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13 July 2018 10:01:09 |Machinery and Equipment,News,Products

UK is ahead in precision farming compared to its neighbours, farmers say

UK farmers are at the forefront of precision farming

UK farmers are at the forefront of precision farming

British farmers went on a two-day study tour to Sweden and found that the UK is ahead of the game when it comes to precision farming.
Seven arable farmers from across the UK attended Sweden’s prestigious cereals conference and agricultural show, Borgeby Faltdagar.
The farmers attended the event in order to ascertain what they could learn from Scandinavian farming practices – and the results weren’t quite what they expected.
They released that the British farming industry is actually further ahead in the use of precision technology than some of of the UK's neighbours.
However, the British attendees were in particular interested in the attitude of a Dutch potato farmer, Jacob van den Borne.
He outlined his 14-step approach to precision farming, from mapping fields and soil scanning, to crop protection, variable rate fertilising and using drones to thermal image crops.

Mr van den Borne, who farms 600 ha of potatoes as well as 300 ha maize, believes that success in precision farming is 90 percent due to having the discipline to use the tech methodically, while just 10 percent is down to having the necessary kit.
When he started with precision farming 10 years ago, he found that the average overlap on his fields was 13 percent. This was due their small size (on average 3 ha) and their odd shapes (most of the fields have six corners).
However, after investing 500,000 Euros in new kit, Mr van den Borne was able to reduce that overlap to just 2 percent, decreasing his inputs and costs, and enabling him to pay back his investment in just three years.
'Real difference'
For Aberdeenshire-based farmer Peter Chapman, the Dutch farmer's approach to precision is spot on.
“Jacob focused on areas where he could make a real difference and I think that’s what I have taken home from our tour,” Mr Chapman said.
“I want to pay more attention to my yield maps and use them, along with electromagnetic soil scanning, to produce a map of our soil potential.

“Then we can decide whether we should try and lift those consistently poorly performing areas, or whether we should consider putting them to another use entirely and focus our efforts on those better performing areas where we can make genuine improvements,” he added.
There was also some new technology at the show which stimulated discussion. One was the System Cameleon, a seed drill and inter row hoe, which can not only weed between rows after it drills, but also plant a second crop in between.
There was also a fair bit of interest in BoMill, a recently launched grain sorter which can analyse individual grain kernels in terms of size, weight and quality.
For Highland Grain Chair, Black Isle farmer Donald Ross, the machine could – if scaled up – be very helpful for getting the best quality barley for the distilling industry.
He said: “The machine could potentially be calibrated to measure each individual grain for nitrogen content, which means we could filter grain in terms of quality for distilling which at the moment is far harder to judge.”


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