As extreme conditions seem to be getting more frequent, tools that enable growers to mitigate the impacts within the growing season will be invaluable. Crop4Sight is a digital product for potato growers that uses imaging via the camera-phone and Bluetooth enabled scales to allow farmers to benchmark crop development and make interventions to improve the marketable size yield. The benefits will be discussed in the Virtual Innovation Hub.
Paul Coleman of Crop4Sight explains: “Our analysis shows there is considerable scope for increasing saleable yield through better control and understanding of tuber populations. If the crop is performing differently to that intended then understanding optimum yield potentials and crop value increases is key to making the greatest financial return.
“For example, Jelly is a high yielding variety of potato for pre-pack and chips. In the 2019 season the median tuber population was 15% down on the long-term average, This was caused by a late planting seed crop season in 2018 followed by an early planting main crop season in 2019, meaning the seed was chronologically young. However, crop planning didn’t account for this so stem populations – an indication of the size and quantity of tubers – were lower than required.
“If growers had taken these factors into account – the youth of the seed and the early planting – and increased the seed rate, this impact would have been reduced and saleable yield maintained.” Crop4Sight’s dynamic seed calculator takes account of this as well as the target yield and tuber size required.
Benchmarking yields for potato profit
Crop4Sight offers a ‘toolbox’ of insights from emergence, stem numbers, tuber numbers, scab control timing, ground cover benchmarking and optimum size yields that allow in-season benchmarking of crop planning and development to support decision-making. Crop4Sight is able to now forecast the date of likely dormancy break using the date of emergence for many varieties.
Growers simply record seed stock and crop information such as planting, emergence, canopy (via image analysis) and yield samples (via Bluetooth scales) within the app, and the system benchmarks each growth stage and forecasts the next crop milestone. By providing an update on performance through the insights and forecasts, potato growers can improve the critical selection and timing of crop burn downs. Data shows that even for well managed crops there is opportunity to increase saleable yield by thousands of pounds and Crop4Sight can help growers to realise this.
Within the Virtual Innovation Hub Crop4Sight will be demonstrating the web and app elements of the product via laptop and iPad and discussing the role of plant physiology and agronomy in agriculture.