Precision Farming

Precision Farming in crop production is primarily concerned with improved management. Keith Duckworth once said “An engineer is someone who can do for one dollar what any idiot can do for a hundred dollars”.

This is often interpreted as a need or justification to do things differently in different parts of a field. Where there is substantial within field variability, precision farming is the way to manage this variable so as to optimise inputs & returns.

The first step in determining the contribution that precision farming can make to crop production is to obtain a measure of the underlying variation in a field. This begins with soil sampling.

Quad BikeThe standard “W” sampling procedure is not able to effectively respond to spatial variability in either soil structure or nutrient status. Strategic Sampling combines the detailed information collected by a grid soil sampling system. With this approach one sample location is taken in every hectare made up of sixteen sub-samples at this location. Each location is logged using a differential global positioning system so applications & further sampling can be guided to the same position.
The samples are then analysed at an independent laboratory for phosphorus, potassium, magnesium & pH. Sample point and colour maps showing the variation in nutrient levels across the field are then produced.

The maps are then used to create recommendations for:

  • Tractor SpreadingVariable rate application using GPS application systems to apply a precise quantity of fertiliser in every hectare.
  • Where areas of low fertility are easily identified one-off applications of organic or inorganic fertiliser can be applied using “dead-reckoning”.
  • If variation is minimal, the flat rate applications can be adjusted or eliminated accordingly.


 GPS Spreading Sequence


Brett Brothers have carried out GPS soil sampling in excess of 5,000 acres to-date. This area will then be top dressed with variable rates of P & K.

While there is an increased cost associated both with equipment having a high technical specification & soil testing – such an investment will give a positive return.

Depending on spreader type, the ease and cost of setting it up to comply with the SOYL bespoke-EQUI software is surprisingly cost effective. This software is the most advanced variable rate recommendation system available. The calculation can allow for variation in soil type, crop yield, variety, straw & target index level.

The map below illustrates the intensity of strategic sampling. It also highlights the variation than can exist in fields and why getting control of the variation is a key step in lifting yields.


Soil Nutrient Level Field Summary

Contact details

Brett Brothers Ltd.,
Co. Kilkenny.
Tel: 056-7755300

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