Innovation

Precision Farming

Thomas Banks and Partners has implemented precision farming throughout its operations utilising RTK GPS technology (please see the RTK Farming Ltd page).

We believe to get the most from this technology it needs to be an entire growing year approach.  Our system is:

  • Electro Conductivity (EC) Scanning – All our land has been EC scanned by Farm Image (http://www.farmimage.co.uk/index.htm ), the EC data is analysed by a qualified soil technician who then zones the field and designs a tailored soil sampling plan to pick up in-field nutritional variability more accurately. It also gives us the soil texture, so that we can then create our own variable rate seeding maps.

Conductivity Scan

  • Soil analysis – All our land has been sampled to give us accurate P and K indices as well as Magnesium and pH levels. This then allows us to create variable rate trace element spreading maps so that we can reduce input costs while improving our soil fertility.

Soil indices

  • Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) – We are presently converting our farm into a controlled traffic farm. This means we always use the same traffic lines each time we do any pass over the land. The result of this is that the areas where there is no traffic, the yields should improve by 9-16%.
  • Variable rate seeding – using the EC maps we are able to drill the correct seed rate in each soil zone so that we get uniform establishment. Using RTK GPS we have standardised all tramlines so that each year the tramlines are exactly in the same place reducing compaction.
  • Variable rate nitrogen applications – Using satellite imagery supplied by SOYL (http://www.soyl.co.uk/soylsense.aspx) we can access the growing condition of the crop and apply the correct amount of nitrogen to encourage the plant to grow to the optimum growth stage.
  • Band spraying – Using our Micron Varidome (http://www.micron.co.uk/varidome ) we now band spray all our oil seed rape and sugar beet crops. This is only possible with our RTK GPS as the tolerance for error is very slight. However it does give amazing results with completely sterile strips of ground between the rows while reducing the overall chemical costs by between 40 and 60% as you are only ever spraying the prescribed chemical over 40-60% of the normal area.

Precision Farming – band sprayer results

  • Yield Mapping – Our Case 9120 combine is equipped with RTK GPS steering as well as yield mapping. This then enables us to combine in the most efficient way as well as to get the most accurate yield data, so they can be then analysed. We then use those maps to tailor our cultivations, seed rates and herbicide applications the following cropping year.
Yield Map

 

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