September 2017 saw the 20thanniversary for Farm Image, part of Kent-based Austin Contract Services Group who, over the past two decades, have provided agricultural services including soil sampling and lime spreading for farmers across the South East.
Since 1997, Farm Image has grown from solely offering soil pH analysis to today providing the most accurate techniques for obtaining a whole portfolio of useful soil data as well as offering a unique solution for each client.
The Farm Image team are of the strong ethos that profitability in farming heavily relies on making the most of your every hectare which in turn, is dependent on truly knowing your soil.
SoilSmart is the division of Farm Image that offers a range of sampling and analysis packages tailored to suit you and your business with no hidden costs or contracts. In doing so, Farm Image pride themselves in remaining a team that can provide an honest and personal service tailored to each and every one of their customers.
Whilst still offering the standard soil sampling techniques to give results for pH, P, K and Mg, Farm Image have expanded their SoilSmart range to include Precision Sampling and Smart Scanning.
As opposed to simply taking samples in a ‘W’ pattern across a field, Precision Sampling uses GPS technology to systematically sample a field, taking 16 cores from every hectare or a specific number of samples per hectare at the request of the farmer. As a result, this technique provides a far more accurate insight into unique field environments and allows for the formation of Farm Image Precision Maps (as depicted) clearly showing field zones for each field property- pH, P, K and Mg.
However, in 2017, Farm Image began researching further into the ways in which soil can be analysed and how that may be translated into precision farming techniques such as variable rate seeding and fertiliser application. As a result, September’s anniversary celebrations sees the launch of SoilSmart’s Smart Scanner service using the latest in-field scanning equipment.
Farm Image, having invested in the technology to offer soil data analysis at an unbeatable rate of samples per hectare as well as adding analysis of Organic Matter, Soil Texture (Electrical Conductivity) and Topography to their precision packages.
Amy Bradley, Marketing Manager at Farm Image, explains that ‘the Farm Image Smart Scanner is able to take 200 readings per hectare and form on-the-go field maps via an on-board tablet, to the highest accuracy for pH, Organic Matter, Soil Texture and Topography, all of which drastically affect water holding capacity and nutrient availability for crops.’
“We were the first British company to import a U3 soil scanner from Veris Technologies” remembered Amy. “It came straight off the plane at Heathrow and went to the 2017 Cereals show in Lincolnshire where it turned a lot of heads.” “Since then, we have been busy taking the service from farm to farm across the UK showing farmers the real potential in farming precisely for profitability”.
The team at Farm Image are keen to make it clear to their customers how the biggest benefit of the Smart Scanner service is how it translates into huge money savings by allowing farmers to be more targeted with drilling as well as product application. The advantage of the Smart Scanner mapping compared to grid sampling is that soil is not laid out in neat squares, there is variability within most 1Ha grids, and modern farming equipment has the ability to change rates multiple times within each 1ha grid, and meet the soil’s needs more accurately.