A drone hovers in the air© Tim Scrivener

Angus-based precision farming experts Soil Essentials have launched an online precision farming platform aimed at independent agronomists and farm businesses.

The new Kore software is the fruit of a three-year project supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and collaboration with Deimos Space UK, the British arm of Spanish remote sensing experts Elecnor Diemos.

The cloud-based app allows users to incorporate satellite and drone imagery data with existing on-farm information such as soil type, yield maps and historic weather data to aid and improve crop management.

See also: Early success for blight-resistant GM potato trial

While other similar options are available, Soil Essentials managing director Jim Wilson told Farmers Weekly at British Potatoes that Kore’s unique selling point is it is completely bespoke to the individual needs of customers.

Soil testing

An example is the spatial frequency in soil testing protocols, which can vary from business to business. With Kore, any such methodology can be programmed into its data-analysing modules by the company’s developers. 

“It also allows small independent agronomy groups or farm businesses to put their own branding on the interface.

“We like independent agronomy and its way of thinking and felt that the sector was in danger of losing out, so needed a precision tool that allows them to compete,” said Mr Wilson.

Satellites

The platform uses satellite imagery from the ESA’s latest Sentinel satellites and updated daily. This is supplemented by drone and tractor sensor imagery where required to ensure access to crop growth data during periods of cloud cover.

Clever functions of the software include the ability to carry out plant counts in crops such as potatoes, sugar beet and maize as they emerge.

Crop growth

Subsequent monitoring of crop growth parameters such as percentage ground cover as the season progresses allows potato growers to produce variable rate desiccant application maps.

Modelling within the platform can also forecast potato yield and tuber size distribution, helping to time crop burn off accurately to maximise marketable yield – particularly important for salad and seed potato growers.

In addition, 50 years of historic weather data is fed into the system and when combined with slope and aspect data, field-scale late blight risk alerts can be produced for more informed fungicide application decisions.

The price of the service starts at £1/ha a year for images from lower cost satellites. More accurate, higher resolution options from the commercial satellite networks are £2/ha a year.