The team from SOYL precision crop production is supporting Harper Adams University's National Centre for Precision Farming with a donation of expert advice and services worth more than £10,000.
SOYL is the acknowledged market leader in the practical application of precision techniques to manage soil and crop production. SOYL has recently mapped the Harper Adams farm for nutrients and also carried out an electrical conductivity survey to produce variable seed rate maps. In addition, SOYL provided satellite images of the farm's fields and mapped compaction levels across several fields.
Keith Chaney, principal lecturer and Scott Kirby, farm manager at Harper, welcomed the involvement of SOYL. Dr Chaney described the importance of these evolving techniques in teaching and research at the University: "These developments provide the opportunity for students to have first-hand experience of current developments in the precise application of inputs. This bridges the gap between engineering advances and crop agronomy for students studying agriculture, agriculture with mechanisation, agricultural engineering as well as our new MSc in Precision Farming."
Simon Griffin, SOYL's head of science said: "I'm sure the information we're providing will be a useful resource for students who have a precision farming module included in their studies. This data means they can they go onto the farm and look at the relationship between what the SOYL map shows and what is actually happening in the field."
In addition to providing mapping and electrical conductivity services to Harper Adams, SOYL is also using the University's farm as a site to develop innovative work on several other projects including:
- Variable rate cultivation and field compaction mapping
- Using controlled traffic farming to improve soil structure
- Involvement in a grassland research project as part of broader research work in conjunction with DairyCo.
Scott Kirby noted that the strong links that Harper Adams has with companies such as SOYL, and the University's applied approach, creates a fertile environment to develop and demonstrate new techniques. "In the last couple of months the collaboration has led to a great deal of work looking at the benefits of using precision farming in forage production and employing technologies with applications beyond arable cropping."
Simon added: "We see the partnership with Harper Adams developing and the mapping is only the first stage. The information provided will help form fertiliser plans and seed rate maps which can be used to apply inputs variably post-harvest 2013.
"The team at SOYL has extensive experience of the practical application of precision techniques on farm, as well as an active research and development programme. We are more than happy to share our expertise and provide support to the next generation of agricultural experts. This might include providing support in the form of specialist lectures or equipment and advice on future precision farming research projects.
"We're delighted to support Harper Adams University and look forward to a rewarding partnership."
SOYL is a division of Frontier Agriculture. Frontier is a major supporter of Harper Adams, having donated £170,000 to construct the Frontier Crops Centre at the University in 2012. The Centre accommodates staff and research students engaged in crop or crop-related activities, as well as providing a new base for on-farm teaching.