Hutchinsons has launched its Helix project, which it says is the first of its kind to look at how technologies can be linked with knowledge to deliver a greater level of advice to farm businesses.
The Helix project will act as a central research hub bringing together all aspects of crop production through to field data and input measurement. To include: sensors and prediction software, soil management and analysis to environmental aspects such as surveillance and predictive systems, nutrition, input and new trait technologies.
The national Helix Technology Development Farm is being hosted courtesy of Andrew and William Pitts of JW Pitts & Sons, located in Northamptonshire.
Andrew Pitts says: “We are running over 1700 acres here and our aim is to be productive, efficient and ultimately profitable, otherwise we have no farm. The relationship with the agronomist in future will become more strategic and inclusive of whole farm advice. I see a future when we will spend much less time field walking and more time on strategic discussion about the farm and sustainability.”
Working alongside the Pitts are Hutchinsons agronomists James MacWilliam and Michael Shemilt.
Michael is the ‘pilot’ agronomist of the future, testing and managing technologies with the farm to understand how they will work and their value in the farm scale situation. Work has already begun on the farm on areas such as climate and pest prediction, nutrition technology, variety trait work and environmental sustainability.
“We will aim to demonstrate these technologies by various means and not just the traditional farm open days. After all, this is about use and benefit of technologies, so technology will be used to demonstrate it, “ says Stuart Hill, Head of Technology & Innovation at Hutchinsons.
Hutchinsons’ Helix project will focus on three key project areas to start with that will align new and old technologies, evolving and developing these to improve crop management decisions. More projects will become apparent during 2019
- Project Predict & Justify – predicting and monitoring risk analysis with regards to disease, pests, crop growth, lodging risk. This will help growers to identify and understand where there is risk and to help justify farm decisions. For example, BYDV risk forecasting- making this field specific and for warnings to come before threshold levels are reached.
- Project Sustainability – sustainability encapsulates a sustainable farm business. This project looks at the sustainable use of inputs and sustainable farm environment. For example, Hutchinsons are developing technology to enable mapping of pollination species in appropriate locations and timings on farm.
- Project Nutrition – soil and tissue testing are challenging and time-consuming processes. The nutrition project aims to simplify decision making by enabling live analysis alongside developing knowledge.