- Precise magazine
Focusing on key areas of innovation and technology Hutchinsons Helix project will act as a central research hub, it is a unique collaborative project working with a number of established companies to integrate different technologies and systems, allowing the grower to fully benefit from innovation and decision support.
The Helix project will be based around full scale working farms where impact can be measured on yields, productivity, efficiency and the farm environment and focus on all aspects of crop management from sensors and prediction software, soil management and analysis, through to field data and input measurement.
It will also encompass environmental aspects such as surveillance and predictive systems, nutrition, input and new trait technologies, which will also be assessed and developed within the Helix project.
The project’s aim is to look at how technologies can be successfully linked with knowledge to deliver a greater level of advice by agronomists to farm businesses.
“There is a need to evaluate which technologies are relevant and ultimately increase productivity and profitability, as well as efficiency, both for the grower and the agronomist.” Explained Stuart Hill, Head of Technology and Innovation at Hutchinsons.
All the linking of technology and knowledge will lead to decision making though a one-hub system approach, Omnia.
The national Helix Technology Development Farm is hosted courtesy of Andrew and William Pitts of JW Pitts & Sons located at Whiston in Northamptonshire.
“I’m very pleased to be working alongside such a forward-thinking business as Hutchinsons. 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 adapt to this and will, with the use of technologies, become more strategic and inclusive of whole farm advice,” says Andrew Pitts.
“The technology revolution is here and we need to ensure these are relevant, applicable and straightforward to use for all our benefit. I see a future when we will spend much less time field walking with the technologies available and more time on strategic discussion about the farm and sustainability.
“Helix, to us, brings together management support and technical services all into one bundle, tying it all together, making life simple, this gives us the opportunity to do it all in one go, but it’s got to add value to my business.”
Working alongside them 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 Mr Hill.
The Helix project will initially focus on three key project areas: -
Project Predict & Justify - Predicting and monitoring risk analysis with regard to disease, pests, crop growth and lodging risk.
Project Sustainability - This project looks at the sustainable use of inputs and sustainable farm environment. Hutchinsons are developing technology to enable mapping of pollination species in appropriate locations and timings on farm.
Project Nutrition - Soil and tissue testing is challenging and time consuming. The nutrition project aims to simplify decision making by enabling live analysis alongside developing knowledge.