Agrovista is launching two online tools at Cereals 2015 to help farmers manage their seed and chemical inputs more effectively to help ensure the best return on these investments.

Axis MapIT Pro data manager is the latest addition to Axis, Agrovista’s cloud-based agronomy management system designed to help farmers streamline their record-keeping and data flow.

“The amount of information farmers have to deal with is growing exponentially as the adoption of decision support and precision farming systems grows,” says the company’s Lewis Mckerrow. “MapIT Pro software will allow many pieces of the Precision Farming jigsaw to fall into place.”

One of the new software’s key roles will be to underpin variable rate drilling plans, says Mr Mckerrow. The software crunches crop biomass data scanned several times over a season, from establishment through to early yield prediction at ear emergence, to create field zones.

Once other known variables are accounted for (eg. slug damage, frost heave), a zone map can be created, and from this a variable seed plan can be set up.

“The MapIT Pro data manager allows these maps to be created easily,” says Mr Mckerrow. “To make a seed map, the user can choose to use an existing layer of data such as soil conductivity, yield or biomass maps, and the programme will then turn these into zoned maps at the press of a button. All the user needs to do is to add seed rates to each zone and press download. 

“Another option is to start with a blank field boundary and draw seed zones manually. There are several simple tools that act like ‘crayons’ to split up fields and save the zones.”

These zone layers can be selected and modified, based on subsequent plant counts and biomass scans of the crop, after the seeding plan had been applied.

An area of MapIT Pro still under development is a powerful data assessment tool that will use yield data, grain prices, diesel cost and seed cost to assess return on investment to help select the optimum seed rate when the crop is next grown in the field.

“This will effectively allow growers to check the benefits and make decisions for the next crop rather than just reviewing what happened in the last season,” Mr Mckerrow adds.

Axis subscribers are invited to bring their memory cards to the Agrovista stand (427) for a demonstration of the new MapIT Pro system using their own data live.

Highly Accurate Forecasting Service

Another Agrovista development at Cereals is the new Plantsystems weather forecast, which aims to offer the most accurate and suitable weather predictions available to help with daily decision making.

“This is essential information for any agribusiness,” says Plantsystems’ James Martin. “As well as input costs and ultimately profits being at stake if the weather turns, environmental and end-market pressures mean businesses must be able to justify inputs and operate with more efficiency.”

The forecast is updated automatically, and shows three days with three-hour windows at the finest level of detail. A two-week overview is also included.

Spray opportunity windows are shown as well as other useful weather conditions such as soil temperature (useful for drilling/planting as well as some spray products), evaporation rates (to indicate irrigation requirement) and hours of sunlight as a guide for crop growth.

The forecast also calculates the effectiveness of an application of herbicides, fungicides or insecticides depending on the weather conditions.

In addition, the forecast includes a range of crop disease modules from pasture through to potatoes. Subscription gives the user access to a five-day forecast for the main diseases that may affect the crop.

“The forecast is based on a 15-mile grid covering the whole of the UK meaning we should have an accurate forecast for pretty much anywhere,” says Mr Martin.

“Its accuracy combined with the advanced features and convenience of an online service means we will have the best forecasting tool available in the marketplace.”