The event, chaired by Farmers Weekly’s Karl Schneider, discussed the current state of new technology in the arable sector, how to identify the most promising and encourage uptake by the farming community. Proving that a technology is effective, and more importantly, cost effective, is key to avoid scepticism by end-users. The Hands Free Hectare is an example of how demonstration of technology on a small scale can be scaled up, as is the use of robots to monitor crops and the development of novel techniques to control pests and diseases.
The SRC SlugBot Innovate UK funded project with CHAP is an example of the rapid development of new techniques being developed with target identification and precision application, an area of research which CHAP is exploring to optimise spray application techniques, especially for biopesticides.
Timing of application is critical for efficacy, with decision support systems such as CropMonitor Pro providing an accurate prediction of the pest and disease risk for winter wheat, oilseed rape and potatoes. Images from multispectral cameras can be used for pre-symptomatic detection of diseases to alert the farmer of the need to spray in general, but more importantly which areas of the field need to be treated.
Technological developments will further develop, with variable rate and spatial application reducing the need for whole fields to be treated, reducing overall crop protection costs. A common thread throughout the webinar discussion was the generation and use of data. Data ownership needs to be well defined, but greater use of data and accurate validated models is starting to revolutionise the industry and drive the further development of new technology.
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