Some of the most significant advances in agronomy available to UK farmers will be on display at Agrovista’s stand at Cereals 2017, where visitors will be able to quiz experts on how these novel technologies can benefit their businesses.
Among these is a recently launched commercial drone service, developed by Plantsystems, Agrovista’s precision services arm.
This service offers flight packages carried out by the company’s fully-approved unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operators, or a processing service for farmers who have their own drones.
“The development of drone technology is providing real potential for using relatively simple hobby tools for more complex agronomy tasks,” says Lewis McKerrow, Agrovista’s head of precision technology.
Research by the company has shown that higher-specification hobby drones costing around £1200-1800 fitted with a good-quality standard visual camera can do most of the tasks carried out by professional drones costing several times as much.
“Good hobby drones are fine for identifying most parameters of field performance,” says Mr McKerrow. “You need something with a reasonable flight time of 15 minutes or more, even when it’s a bit windy.
“The drone should also carry a camera that can provide 3.5cm resolution at 120m flying height, allowing you to create maps showing establishment, biomass, weeds and disease and to carry out plant counts.”
Agrovista uses its MapIT Pro software to process data captured by the drone from several passes during the season to create field maps. These can be used for variable rate drilling and nitrogen application, and even patch spraying weeds with high resolution accuracy.
Flight and data processing charges vary according to location and job size, typically costing £3-4/ha. Drone operators who only require the data processing service will pay around 50p/ha per zone map and £1/ha for a zone and rate map.
Agrovista experts will be on hand during Cereals to explain more about the service and to advise visitors on which drone would be best for their situation.
* Visitors will be able to see a range of other key agronomy developments on the Agrovista’s stand, including the PotatoSize App developed by the James Hutton Institute and Agrovista.
This tool uses cutting-edge automated analysis of pictures of tuber samples from test digs taken by growers on their tablet or smartphone, replacing laborious riddling and grading of tubers through multiple sieves.
The app provides accurate results within minutes, enabling growers to manage burn down/haulm destruction strategies to optimise tuber size, ensuring crops meet market requirements and so maximise profits.
The latest version of Agrovista’s cloud-based technical information exchange system Axis will be on show. This allows agronomy and precision-farming data to be uploaded and shared in real time with advisers, agronomists, operators and contractors, providing true flexibility and efficiency to a farming business.
In addition, visitors can also update on Agrovista’s extensive range of trials assessing the value of cover crops and companion crops in arable rotations, including their role in boosting crop and soil heath and controlling herbicide-resistant grassweeds.
Agrovista is exhibiting on stand 333 at Cereals 2017.