Farmers Invited To Session On New Technology

Scilly’s farmers will learn how they can embrace technology to increase yields, although there’s some scepticism that approaches used on the mainland can easily transfer to our islands’ farms.

English Nature is hosting the free event to outline, “farming more precisely.”

The approach, which is growing in popularity, uses GPS location plotting and yield monitors to measure output within each part of a field.

Computer-driven equipment can change the rate at which fertilizers, seed and other inputs are used, and subtle changes can be made based on the needs of the soil and crop in a particular portion of a field.

Emma Heller is Soils for Profit Adviser for Scilly and Cornwall. She says the session will discuss the unique issues faced in Scilly and explore practical ways of working that would benefit farmers and the local environment in the future.

The approach has found fans on larger scale agriculture businesses.

In Scilly, Keith Hale of Tremelethen Farm says he welcomes the initiative. Keith says Scilly has been dominated by monoculture, which can deplete the level of nutrients in the soil unless addressed.

But Ben Julian of Churchtown Farm on St Martin’s, thinks circumstances in Scilly are “very unique” and techniques such as precision farming with GPS are really more for the East Anglian ‘Barley Barons’ with 100-acre fields.

Ben is planning to attend the session, saying, “it is certainly not going to hurt,” but he thinks the problem isn’t the overuse of fertiliser, which he says is way too expensive to waste here.

Ben thinks the issue is reducing the cost of freight for things such as lime for the soil to ensure that farmers can grow quality crops.

The meeting will be held at The Mermaid from 9.15am to 12.30am on the 26th April.