Precision farming helps break the profit barrier

With nitrogen prices hitting highs of £175/t and wheat languishing at £64/t, it’s increasingly difficult to make the arable equation add up.

But at the Precision Farming Event next month visitors can find a range of solutions to cut costs and increase profit.

Remote sensing of arable crops, for example, is bringing users an average benefit of about £24/ha.

Services, such as the SOYLsense system use satellite images combined with ground calibration to provide variable-rate spreading maps for nitrogen applications.

Last season 32 users on 3000ha (7413 acres) received an average benefit of about £24/ha on wheat from fertiliser savings and yield increases, SOYL’s Simon Griffin says.

The system, which costs £6/ha, uses digital images to determine a crop’s nitrogen requirements by assessing canopy management to calculate the amount of fertiliser needed to hit the Leaf Area Index (LAI) target for a specific growth stage.

Images are taken at three stages and after ground proofing calibration on a range of different soil types, SOYL produces a variable treatment plan map calculated accounting for the grower’s own background rates.

The map is then loaded into the spreader or sprayer’s (if using liquid N) variable application controller.

Application rates are adjusted automatically on-the-move, according to the map and with reference to position information from a GPS receiver.

Precision Farming 2006 takes place on 8 March at Newark Showground