Digital farm package unveiled by Niab

Key farm advisory packages are being brought together in a new streamlined offering from crop consultants Niab, which will be free to its member and cost £250/year to others.

Called Niab Digital it will give access to digital field mapping, disease modelling tools, satellite imagery and weather forecasting, along with a grower’s own field-specific farm and crop data.

The aim is to improve farm business performance through data integration and the use of real-time information in crop decision tools, says the group’s commercial technical director Bill Clark.

See also: Watch out for illegal pesticides, farmers warned

“This development makes it very easy to aggregate data from different sources. It is a powerful way of capturing, storing and managing the information you need to make day-to-day agronomic decisions,” he said at Cereals 2017.

Growers can use their location and local weather forecasts to allow them to predict the risk of crop diseases such as fusarium and sclerotinia on their farms.

Liquid chemicals are poured into a sprayer

© Tim Scrivener

New package 

Of the four services included in the new package, Mr Clark highlights the one called Farm, which allows farm data to be merged with field specific agronomy alerts and pest and disease monitoring information.

“You can map the farm, make use of geospatial analytics including three satellite images per season and carry out mobile field data capture.

Weather stations can be integrated, as can crop alerts, for controlled data sharing,” he said.

The other three services are:

  • ActivSmart – This is a pesticide and active ingredient comparison tool which scrutinises agrochemicals containing the same active ingredients.
  • Potato Crop Management – This is a collection of services, which give potato growers the technology to run yield and quality predictions and plan irrigation schedules.
  • Trials – This can be used to hold research data from plots and commercial field trials, where it can be combined with other specialist software.

Mr Clark highlights the interactive pesticide comparison tool ActivSmart as a failsafe way for users to stay on the right side of stringent UK pesticide legislation.

The database of all the pesticides registered in the UK is updated weekly and includes information on crop approvals, active ingredients, buffer zone requirements and restrictions.

“Put very simply, it prevents farmers and sprayer operators from making any unintentional errors, which may then result in a fine or a cross-compliance breach,” he said.

Active ingredients

Using the fungicide active ingredient tebuconazole as an example, he highlighted there are 54 straight tebuconazole products approved for use in the UK.

“You would think that all those products would be subject to the same conditions. But there are some that only allow one application per winter wheat crop, and others that can’t be applied in less than 200 litres/ha of water,” he said.

In addition, there 206 straight glyphosate products on sale, and for no apparent reason, five of them have arthropod buffer requirements.

“It is a minefield. ActivSmart is designed to help with this and ensure that you buy the most appropriate product for the job you want to do,” he said.

ActivSmart can also be purchased as a standalone product, at a cost of £66/year.

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