Midlothian farmer, John Stewart’s growing use of data provided by RHIZA, the precision farming arm of leading agronomy provider, Agrii, is helping him and agronomist, Iain Sanderson, pinpoint areas for improved management.

Mr Stewart has been using RHIZA’s services since their onset, beginning with variable rate lime applications on the 500ha he farms across Remote Farm and Fordel Mains Farm, on land some 10 miles south of and overlooking Edinburgh.

Variable rate P and K applications quickly followed based on a soil scan and soil samples taken every five years as part of his RHIZA package.

His RHIZA account manager, Jack Wilson, created the variable rate application maps, which are then plugged into the Patchwork GPS box in the fertiliser spreader via memory stick, Mr Stewart said.

The use of satellite imagery within RHIZA is now helping him further fine-tune his management decisions, in conjunction with yield maps.

“You have to know why the combine is showing you a good or poor yield, and the imagery can help you understand that,” he pointed out.

He then uses that insight to help manage those fields, or parts of fields to improve performance or reduce costs.

“For example, it has highlighted poor parts of fields where putting on extra nitrogen is never going to improve yield, so we’re doing the opposite and putting less on.

“The other obvious one is fields, or parts of fields that need draining. That’s allowed us to target those area for repairs, including 40ha of ex opencast mining land which has successfully been brought back into production,” he said.

Using RHIZA to help integrate data analysis and precision farming agronomy into his farm to improve the farm’s performance is only likely to continue to develop, he suggested.

“We’re not there yet, but I see potential in variable seed rate applications and even carbon footprinting in the future,” added Mr Stewart.