BASF Digital Farming GmbH has joined forces with the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) to integrate their detailed environmental data in the ASSIST E-Planner tool, with the comprehensive online crop optimisation solution, xarvio FIELD MANAGER.
Alongside the business-orientated agronomic features and advice offered by FIELD MANAGER, such as pest and disease forecasting and variable rate application maps, its users will now be able to accurately identify less productive areas, assess their suitability for a range of environmental management options and integrate those insights with their seeding, nutrition and crop protection maps.
“Integrating the E-Planner tool means growers will have, at their fingertips, the information they need to optimise crop production, biodiversity and deliver environmental benefits,” said Nicholas Corker, Innovation Manager at UKCEH.
Mike Green, Sustainability Manager for BASF agreed: “Not only are growers under increasing pressure to use their land in different ways – from food production, to wildlife habitats and carbon sequestration – but increasingly we’re looking for results. The integration of ASSIST E-Planner allows stakeholders to make better, more-informed decisions and that helps ensure that where land managers choose to incorporate environmental management options, they deliver.
“Agricultural sciences and environmental sciences have never been incompatible, but too often have been separate schools of thought. This project helps unify thinking and brings synergy to crop production and environmental management.”
Using historic biomass data from satellites, FIELD MANAGER’s ‘Power Zones maps’ show the long-term yield potential of field areas. Growers using this feature can now overlay the ASSIST E-Planner maps showing the suitability of potential biodiversity activities and allocate separate ‘management zones’ within the system. When creating digital application maps for their drill or sprayer, these management zones can be included and automatically considered during tasks.
“The E-Planner provides maps showing the most suitable locations in all fields across Great Britain for a range of environmental management options, including sowing flower-rich pollinator habitats and winter bird food, creating woodland, restoring wet grassland and protecting water courses from pollution. They are all underpinned by detailed national datasets including soils, nearby habitats, slope and shading to assess land suitability,” explains Dr John Redhead, UKCEH’s technical lead.
“Together with FIELD MANAGER’s Management Zones – which enable growers to allocate field areas for alternative management and integrate into seeding and spray maps – we’ve a powerful decision-making support and implementation tool,” explained Nicolas Werner, xarvio’s digital farming technology manager.
The E-Planner, which is now also available through FIELD MANAGER, is just one of the practical digital tools being developed as part of the Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems (ASSIST) project. This six-year £12 million research programme, funded by UK Research and Innovation, is a partnership between UKCEH, Rothamsted Research and the British Geological Survey.
Professor Richard Pywell of UKCEH, programme manager of ASSIST, explained: “The E-Planner has been rigorously tested in the field, and we’re delighted to be able to bring its functionality to FIELD MANAGER. The combination provides a holistic farming tool.
“The ASSIST team is excited to be working in partnership with BASF Digital Farming to help increase the efficiency and sustainability of food production, whilst delivering multiple benefits to the environment and biodiversity.”