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Connecting growers to their machines – South East Farmer

Ease of connectivity makes transition to variable rate applications smoother than ever before ...

2018 saw the launch of Omnia’s Connect app – a cost-effective solution designed to simplify and streamline precision farming by connecting growers to their machines to enable variable rate control, streamlining precision farming operations, providing greater control and improving efficiency.

The iPad app allows the user to send variable application maps created in Omnia seamlessly and instantly to the field, and also controls the spreader, sprayer or drill. There is no handling of data and maps can be sent by any user to anywhere. It’s really cost-effective in that it is one system that can be used across multiple machines and operations.

Robert Sullivan of GSC Grays, and farm manager of Raby Estates, has been looking at how to introduce variable rate applications across the two farms that make up the estate in Durham and Shropshire.

“We had already started using Omnia on our Shropshire farm and were impressed with it, and had confidence in the system, so it made sense for us to look at how we might be able to make it work in Durham,” he said.

“On a more strategic basis it would also allow us to record and share data across the two farms and make well-informed management decisions accordingly.

“One of the challenges we faced was the logistics of our Durham farm; the 2,800 acres of combinable arable cropping is spread out, with 16 miles of road between the most eastern and westerly fields.

“Hutchinsons agronomist George Robson introduced us to Omnia precision expert Lewis McKerrow, who talked us through the Connect app and how easy it would be to generate and share variable rate plans across the machines on the farm – irrespective of geography.

“Lewis made the initial set up very straightforward and, importantly, in a language that a farmer could understand and interpret.

“The first step was to bring across data from our earlier soil sampling service into Omnia, to which we also added yield maps. Being able to use historical data was a real advantage, saving both time and money.

“Once all the data was inputted into Omnia and variable rate plans developed, all we had to do was plug in the iPad. Using Connect, the plans were downloaded straight onto an iPad in the tractor cab – and then it’s all systems go.

“We don’t have to worry about downloading the plans onto a memory stick and then doing the same again in the cab. The whole process is very intuitive, logical and simple to use.”

Robert had initially planned to concentrate on variable rate phosphorous and potassium applications, but he has also used it to produce variable rate drilling plans.

“We have now drilled variably for two years- and this year all of our combinable crops will be variably drilled,” Robert said.

“The benefits of this approach are without doubt more consistent crops, which was particularly noticeable in last year’s spring barley. We started on this journey thinking our main savings and benefits would be in variable fertilisers, but we have actually seen more value from the drilling in terms of yield benefits in the end.”

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