Investing time for digital tech evaluation could quickly pay off

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Time spent now in evaluating and familiarising oneself with digital technology is likely to quickly pay off. That’s the view of Bayer’s Max Dafforn following a series of focus group surveys highlighting the contrasting attitudes towards digital agricultural tools.

While those surveyed found digital technology an ‘exciting prospect’, many also cited concerns. These barriers to adoption or fully utilising the digital data they own primarily revolved around time and also system integration, in particular the inconvenience of manual data entry or the risk of duplicated data.

Of the most contrasting issue, time, many see digital agricultural as having the potential to significantly reduce the time needed for administrative tasks, but also worry whether they have the time to commit to the necessary schooling and familiarisation needed.

The findings are no surprise to Bayer’s Mr Dafforn who commissioned the survey. “We’re not at the stage where we have fully seamless integration between systems and platforms, but it will come.”

He points out the route to seamless integration is well on its way. Over the last few months Bayer has reached agreements with Hutchinsons and Proagrica linking FieldView with the Omnia precision platform and Gatekeeper farm management software.

On the issue of time, he says the benefits far outweigh the time put aside for training and familiarisation. His view is the longer farmers delay evaluating digital technologies the more they could be missing out. “Of course, farmers will need to put aside the necessary schooling time, but those that have are benefitting from instant improvements in field performance.

In-depth insight

“The insight it offered has resulted in changes to variety choices, drilling dates, seed, fertiliser and PGR rates, OSR dessication, monitoring and managing weed populations and soil management practices. Growers do need to put aside time at the induction stage but the detail of the data and the ease with which it can be accessed offer in-depth insight resulting in better decisions in the field. The gains are small, but added up over a field or entire farm they generate significant value.”

He also points out that system setup and familiarisation isn’t as complex as many believe. “We’re running online tutorials to help growers optimise their systems, and setting up the FieldView drive is simply a matter of ‘plug n play’ – we even have a YouTube tutorial for this which can be viewed at; https://youtu.be/4vhVEZT0fKE.

“In a matter of minutes data from operations such as drilling, spraying, spreading or combining will be captured, which can be viewed instantly via the FieldView app, whether you are at the farm or elsewhere.”

Looking forward

Looking longer term Mr Dafforn says digital agronomy tools will be invaluable in shaping a successful sustainable future. “We’re going to some significant changes in the farming landscape. Some areas of land will switch from cropping exclusively to greater good, others alternating between the two based on season and farm strategy. Precisely identifying those areas will be easier with the layers of data within a platform like FieldView than without it.

“Furthermore, the cropped areas will be managed more prescriptively than ever before with farm inputs being tailored to meet exacting crop needs or threats. Again, creating prescriptive strategies across a field will be easier with FieldView’s data capture and analysis tools,” suggests Mr Dafforn.

 

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About Author

Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is an avid follower of Stoke City.