Farming outside from inside the home
26th May 2020
Farmers have been labelled critical to the COVID-19 response, as they ensure our home-grown food continues to fill our vital supply chains. Due to the recent crisis, farmers who directly supply restaurants and cafés have faced a fall in demand of 70-80 percent. Farmers now have challenges with recruiting harvest labour and whilst there is no vaccine, they need to plan for a reduced workforce. Technology can support this. A highly pressurised and isolated work environment has been amplified due to COVID-19, and with anything but essential travel to farms stopped, advisors and agronomists have had to adapt. It seems the challenges and disruption agriculture has been faced with are set to stay for some time.
Farmers need tools to make their working ecosystem easier to manage and to support key business decisions. COVID-19 is making workers look at new and more efficient ways of making their businesses sustainable during turbulent times. Technology can also support this. With the pressure the industry is under, AgSpace’s agronomy clients are set to fulfil a vital role in the coming months. By assisting their own farming clients through the Contour platform, crop and soil advice can continue to be delivered in an accurate and productive way.
The ‘stay home’ message is impossible to meet for farmers. This problem can be helped by adopting remote sensing from satellite images and digital agronomy tools that enable a visit to the field from an office. From monitoring soil health, to satellite images that detects crop stress, to cloud penetrating radar that forecasts yield, our UK partner RHIZA, offers tailored Contour packages to suit all farms and aims to increase yields and improve efficiency. Crucially, RHIZA’s packages transform essential travel to the fields into an unessential one. This helps to keep our critical industry of farming operating, but with the benefit of our farmers home and safe wherever possible, when not isolating in the tractor cab.
To ensure we continue to deliver, Agrii have ensured the nine Digital Technology Farms (DTF) continue to be monitored remotely on lockdown. The DTF’s were launched to view and test the value of digital agronomy and data-based information systems, demonstrate their most profitable use, and provide the broadest base for future improvements. Agrii invests over £1 million annually into R&D with over 40,000 plots and 600 replicated trials, so farmers can save costs and time for the result of improving performance in every part of the field.
As a group, we also commit further to the future of R&D by partnering with University College Dublin and Science Foundation Ireland, through a €17.6 million, multi-year research project. CONSUS will provide cutting edge digital tools for future generations of farmers and agronomists, with the result of greater profitability and reduced environmental impacts.
Observations from inside the home
These GCVI (Green Chlorophyll Vegetation Index) images from our Digital Technology Farm in Scotland for the 2019/2020 season, show the optimised nutrition tramlines highlighted in red. The left image was taken on the 19th of March and shows a definitive line running down the third tramline from the left. The right image from the 8th of April is showing the crop is under stress. During the three weeks between the two images the crop only received 6.08mm of rain compared to 89.95mm in the weeks leading up to the first image. What is evident, is the optimised nutrition tramlines have tended to remain greener under recent drought stressed conditions.
There is evidence of a positive correlation between the crop establishment and the RHIZA soil zones on both images. Broadly, the variation in the crop follows the zones to the line. As data is continued to be collected throughout the season for ground truthing, the collated and interpreted data will be useful for understanding zonal crop limitations.
“AgSpace has dedicated itself during these unprecedented times to support and keep our farmers on the frontline safe. Through satellite imagery we have built a technological bridge between our farmers and their fields to ensure they will feed the nation whilst staying safe and staying home” said Rachel Watling, Marketing and Key Account Manager.
As we thank our farmers, see also ‘Farmers tribute to NHS seen from space’.
During the lockdown period, RHIZA have already pledged to make many of their services open to their customers at no charge, providing the industry’s highest resolution satellite imagery and Septoria pressure models to farmers and growers. They would like to invite any farmers who feel they would benefit from this offer to get in touch with their local RHIZA team to find out how they can help them or contact them via their website. *After the pandemic, there is no contract for farmers to carry on using the free service.
Press contact: Rachel Watling, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 78155 94452
AgSpace Ltd is the digital arm of Origin Enterprises plc, a focused Agri-Services Group, with a main focus to be the leading provider of value-added services, technologies and strategic inputs that support the delivery of sustainable and profitable food production solutions for primary producers. AgSpace deliver digital solutions to agri-businesses, providing crop growth performance, aggregation and big data analytics. Their digital agronomy tool ‘Contour’ is delivered by service provider RHIZA, and gives you access to the best data for smarter daily management of your crops. Users get unique satellite data, crop growth models, hyper local weather data and pest and disease models, allowing the creation of management zones and improved in field decision making. It’s proved to improve profitability and productivity.
AgSpace, Digitally Transforming Farming