This month sees the launch by Hutchinsons of a new, highly accurate soil mapping service, TerraMap. It is said to revolutionise soil nutrient mapping in the UK, setting a new standard for accuracy in precision agriculture. TerraMap uses gamma-ray detection technology that delivers resolutions of over 800 points/hectare, providing high definition mapping of all common nutrient properties, pH, soil texture, organic matter and cation exchange capacity as well as elevation and plant available water.
Hutchinson's Precision Technology Specialist Nick Strelczuk is most impressed by the level of resolution offered by TerraMap and says that it can deliver 21 layers of data for one field. "TerraMap is available from Hutchinsons as a standard or premium service. Scanning takes place by driving an all-terrain vehicle fitted with the sensor over a field and then taking soil samples to allow each scan to be used to create individual map layers. Results from TerraMap are used to create maps within the Hutchinsons Omnia system. I am impressed by the fact that the system is not affected by soil moisture, compaction or crop cover so can be used over a wider window."
Oliver Wood, Hutchinson's Precision Technology Manager said: "The launch of TerraMap comes at the perfect timing for farmers looking for that next level of accuracy in understanding their soils – a level which has not been previously possible. We have been looking for a new method of mapping soils that provides more accurate and repeatable results and can also leverage the multi-layer analysis within Omnia. This scanning technology from Canadian company SoilOptix is based on a scaled down version of airborne sensors that originates in mineral prospecting."
Maps created in the Omnia system can be overlaid with additional information such as yields, black-grass and to create the most accurate and detailed variable rate plans. Nick says that most farmers have the ability to take advantage of this. He reports that many of his farmer customers are interested in TerraMap and has been surprised by the level of interest shown by grassland farmers, who are looking to grow better grass and silage. “It is not just for arable farmers, but useful for all. In my mind TerraMap is a real game changer."