Monday, August 19, 2019

New digital agronomy service promises to save farmers money

August 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

A new digital agronomy service aims to help farmers and their advisers make the most of an increasingly uncertain future.

Launched by Origin Enterprises, Rhiza brings together the long-standing expertise of established digital and precision specialists SoilQuest and IPF. It claims to be the country’s first fully-comprehensive digital agronomy business.

“In its simplest form, our system merely involves logging and automatically transferring geo-referenced field-walking observations to your farm records,” says Origin head of digital Simon Beck. “All you need is a phone or tablet with GPS and the special Contour app.”

Farmers and their advisers use the app to record and share information about areas of poor crop growth, weed patches, disease and other concerns. These records are then related to field performance so they can be managed accordingly.

Health reports

Mr Beck says: “You can leave it at this or – if you want further benefits with Rhiza – you can, at any stage, add optical satellite imagery to give you the most regular health report on every part of every field.”

Sophisticated soil mapping and variable rate management tools, for example, can help growers make the most of precision farming. Similarly, radar-derived crop growth monitoring and yield predictions can help improve in-season decision making.

“Immediately available and readily understandable real-time intelligence on crop growth and development, health and efficiency is increasingly important for the most resilient farming,” says Mr Beck.

“As in so many other walks of life, digital technologies are the future here. With Rhiza, we are quite literally putting this future into the hands of every farmer today in a way they can make increasingly good use of in meeting the challenges of tomorrow.”

With more than a decade of experience in applying digital technologies to commercial farming, the Rhiza team include 45 digital developers maintaining and continually improving its services – with a network of local account managers helping growers make the most of them.

Advanced technology

Origin business manager Chris Hoskins says the system is already used across 500,000ha in the UK. “Our Contour platform employs the most advanced satellite technology with the highest resolution, newest sensor technology and greatest image frequency,” he adds.

“In addition, we make use of the country’s largest network of local weather stations for the most effective real-time information, and draw on an unparalleled resource of R&D data and aggregate information from more than 1500 UK farms.”

There are three levels of service – base, plus and pro – with prices starting 50p/ha. The addition of crop growth modelling, yield predictions and pest and disease decision support tools, means the Pro service needs a feed wheat yield increase of 20kg/ha to pay for it.

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