An innovative online grower ‘hub’ brings together three key functions – agri-business information, field recording and precision mapping – to deliver users time and costs savings, says its developer.
According to Agrovista, its Axis cloud-based agronomy tool will collate multiple data sources onto one easy-access platform. The system, which has been developed with a number of partners, including Muddy Boots, will be launched to growers at Cereals 2014.
Speaking at a press preview of the new hub at Sir Rupert Mann’s Thelveton Farms near Diss in Norfolk, Agrovista precision technology manager Lewis McKerrow said the company’s aim in developing Axis was to help growers run their businesses more efficiently.
“For some time there has been an increasing onus for the industry to find a way of streamlining our record-keeping processes and data flow.
“Our intention was always to make the system cloud-based so farmers could access and add to their information via multiple platforms, including smartphones, satellite-mapping equipment and their PCs.
“Hosting the information in the cloud also means farmers can give their advisers access to their account for the two-way exchange of information and advice.”
Cloud technologies have been growing in prominence and importance within the wider business community for real-time storage, file-sharing and web-based communications. According to Mr McKerrow it makes perfect sense for farming to harness the power of the cloud.
“Axis will target a common frustration among growers – the paperwork and record-keeping associated with compliance. While we have been well aware of the efficiency benefits of using precision farming, we have missed one crucial element – integrating their use with the all-important recording – and reminding – of key dates and times for the field tasks. This management element is lacking in many of the simple systems farmers are using.
“Axis will be a useful tool for coordinating these types of disparate, but valuable, data sources and will help in the production of complete and accurate records. Within the next few years we will find live data connections between tractor and office will be commonplace. Farmers will be able to send prescription plans like spray recommendations in real-time to both the operator and the machinery and will receive the completed data back all as one complete streamlined affair. This type of full farm operation integration is very much the focus.”
Agrovista director of strategic development, Dr Tony John, outlined how the company saw the use of data developing over the next few years. Highlighting the current winter wheat yield plateau and the gaps between theoretical, experimental, potential yield and actual farm yield, Dr John said new genetics and developments in crop protection and precision farming could close some of these gaps and tools such as Axis could help by converting information to knowledge and delivering integrated precision agriculture.
Access to ‘big data’, or multiple layers of data, will allow growers to better understand underlying variability and how it can be addressed.
“Use and recording of technology allows early development and modification of strategies, in-season, to determine investment in-crop, and optimise cost of production per tonne,” Dr John said.
Examples going forward might include integrating disease modelling, plant growth stage prediction and drone imagery, he added.
Compatibility across the range of IT and precision farming systems used in agriculture can be a limiting factor, but according to Agrovista, Axis is being developed to work across all systems.
“There should not be limitations to what you can send to or receive from,” said Mr McKerrow.
Axis is being trialled by a group of Agrovista farmer customers, including Thelveton Farms arable manager Jonathan Lloyd and sprayer operator Gary White, who with a large number of small to medium-sized fields across the estate’s 1,800 in-hand hectares (4446 acres) are finding the removal of duplicate paperwork a big bonus. A paper-based sprayer worksheet and record-keeping system had been replaced using Axis accessed via iPad and sprayer worksheets could now be completed and available to Mr Lloyd before the sprayer left the field, said Mr White.
Access to the hub will be available on three levels: Axis Info, which offers access to useful agri-information in one place free of charge, Axis Field Pro, integrated with Muddy Boots’ Greenlight Grower Management system and incorporating its online crop management system, field recording and data sharing and Axis MapIT Pro, which incorporates Info and Field Pro with a Google-based precision farming mapping package to keep farm maps and precision data together in one place. Axis Field Pro and MapIT Pro will be available on subscription and charges were not available as Farmers Guardian went to press.
- Free to register
- Online access to agronomist recommendation sheet
- Basic mapping – field boundaries and cropping
- Agrogate section – compliance/NVZ/renewables/SFP
- Varieties – info
- File store
- Labels/data sheets
- Fertilise rmarket updates
- Chemical store list
- Account information
- Axis Info plus:
- Greenlight grower management incorporating field recording package and seed/fertiliser/spraying/machinery records
- GLGM iPad app
- Seven day weather forecast
- Technical library
- 1GB cloud storage in File Store
- Field Pro plus:
- Google-based farm mapping system
- Complimented by iPhone/iPad app
- Displays fields and crops
- Soil nutrient status view
- Import any GPS data (Q3 2014)
- Build variable rate plans
- Data sharing options
- Planned future developments for MapIT Pro include integration with compliance data and provision of field level weather station data
- Data in one place
- Reduced double handling of data
- Less file swapping
- Weather forecast related to farm and incorporating spray window chart
- Farm business services in one place
- Account information always available
- Technical information in one place
- File Store any time reference
- Any time access to labels/data sheets
- Fertiliser market updates
- Basic mapping
- Technical information
- Variety information incorporating HGCA and breeder data
- 1,800ha (4,446 acres) in-hand
- Soil types: Light sandy loam, medium clay loam, heavy Beccles Series clay
- Cropping includes: 421ha (1,040 acres) feed wheat, 220ha (543 acres milling wheat), 92ha (227 acres) winter barley, 167ha (413 acres) oilseed rape, 20ha (49 acres) oats, 68ha (168 acres) winter beans, 34ha (84 acres) spring beans, 38ha (94 acres) parsley, 148ha (366 acres) sugar beet, 61ha (151 acres) forage maize, 229ha (566 acres) permanent pasture
- 320-head suckler herd
- Minimum 1,200-head of cattle on-farm each year
- 700 beef finishers to abattoir each year