A new variable seed rate system to help growers achieve more uniform crops was launched by precision farming firm SOYL.

SOYLseed starts with a field survey using an electrical conductivity meter passing in 24m swaths.

The resulting map is then used to help create zones which could merit different seed rates, explained the firm’s Simon Griffin.

“We use our experienced soil scientists to ‘ground-truth’ the zones.” That involves assessing each one for texture, stone content, depth to subsoil and compaction, he explained.

The system, trialled for two seasons, offers more even crop canopies, less lodging and disease and so savings on growth regulators and fungicides. There are also potential seed cost savings.

To arrive at appropriate seed rates each zone is judged for seed-bed quality and potential over-winter plant losses. A final variable seed rate map is then created which incorporates a default set by date and thousand grain weight.

This is converted to a digital file compatible with the many popular GPS systems that have seed drill compatibility, explained Mr Griffin.

The initial conductivity survey and ground-truthing, plus the first year’s seeding recommendations cost £15/ha. “Of course, that’s really a one-off as soils don’t change much.” Thereafter the annual charge for seed rate advice is £1/ha.