Location
Soils Programme: Precision farming technologies to drive sustainable intensification in horticulture cropping systems

Research

CP 107c - Soils Programme: Precision farming technologies to drive sustainable intensification in horticulture cropping systems

Start Date: 
01/04/2015
Completion Date: 
31/03/2018
Project Leader: 
Dr Lizzie Sagoo, ADAS UK Ltd
Code: 
CP 107c

Industry representative: Andy Richardson, Allium and Brassica Centre

HDC project cost: £433,922

 

The Problem:

Technological innovation offers growers new opportunities to increase productivity and profitability. This project will evaluate the current and future potential of precision farming techniques to improve soil and nutrient management in horticulture. Phase One will include:
• A soil structure survey to assess soil structural condition under horticulture cropping systems and to establish a baseline of current soil management practices.
• A review of available precision farming techniques and their potential application to horticulture.
The review will engage with industry, including the precision farming companies and machine manufacturers, growers, consultants and researchers to evaluate the potential for precision farming techniques such as controlled traffic farming, soil mapping, remote sensing of crop canopies, variable rate inputs and yield mapping, to increase crop marketable yield and profitability.
In Phase Two (years 2 & 3) the techniques with the greatest potential for uptake will be demonstrated and evaluated in field experiments on six commercial farms.
The project will draw on the expertise of a steering group of growers, researchers and independent consultants to inform the project and provide guidance on the selection of sites/techniques for field experimental work. A targeted knowledge transfer programme including six field trial open days and associated literature will facilitate rapid and widespread uptake of precision techniques within horticulture.

 

Aims and objectives:

Aim:
The overall aim of this project is to evaluate the current and future potential of precision farming techniques to optimise soil and nutrient management for improved profitability and sustainable intensification of horticulture crop production systems.
 
Objectives:
Phase One: Field survey of soil structural condition in horticulture and review of precision farming techniques for improved soil and nutrient management (first 14 months)
Objective 1. To assess the structural condition of horticultural soils and establish baseline information on typical soil management practices across a range of horticultural crops (perennial, biennial and annual).
Objective 2. To review the current commercially available precision farming techniques used for soil and nutrient management and to assess their potential application in horticulture cropping systems.
Objective 3. Collate the outputs from the soil structure survey (Objective 1) and review (Objective 2) into a practical user friendly ‘Guide to improved soil and nutrient management in horticulture’.
Phase Two: Field demonstration experiments to quantify the benefit of selected precision farming techniques for improved soil and nutrient management in horticulture cropping systems (years 2 and 3)
Objective 4. Project steering group meeting to agree the soil and nutrient management techniques to be assessed in field demonstration experiments on commercial farms in Phase Two of the project (Objective 5).
Objective 5. To carry out 6 field demonstration experiments to quantify the benefits (crop yield and quality and farm profitability) and trade-offs of selected soil and nutrient management precision techniques compared with conventional production on commercial farms (3 sites per year over 2 years).
Objective 1 and 2 are independent of each other and of the other objectives. Objective 3 is dependent on the successful outcome of Objectives 1 and 2. Phase Two work (Objectives 4 and 5) is dependent on the successful completion of Phase One (Objectives 1-3).