WITH soil health rising fast up in the minds of many farmers, a well-known Scottish farming technology company has said that its new technology has revolutionised soil sampling and crop yield forecasting.

SoilEssentials, the Angus-based precision farming solutions pioneers, teamed up with leading space industry engineers and soil biologists to launch a new app to help farmers cut carbon emissions.

The tool, SoilBio, is the result of an innovative long-term project to evaluate and rate soil quality based on biological measurements. Launched in January at the Oxford Farming Conference, the service supports farmers and long-term good soil management.

In the three months since its launch, it has been received by farmers, agronomists and land managers around the country, said SoilEssentials’ Robert Ramsay. SoilBio is part of the company’s over-arching KORE app, and is a soil metric that gives a repeatable reading of the functional health of the soil.

Rather than trying to directly measure soil health, it uses the organisms that live in the soil to reflect the environment that they have inhabited. And, based on four years work and nearly 1m data points from soils in the UK, it can take into account several years of soil management.

In addition to potentially evaluating soil health in relation to future support schemes, SoilEssentials believes it will become an essential tool for tenant and contract farmers wishing to accurately assess soil parameters at key dates in land agreements.

A typical test uses three years of satellite imagery to detect areas of good and poor performance. Then, a soil sample is taken from each of these zones and the DNA of the nematodes present is extracted. The variation within this nematode community can be seen and indicative indexes are used to numerically evaluate the soil health.

Mr Ramsay added: “We are really pleased with the reception we’ve had for the SoilBio technology – we’ve received a great deal of interest. We knew that it had the potential to revolutionise soil management, and it’s great to see that even three months in, people are already finding the experience useful for their business.

However, it’s not a short-term cure. “The first three months have seen the initial base line health tests carried out and we can expect the benefits of those results to be seen in a couple of years time,” he pointed out.

“There has been a great deal of interest not only from farmers, but also growers, consultants, retailers and co-operatives as well. It’s fantastic to see so many people moving towards adopting regenerative farming methods, and we’re delighted to be a part of that.”