UK: Growers missing out on increased yields that precision farming offers

Growers could be missing out on increased crop yields and improved soil quality if they overlook adopting the latest precision farming techniques. A three year AHDB project, which is now in its final year, has so far revealed UK growers could be benefiting from controlled traffic farming (CTF) techniques, resulting in better soil quality and increased yields. Part of the study assesses the use of CTF in horticulture to reduce field area wheeled by machinery in order to develop soil structure and lead to less energy intensive cultivations. Dr Paul Newell Price, RSK ADAS, said: “Controlled traffic systems can improve the efficiency and profitability of horticultural production by increasing opportunities to access the land, reducing input costs and evening up yields across each planted area.” 

The project aims to conduct research into the use of precision techniques to improve productivity, including soil mapping, canopy sensing and controlled traffic farming.

Dr Lizzie Sagoo, RSK ADAS, said: “There are a range of precision farming technologies available to growers which measure variability in soils and crops, from satellite crop sensing and tractor mounted crop sensors to yield mapping and soil EC scanners. This project is demonstrating these technologies on commercial farms to help growers decide which offer the greatest potential to improve the profitability of their business

As part of the project, a number of field demonstrations are available to anyone wishing to discover more about the techniques being studied and their potential uses and benefits.

Field Demonstration sites

Upcoming demonstrations include:

  1. Measuring soil and crop variability – G’s Growers, Cambs
  2. Canopy sensing for variable rate N applications to a Brussels Sprout crop – Park Farm, Risby, East Yorks
  3. Smart soil management – Wyevale nurseries, Hereford

Want to learn more?

NIAB Leafy Salads Open Day

Date: 22 June 2017

Location: G’s Fresh, Redmere Drove, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4SS

As part of the NIAB Leafy salads open day hosted by G’s, ADAS Soil Scientists will be discussing outputs from the AHDB Precision Farming project. Lizzie Sagoo will be looking at how we can use precision farming tools such as soil EC scanning and crop sensing to measure and manage variability in soils and crops. In the afternoon, there will be a soil pit in the field and Paul Newell Price will host a discussion on how we can improve assessment and management of soil structure.

For more information and latest events visit: https://horticulture.ahdb.org.uk/greatsoils