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Trials Show Payback For Precision Farming – Farmers Guardian

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Agronomy business Hutchinsons has published the results of its first financial validation trials on winter wheat using its Omnia Precision Agronomy application, which show a 0.6-tonne/hectare yield increase, worth £99/ha based on a wheat price of £165/t.

Nick Strelczuk, precision technology specialist at the company, says: “It is the first time we have been able to prove the financial benefit the features using Omnia for variable rate applications offers to growers."

The trials were carried out at three sites, with results averaged to give the 0.6t/ha yield advantage.

Fields were split, with standard farm practice applied to one half and Omnia Precision Agronomy to the other.

Loam

In one example, a trial carried out at Saltby Farms in Leicestershire on a field where soil type was predominantly sandy loam with a clay loam strip running through the middle. Hutchinsons agronomist Sally Morris and farms manager Frazer Jolly mapped the field for soil texture, seedbed condition - scored good, acceptable or poor - and slug pressure - scored high, medium or low based on historical experience.

This information was put into Omnia, creating a seed rate plan. Winter wheat variety RGT Illustrious was drilled on October 17, 2017.

The flat farm standard seed rate was 356 seeds/sq.m and the average Omnia rate was 364 seeds/sq.m, however, this ranged from 164kg/ha to 207kg/ha.

Ms Morris says: “This shows we are not applying a huge amount more or less, the difference is that we are targeting the seed where it needs to be."

Carrying out plant counts in an area of slug pressure showed a range of 80-220 plants/sq.m with the farm standard regime and a range of 150-230 plants/sq.m with Omnia.

“Establishment was much more even with Omnia," says Ms Morris.

A biomass image of the crop was taken on May 17, 2013, and used to create a variable N rate map for the final fertiliser application timing on the Omnia strip. The average final nitrogen application was 404kg/ha Sulphan (24 per cent N + 15 per cent SO3) across the field. but the variably-applied rates ranged from 365-462kg/ha Sulphan.

A yield map created following harvest 2018 showed the Omnia treatment yielded 8.11t/ha, out-yielding the standard farm treatment yield of 6.66t/ha by 1.41t/ha.

A cost of production map showed the average cost of using Omnia was £93/t compared with £121/t using the standard farm treatment.

Omnia costs from £250/annum depending on the package chosen. The full precision farming system costs £5/ha/annum.

Thirty further financial validation trials are planned for harvest 2019.