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Maximising margins through historic field data

Growers can make more informed field management decisions based on historic field fertility data using Premium Crops’ farm management software, Next Farming.

Talking Fields, the satellite mapping division of the software, links historic data with yield maps to create a better understanding of individual field performance.

Speaking in the Innovation and Technology Theatre at Cereals, Andrew Probert, of Premium Crops, said: “A yield map is very static and it only gives you a history of what has happened in that one particular year.

“What we want to do is delve behind what is driving that yield.”

The software uses 15-20 years’ worth of data to build up a base map of the field’s fertility, known as the persistent relative fertility, to remove other variables which will have affected yield each year, such as weather or type of crop grown.

Mr Probert added: “Ultimately what we’re looking at doing is not necessarily maximising yield, but maximising the margin.”

Combine yield maps and the base map can then be compared to find a correlation between the two, breaking data down into 10x10m squares, and giving a more accurate picture of field fertility.

“If we’re going to make a nitrogen application, and we know from our base map we have areas of high and low fertility, we can produce an application map which links to a variable application machine to either increase or decrease fertiliser or seed rates in particular areas, and fit the parameters of the map to work in whichever scenario we want to,” Mr Probert said.

Talking Fields data is constantly being updated so growers are able to modify management of the field in order to maximise margins.

It will create a cost comparison between all scenarios and show an overall field margin.

With most mapping systems based on normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) where information can be limited, according to Mr Probert, Talking Fields uses green area index.

He said: “NDVI only takes two data points, whereas Talking Fields takes nine.

“It also reviews water absorption which NDVI doesn’t, and is hugely important when you’re looking at making decisions on your crop.”

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