Very few studies have been conducted to show the impact of environmental conditions on crop performance. The ASSIST (Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems) programme is aiming to do just that and is using the new Agrimetrics Data Combine benchmarking tool to capture farm yield data from participating farmers.
Professor Richard Pywell of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is ASSIST Programme co-leader. He explains that ASSIST is working with farmers to analyse large volumes of crop yield data to determine how factors such as soil, climate, landscape and management affect yield performance over time.
“In doing this we want to provide farmers with an easy way of benchmarking their yield against identical crop varieties grown under similar environmental condition. This will help us understand and ultimately overcome the factors holding back crop yields.”
“This multifaceted study will provide unique insights into what management practices work best on UK farms. As the data builds up it will be possible for farmers to compare their crop performance with that grown under similar conditions and identify which innovations and strategies will be most beneficial.”
Currently the ASSIST programme has been granted access to yield data for over 2,000 fields across the UK and is currently analysing very detailed precision yield data for a further 800 fields. To handle the large volumes of data involved ASSIST has developed new automated ways of rapidly cleaning and analysing yield data. The team are keen to encourage more farmers to get involved.
Eleanor Kay, Knowledge Exchange Manager for Rothamsted Research, one of the partners on the programme, comments: “We want to make it as easy as possible for farmers to input their data so Data Combine is ideal for that, as it can run on the office computer and information from other packages such as Gatekeeper and Muddy Boots can be copied across. The more information that is put in the more value those participants will get back.”
“We hope that being at Cereals to talk about ASSIST and giving people an opportunity to see how easy Data Combine is to use will encourage more farmers to get involved.”