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£10k of expertise for the Harper Adams farm

Posted 21 June 2013

Harper Adams University has received £10,000 worth of expertise from crop production specialists, SOYL.

The donation was made to the National Centre for Precision Farming (NCPF), based at the university in Shropshire, in the form of expert advice and services.

SOYL is the market leader in the practical application of precision techniques to manage soil and crop production. It recently mapped the university farm for nutrients and carried out an electrical conductivity survey to produce variable seed rate maps.

SOYL, a division of Frontier Agriculture Ltd, also provided satellite images of the farm's fields and mapped compaction levels across several fields.

Dr Keith Chaney, Principal Lecturer, Crop and Environment Sciences Department, said: “This provides the opportunity for students to have first-hand experience of current developments in the precise application of inputs. 

“It bridges the gap between engineering advances and crop agronomy for students studying agriculture, agriculture with mechanisation, agricultural engineering as well as our new MSc in Precision Farming."

Simon Griffin, SOYL's Head of Science, said: "I'm sure the information we're providing will be a useful resource for students who have a precision farming module included in their studies.

“This data means they can they go onto the farm and look at the relationship between what the SOYL map shows and what is actually happening in the field."

SOYL is also using the university's farm as a site to develop innovative work on several other projects including variable rate cultivation and field compaction mapping; using controlled traffic farming to improve soil structure; and involvement in a grassland research project as part of broader research work in conjunction with DairyCo.

Commenting on this, Farm Manager at Harper Adams, Scott Kirby, said: "In the last couple of months the collaboration has led to a great deal of work looking at the benefits of using precision farming in forage production and employing technologies with applications beyond arable cropping."

Simon added: "We see the partnership with Harper Adams developing and the mapping is only the first stage. The information provided will help form fertiliser plans and seed rate maps which can be used to apply inputs variably post-harvest 2013.

"The team at SOYL has extensive experience of the practical application of precision techniques on farm, as well as an active research and development programme.

“We are more than happy to share our expertise and provide support to the next generation of agricultural experts. This might include providing support in the form of specialist lectures or equipment and advice on future precision farming research projects.”

Frontier is a major supporter of Harper Adams, having donated £170,000 to construct the Frontier Crops Centre at the University in 2012. The Centre accommodates staff and research students engaged in crop or crop-related activities, as well as providing a new base for on-farm teaching.

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