As 2017 draws to an end we can reflect on another exciting year working at the heart of precision crop production.
Our mission to help our customers Make Every Hectare Count continued in 2017 and we've enjoyed a wide range of developments and achievements, summarised in this end of year blog.
January is always a busy start to the year with the AICC conference and LAMMA to attend. Both are important events to SOYL with the AICC event providing the opportunity to meet many agronomists and LAMMA being the UK's largest agricultural and machinery show.
February saw the start of another busy satellite imagery season. The main use of imagery continues to be variable rate nitrogen but in 2017 we started to see increased interest in using imagery for crop scouting and variable rate PGRs as part of our data analysis work. With satellite technology improving all the time we provided record numbers of images to our clients, opening up an even wider range of uses for the data.
In March we started discussions with a partner in Holland who has now introduced SOYL's services into the Dutch market. We also toured Sweden where we ran workshops for our customers there.
April saw a flurry of drone work for a range of mainly corporate rather than farmer clients. We also started some early work with a company call Spectrum Aviation who use light aircraft to collect imagery. This approach gives the detail and flexibility of a drone but with a sensible daily output of hectares.
In May we started our 18th harvest of CLAAS support which included an extended arrangement to look after GPS equipped foragers and telematics-based yield mapping. We also ran a series of customer training sessions. These were based around small groups with hands-on instruction on the use of mySOYL (our web-based precision data management tool) and iSOYL (our variable rate iPad app).
In June we had a SOYL first – a retirement. We said farewell to Nick Hall, an Area Manager covering the western region. Nick joined us in 2001 having previously working in farm management, crop nutrition, soil testing, fertiliser and lime sales roles during his career. We celebrated Nick's career as a team and he still attends SOYL events, catching up with colleagues and customers.
July saw the launch of this blog which has become one of the busiest precision crop production related blogs on the internet.
In July our science team were prominent at the European Conference for Precision Agriculture (ECPA) where they presented three scientific papers. The event was held in Edinburgh and consisted of an intense 3 days of scientific papers alongside a small exhibition. Our stand in the exhibition provided a chance to meet existing partners and talk to new international contacts who may wish to roll out SOYL in their country.
In August we launched version 3 of mySOYL which included a brand new variable rate seed calculator, establishment editor, user tasks and extensive data analysis tools. 2017 was a busy year for our in-house software development team. Efforts are now focused on a three month block of work that will go live at the end of January 2018 - probably one of the biggest releases since mySOYL version 1 in 2012.
September and October are very busy months in field with over 100,000 hectares of land to be surveyed in one form or another in those two months alone.
November saw the Croptec show where we were proud to unveil FIVE new innovations – a testament to the work of our product development teams. We also started our winter workshops which, after a lot of hard work behind the scenes, were well received by customers. These continue around the UK into January and February 2018.
With a busy 2018 to look forward to December is a great time for planning and doing some winter housekeeping ready for a quick start to the New Year.
I would like to wish our customers, colleagues and business partners a very enjoyable festive period. Working in agriculture can be demanding at times and I hope that all of you will find at least some time to relax.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me and the rest of the team at SOYL.
My first blog of 2018 will take a look at our plans for the year, which we hope will be just as busy and just as productive for us and our grower customers.
SOYL Commercial Director
For specific advice for your business related to this blog or any other aspect of crop production get in touch with SOYL.