Precision farming pays dividends

WHILE precision agriculture was pioneered in the United States, Canada and Australia, the technique has been rapidly gaining ground elsewhere. In Europe, for example, the United Kingdom was the first to go down this path, followed closely by France.

AtlasFram member David Scott, who farms at Bedingfield Hall, Bedingfield, near Debenham, and is a director of the AtlasFram Group, started down the precision farming route several years ago and has already found it offers significant benefits.

Following a company de-merger in 2005, David, his father Derek and brother Richard split the farm, with David taking on Bedingfield Hall, which he operates with his wife, Diane and which extends to 365 ha, with a further three farms farmed on contract. The total cropping on the home farm includes 190ha of winter wheat 80ha of oilseed rape, 40 ha of vining peas together with 40ha of sugar beet on a four-year rotation of wheat, oilseed rape, wheat, followed either by vining peas or sugar beet. They also contract fatten 2400 pigs.

“We’ve made a start down the precision farming route and already established considerable financial savings by enabling us to site our ELS area on poorer areas of the farm, through more efficient cultivations and savings in base fertilisers,” he said.

“It will not be long before GPS and steering systems will be the norm on tractors and the next step will be full coverage of the area by RTK satellite guidance to give pin-point accuracy. This means we will be able to drill all our fields in the same direction every year which will in effect give permanent tramlines, then we can perhaps go to a “Controlled Traffic” or bed system to reduce damage to the soil structure by compaction of tractor wheelings. This should give us real yield benefit.”