For the ﬁrst time, agronomy services business Hutchinsons has quantiﬁed the beneﬁts of precision farming technology in raising crop yields while reducing growing costs.
The breakthrough comes from the statistical analysis of ﬁeld-scale data from its Omnia Precision Agronomy web-based decision support system that connects precision farming and agronomy.
The company compared variably drilled wheat alongside farm standard rate drilling on split ﬁelds across three separate sites with different soil types in 2018. Fertiliser was applied variably, with development monitored both by satellite technology and on the ground through plant counts. The trials were taken to yield, with a full statistical analysis of the results.
The work showed an average yield improvement of 0.6 tonnes/ha from the Omnia crops compared to the standard treatment across all sites, with a best difference of 1.4t/ha. The average farm standard yield was 8.62t/ ha with 9.22t/ha from the Omnia managed crops.
The average cost of production of the precision drilled crops was £15/tonne lower, with a best saving of £28/tonne. Assuming a wheat price of £165/tonne, Hutchinsons says the crops grown under the Omnia system made an average £99/ha more in gross output, with the highest having a £230/ha advantage.
The company is repeating the work across 30 sites in England and Scotland for 2019, with a programme of 10 winter-drilled and 20 spring crops to validate the 2018 trial.
"After signiﬁcant investment in our own very distinctive system to bring precision agronomy to UK arable farms, it is hugely satisfying to see on-farm trials proving it delivers very worthwhile yield improvements and reduced growing costs," comments Hutchinsons Chairman David Hutchinson.