Precision Farming & Soil Health
At Stracathro we have embraced IFM (Integrated Farm Management) to maintain the highest standards demanded by our customers.
Sustainable agriculture is the efficient production of safe, high quality agricultural products, in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of farmers, their employees and local communities, and safeguards the health and welfare of all farmed species.
GPS technology is installed on every tractor and harvester to ensure that our machines are fully utilised and to help our highly trained operators carry out their work to the highest possible accuracy. This ensures our crops get exactly the right amount of fertiliser or digestate for each growth stage.
This starts when we create a detailed soil nutrient map for each field in order for base fertiliser to be accurately applied at variable rates. Later in the growing season satellite imagery of the crop assesses the nutrient requirement based on the levels of chlorophyll in the plant leaves. From this information very accurate application maps are produced allowing us to apply nitrogen fertiliser at exactly the right amounts across the whole field with no wastage or unnecessary over applications. Since 2014 the estate has moved from predominantly solid to liquid fertiliser; this improves overall accuracy to within 5% of the desired rate, while with solid fertiliser the variance is 10 - 15%.
This difference can be seen when inspecting the crops, and has a visible difference it on the combine yield meter.
Accuracy when spreading to the field margin is also greatly increased meaning we can get nutrition right to the edge of the crop without wastage beyond the boundary.
This ensures that 100% of the fertiliser is where the crop needs it.
Concerned with the soil structure damage associated with growing potatoes, so since 2012 we have not let any ground for this purpose.
In a further attempt to minimise damage to soils we have introduced minimum tillage cultivation as much as possible through the crop rotation. This greatly improves soil structure and drainage, and has the added advantage of being able to travel on the fields earlier in the season which in turn improves timeliness.
All 93 fields on the estate are GPS soil sampled every 4 years to produce nutrient maps for P, K, pH, Mg, Soil Type, Organic Matter and full broad spectrum trace element analysis
Both the Combine and Forage Harvester have full telematics sending instant data back to the office during harvest and producing Yield, Moisture and dry matter maps
These maps, can then be used to create variable rate job sheets for both seed and fertiliser
Both solid and liquid digestate is precision applied throughout the estate in an attempt to build soil health and reduce the requirements for inorganic fertiliser
Digestate is analysed on site to ensure we always know what nutrients are being applied through the 16m boom tanker