ao link
Farmers Guardian
Over The Farm Gate

Over The Farm Gate

This Is Agriculture - Sponsored

This Is Agriculture - Sponsored



Auction Finder

Auction Finder

LAMMA 2021

LAMMA 2021

Simon Fox: Meet our 2019 Agri-Innovation Den finalists

Sponsored by BASF and Farm419

One company is taking soil analysis to the next level, using data and 30,000 lines of code to calculate the needs of soil for a specific crop and market.

“I’m a sort of adventurous geek" Simon Fox
“I’m a sort of adventurous geek" Simon Fox
Simon Fox: Meet our 2019 Agri-Innovation Den finalists

“I’m a sort of adventurous geek - I love all things science, nature and environmental,” says Simon Fox. “I make it my business to know and read everything.”


This hunger led to a duel career as a soil scientist and software engineer - which proved perfect for developing OptiYield.


The platform provides a sophisticated soil analysis, using 27 points of data and 30,000 lines of computer code (which Simon has written himself), to calculate a soil’s nutrient needs based on the specific crop and market the grower is producing for.


Rather than just the nutrients present in the soil, OptiYield shows the nutrients available to the plant - resulting in better and more targeted nutrient applications.


For growers, this will save money and resources, boost yields and crop quality in terms of aesthetics, disease resistance, nutrient value and even shelf life, he explains.


Savings will also reduce pollution and CO2 emissions.


The tool is the culmination of Simon’s life-time’s investigation of the relationship between soils, nutrients, nutrient availability and crop development, kick-started by his first job as a fresh-faced soil scientist in Swaziland in the 1970s.


Here, he stumbled on a problem - Soil analysis techniques did not show nutrients available, only nutrients present, and were therefore not very useful for farmers.


This was the case for almost every nutrient - and little has changed since the 1960s, he adds.


“The bottom line is that soil analysis as conducted not only in the UK but worldwide is broken - even Defra themselves admit soil analysis for certain nutrients is ineffective or unreliable.”


“Things need to move on. Crop yields have remained almost static for 20 years despite increased uses of technology - crop nutrition is an important part of the reason why.


“Food production will need to increase and we need to do this without using more land, and without increasing fertiliser use.”


For further information on Agri-innovation Den, visit the website

Read More

Roelof Kramer: Meet our 2019 Agri-Innovation Den finalistsRoelof Kramer: Meet our 2019 Agri-Innovation Den finalists

Company Facts: OptiYield

  • Modernises soil analysis, providing nutrient available information, rather than just nutrient present
  • Specialist lab testing provides detailed data which is fed into the OptiYield platform.
  • Using 30,000 lines of code, data from 2000 published research papers, and information from the grower about crop type and market, an algorithm calculates a ‘Nutrient Availability Model’
  • Provides a programme of soil microbes and bio-stimulants (stimulate more vigorous plant growth)
  • Customers have reported 25% yield increases, better disease resistance, and improved nutrient content of product
  • 40 customers currently - hard launch November
  • Covers 35 worldwide crops, but plans to expand. Applicable to all soils.
soil data analysis

How it works


A farmer takes a soil sample and provides OptiYield with information on crop, variety, target yield and market qualities they are seeking.


The soil undergoes an extended analysis in an independent lab, with results fed into the OptiYield database.


Using these, information from 2,000 published research papers on soil and crop science, and information from the grower, OptiYield’s algorithms produce a ‘Nutrient Availability Model’.


This gives the grower foliar and soil nutrient recommendations based on their desired outcomes.

For example, if the grower is producing salad potatoes, OptiYield will make recommendations for achieving a large number of small potatoes.


OptiYield can do this for 35 world crops, from potatoes to bananas. So far, Simon has focused on high-value crops, but next year will expand into arable crops.


The company also provides recommended programmes of bio-stimulants (switch genes on and off in plants, inducing stress-resistance to maximise their yield) and soil microbes.


Using the company’s programme, some customers have reported 25% yield increases after just one growing season.


One customer, a major UK carrot grower, saw yields increase 20%, carrot spot decrease, and mineral content of the crop increase 40%.


OptiYield currently has 40 customers, ranging in size from family farms to large commercial units.


For more information visit

Agri-Innovation Den 2019

What’s in the package?


  • Print and digital advertising to the value of £30,000 across Farmers Guardian, Dairy Farmer and Arable Farming
  • An innovative PR and marketing package, which includes the creation of bespoke content for your exclusive use, comprising a promotional video, article, press release and social media support
  • Two delegate packages to the Oxford Farming Conference 2020, including conference tickets, accommodation, dinner and Emerging Leaders Programme participation
  • Half-a-day of mentoring for the business in 2020
  • A 12-month membership of Farm491, including: one-to-one business support with the Farm491 team
  • Access to AgriTech knowledge network; funding advice and building a scalable funding strategy; access to hot-desking facilities and meeting rooms
  • Promotion on Farm491 site, newsletters and social media.


When is the judging day?


Finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at Farm491, Cirencester, on November 21, 2019.


Who are the Judges?

  • Sarah Bell, independent consultant at S.E. Bell Agri Food
  • Dr Claus Hackmann, venture capital investment manager at BASF
  • Luke Halsey, entrepreneur in residence at Farm491
  • Rupert Levy, chief financial officer at AgriBriefing
  • Louis Wells, solutions and services manager for agricultural solutions in the UK and Ireland at BASF

For more information, visit

Sponsored by BASF and Farm419
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

Most Recent