.

“At its heart is the next generation of crop management software from MuddyBoots called Greenlight Grower Management – the successor to CropWalker – a sophisticated mapping system from Precision Decisions and accurate weather forecasts from Forecast Xtra.  Alongsire this will be soil moisture data from our own in-field probes and that will allow more targeted use of water and other inputs,” he adds.

Agrovista is not alone…

Axis uses a subscription-based model split three ways and it’s for the grower to decided which level of service best meets their needs.

“The basic level holds the customers agronomy information and is free while Axis Field Pro (level 2) offers crop recording and Axis MapIT Pro (level 3) incorporates mapping to keep all farm maps and precision data together,” says Lewis McKerrow.

Crop recording

… But while these systems are clearly intended to fulfil a need, they’re also part of a longer term plan to deliver agronomy solutions in a market with fewer plant protection products and, potentially, fewer agronomists.

“It’s not difficult to imagine an environment with fewer agronomists,” says Dr Tony John of Agrovista.

“But the job is changing too – we have to identify ways that help us make the most of a declining armoury of products and a tighter regulatory framework to maintain productivity,” he says.

“In agriculture, we mark progress in incremental gains, but making them is difficult.  We exist in an information vacuum, and how we analyse and interpret the data growers generate will drive progress on farm and help fill this vacuum,” he adds. …

Natural capacity

… Think of yield maps as the first step towards making better decisions on farm, says Tony John.  “On their own, they didn’t tell us much.  Overlay them with pH maps, and they tell us a bit more, introduce soil conductivity maps and they begin to tell us a whole lot more.  Getting the most from the data involves seeing it in the round.

“We can write algorithms that analyse the data, but it takes an experienced individual to interpret it and this person has to work with the grower to deliver a programme that addresses the issues while raising average performance.  This’ll be the role of the agronomist in the future and Axis is the portal that allows us to do that,” he says…..

Tony John says these systems will also come to be relied on to help make day-to-day decisions as well as the more comprehensive crop management plans.

“Imagine in 5, 10 or 15 year’s time, we operate in an environment where none of the available chemistry has curative activity against Septoria trictici – this isn’t hard to imagine.

“In such a scenario growers will need to prioritise workload based on which crops in which fields are most vulnerable.  Through Axis we’ll be able to analyse the data built up over the years and then consider it against what we know about a variety’s susceptibility, its growth rate and the disease pressure facing each field.  We can ten produce a work plant that can be used to determine the order in which the farm’s wheat area should be treated,” he says. …


26 May 2014

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