“The aim going into winter is to have plant populations as uniform as possible, so we can manage the crop as a whole in the spring. In the past we have dabbled in variable seed rates, but I never felt that these were taking into account the agronomy of the field sufficiently, and did not encompass factors such as soil type, weed pressure or seed bed quality all together,” says Mr Bradshaw.

“There were programmes available that could include one or two of these factors, but to get it right as many characteristics of the field or area of a field need to be considered together, not in isolation.”

“To my mind variable rate drilling should be working to even out extremes to average the crop out – adjusting the rate by 10% here or there is not achieving anything. Depending on the field and the variations of soil type, weeds and seed bed quality you would expect the rate to change by as much as 30—50% to make a difference.”

“When I heard about the Omnia system at Cereals this year, I felt that it was certainly worth trialling it to see if the mapping feature was indeed able to offer a better picture of the field or areas of the field, and then deliver a much more accurate and appropriate variable rate drilling plan.”

Trialling Omnia

Mr Bradshaw decided to trial Omnia over about 600ha of autumn sown wheat and hybrid barley at Fletchers Farm, just north of Colchester.

“The system was user friendly and pretty intuitive to setup. Working closely with my agronomist, we drew up maps on soil type, seed bed quality, black-grass pressure and slug pressure. Each field had zoned areas that represented different ranges of weed or slug pressures or soil types for example.”

“These maps were then overlaid; the variety and drilling information selected and the system generated a variable seed rate for that field.”

This ability to overlay maps of data means that the recommendations created through Omnia are much more closely aligned to the agronomic requirements of the field, than has ever been possible to produce before, and this is a really exciting step forward in how precision technology can make us more productive and efficient as an industry, says Oliver Wood, Precision Services Manager.

“Omnia contains crop specific algorithms which are based on many years of trials and field experience, this ensures that every part of every field accurately receives the appropriate inputs to maximise productivity, whilst minimising environmental impact.”

Mr Wood points out that an important attribute of Omnia is that it can use data collected through different systems, so if a client for example has data collected by SOYL, the system can use this and previous work does not go to waste.”

This was an important factor behind Mr Bradshaw’s decision to trial Omnia this autumn, and is unique to the Omnia system. “It was reassuring to know that the system is supported by years of
Hutchinsons own proven and tested trials data, so the data being generated is real and extremely valuable.”

“Being able to over-ride the system at any time, even from a tablet in the field, means that you can make constant adjustments as you go along, and this flexibility is a really important feature of Omnia.”

The Results

Mr Bradshaw is pleased with the results so far. “In one field which ranges from a lovely loam to a heavy clay we had an 80% variation in seed
rate! The average seed rate is usually about 150kg/ha, but using Omnia, his varied across the field from 120kg/ha to 210kg/ha.”

“The crop has established well and plant counts are looking even, all of which make for managing the crop more efficiently through the season.”

The system is available now to farmers and agronomists.

For more information, please view our dedicated website:
omniaprecision.co.uk or email us: consultancy@omniaprecision.co.uk