Kieran Walsh – Hand Free Hectare Blog Part 1, The Planning Stage

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Automated machines growing the first arable crop remotely without operators in the driving seats or agronomists on the ground. ​

Welcome to my first Hands Free Hectare blog. My name is Kieran Walsh and I am an agronomist with Hutchinsons crop production specialists. One year on since I was first asked by Kit Franklin to run the agronomy for the 1 ha trial; to see if a crop can be grown without stepping into the field. Such an exciting project, it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.

IMG_4148optimAbove Kieran Walsh (left) and Jonathan Grill (right)

Last week we had our first sponsor's meeting with the HFH team and we discussed time scales, the machinery, seed drilling rates, number of passes and nutrition was amongst many other topics. For an agronomist it’s very unnatural not being able to step into the field, but this is what I have been tasked with. Using Omnia precision software I have captured all the field data on one central hub including previous cropping, soil health information, soil type and soil analysis, weed pressure, etc.

KWS Spring Barley
Above KWS Spring Barley

Before leaving Harper Adams I couldn’t resist taking a close-up look with Jonathan Grill, one of the HFH engineers, at the boundary edge of the hectare plot. I am now looking forward to receiving my first images and video footage from the HFH automated machine.
Hands Free Hectare OmniaAbove Omnia Precision Agronomy Maps

We had the exciting news that the KWS Irina seed arrived today. It has been a busy week on customer’s farms with spring drilling kicking off but still time to organise seed rate plan and nutrition plans for the HFH plot. Hopefully my next blog I can tell you that we are drilled and rolled up.

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