Seamless connectivity, technology and automation have all allowed us to work smarter by improving decision making and farming practice. But sometimes technology needs human intervention to fully realise its value.
Andrew Ward of Leadenham, Lincs is one farmer who has embraced technology, but is not afraid to combine it with traditional farming practice to achieve the greatest benefits.
Our connected, precision farming world has improved every area of farm operations, but with a huge array of software options, and machinery manufacturers developing their own connectivity platforms, discrepancies can occur.
Every single machine has its own unique map. These differences are small but there are differences.
Now, using a Trimble system, field mapping is only undertaken using the farm’s Case Quadtrac when coupled to its Simba drill. ‘It’s a better base to work from, removing inconsistencies. The map is stored on Gatekeeper and exported to the rest of the farm fleet so each machine has the same map and identical A B lines.
We use a bowser for all spraying operations, including fields adjacent to the yard. It has a 400 L/min pump and 3“ pipework so tank filling is quick. But the real benefit is that the next load is pre-mixed ready to go – either in the yard or in-situ for outlying fields. It can give us an extra 100 acres of spraying in day – that’s important if the weather is a bit catchy.
We mark all part-used chemical cans with a permanent marker at the time of use, noting how much is left in the can, so there is no need to measure out, again keeping the sprayer in the field and reducing downtime. We must remember timing is as important as what is in the can itself.
We also do a stock-take of the various chemistry used after every spraying period. That stops it becoming a big job at the end of the season, and means Gatekeeper is always up to date, so when new chemical is ordered, current, up to date stock is taken into account.
Each tractor has a diary where we record all field work – including the field, task, tractor hours and fuel use. The data helps us record, compare costs, and work rates on a field-by-field basis.
It involves our team too, making them part of our performance monitoring process, and they can forward suggestions supported by data on how we might do things differently to improve productivity.