AGRICULTURE STUDENTS at Scotland’s Rural College have been given access to an online precision farming platform which allows them to map variation in crops using satellite data.

Data management is now a key part of crop husbandry and KORE, developed by precision farming company SoilEssentials, is one of the new generation of online platforms where data from multiple sources can be accessed, viewed and analysed to help farmers manage and make decisions about their land, fields and crops. The platform can also house drone imagery of crops, which can be linked with the other information.

Managing director of SoilEssentials and alumnus of SRUC, Jim Wilson, offered students access to KORE and lecturers have starting using it with fourth-year agriculture students as part of the Advanced Agronomy and Agriculture Precision Technology courses to teach the principles of precision agriculture. However, they hope it will become an integral piece of teaching in the future, available to all agriculture students.

A lecturer in SRUC’s north faculty, Alex Hilton, said: “This project came about when Jim suggested that students could have access to the KORE platform as a teaching tool. It was an opportunity we could not refuse and so over the summer we had a series of meetings to make this happen.

“SoilEssentials also provided some of the staff with training which was vital to be able to deliver our classes," said Mr Hilton. “All fourth-year agriculture students have logins so they can look at different fields on our farms, look at the variability and explore what options exist to change this. Some of our students are now interested in using this platform for their honours projects.”

Mr Wilson said giving students opportunities to explore new precision farming tools allows them to expand their knowledge and understanding and gets them thinking about the applications that it can be used for, now and in the future: “An understanding of the uses and concepts of precision agriculture has become one of the key skills needed by students to allow them to work in agriculture and its associated industries," he said.

“Using KORE will help students understand these uses and concepts and give them hands-on experience in the fields and crops that they already know, while using satellite and drone imagery, mobile applications, soil sampling and creating variable rate application maps.”