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Precision farming technology uptake barriers identified

22 September 2016

Barriers to the adoption and development of precision farming technologies within the cereals and oilseeds sector have been identified in an AHDB review. Looking at the past, present and future of precision agriculture (PA), the in-house review was conducted to identify ways to improve the uptake of precision farming technology in the UK. The review culminated in several key recommendations for further work, including activities targeted at increasing the reliability and ease of use of precision farming technologies, and improving the level of quality guidance to help growers make more informed investment decisions.

Why review precision agriculture?

The review was conducted as part of the AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Investing in Innovation Research & Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2015–2020. The strategy identified that the targeted use of crop inputs was essential for the future of cereals and oilseeds production but the costs and benefits of precision technologies were poorly understood and needed to be assessed. Prior to issuing calls for research on topics of strategic interest, AHDB staff conduct reviews to shape the requirements for levy investment.

Dr Sajjad Awan, who led the latest review, said: “PA has the potential to address many environmental, economic and public pressures on arable farming.  Via the targeting of resources, PA can help increase yields, reduce costs or do both at the same time. Such approaches can make a positive contribution to sustainable intensification.”

Current success and future opportunities

The review cites automatic steering systems, fuelled by advances in global navigation satellite systems, as the most successful PA application on arable land to date, with an associated increase in the adoption of Controlled Traffic Farming.

Emerging sensor technology and access to historical and new datasets were also cited as helping to extend PA into Variable Rate Technology.

Although there has been an enormous increase in PA technology available to farmers, adoption was found to be less than expected.

Dr Sajjad Awan continued: “One of the main uptake barriers facing PA is a lack of understanding about what technology is available and, importantly, which options could make a profitable difference.  The provision of more quality guidance and advice would make a big difference to help growers assess, cost out and integrate PA approaches within their arable businesses.” The review findings will be used by AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds to guide levy-investment decisions. Research Review No. 87 – A review of the past, present and future of precision agriculture in the UK – is available to download via

From: AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds

Source: Farming Futures

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