Helix Projects

The Helix project aligns new and old technologies, evolving and developing them to improve crop management decisions.

Below are links to some of the project areas we are currently focused on, though we are also involved in a number of other long term projects and collaborative research.

Nutrition and matching plant and soil health will be an integral part of what we deliver in future. This project aims to investigate best practice alongside developing tools to support our approach. Soil and tissue testing are challenging and time-consuming processes. The nutrition project aims to simplify decision making by enabling live analysis alongside developing knowledge.

What will I see?

New technology to analyse soils for major and minor nutrients in a non-invasive, consistent approach – TerraMap.

What’s the benefit to me as a grower?

  • Accurate and bespoke targeting of advice and nutrition ensured through rapid and broad non-invasive soil testing aligned to precision practices.
  • Ultimately greater efficiency and higher average field yield.

Predict & Justify will review risk analysis and prediction of pests, disease, crop growth and lodging risk – looking to determine the real-world benefits of accurate crop growth monitoring. This will help with identification and understanding of where risk is and to help justify subsequent decision making.

What will I see?

The use of climate and pest models to bring a more farm specific threshold level for proactively determining timing and justification of inputs and whether they are necessary. An example in this area is BYDV in cereals following the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

What’s the benefit to me as a grower?

  • An evidenced based justification for the use of crop protection products.
  • Accuracy of timing and optimising product efficacy.
  • Ultimately greater justification will be a significant focus for the industry in future utilising seamless, automated and historical evidence.

Sustainability should encapsulate the whole farm business, protecting valuable resources and the profitability of the farm.

As the environment and biodiversity become ever more important to policy decision making, we are testing how growers will be able to deliver this within an integrated farming system.

The overall aim is for farms to build up and maintain a thriving ecosystem of plants and wildlife, and that they use the farm’s natural resources more sustainably and efficiently.

What will I see?

We are currently testing and developing the technology to accurately detect pollinator-suitable flower species on farm, so that they can be mapped in Omnia. In the future these maps could be used to target areas in need of improvement and, with Omnia’s field performance maps, to identify the areas suited for conversion to habitat.

The initial rounds of aerial imagery have already been obtained, and ground-truthing of the different flower species has been carried out within the margins.

What’s the benefit to me as a grower?

  • Improve overall profitability by removing consistently poor performing areas from production.
  • Utilising removed areas for a broader farm habitat.
  • Evidence of  habitat and stewardship management.
  • Increased pollinator & beneficial species populations.

Traits – with new breeding techniques on the horizon there is a need to understand how to develop them to maximise their benefit on your farm.

As a part of Integrated Crop Management, trait choices will not only be made based on output. With the narrowing range of chemistry in some areas new genetic traits will play a key part in future pest and disease management programmes.

What will I see?

Examples of current trait technology and our approach to their development and commercialisation.

Insights from our trials, with explanations of what management changes were needed to make to get the most value from new traits, and why.

What’s the benefit to me as a grower?

  • Utilising trait pest management to optimise output.
  • Greater efficiency and more consistent output on more difficult soil types
  • Managing biomass differences for greater output

Optimising Economic Output looks at how technology can be used to improve economic output from a farm and field-scale basis.
Aiming to improve our ability to evaluate yield and cost of production and to make assessing the parameters of yield easier, this project looks to help guide input management decision making.

What will I see?

We are taking yield mapping to the next level, using year-on-year data to build up a picture within Omnia, allowing us to identify areas that yield consistently well or poorly. This has allowed us to make management decisions such as taking land out of production or incorporating this information within a variable rate drilling plan.

Now, the Helix project is testing whether this is the correct approach.

Would it be better, for example, to look at farming more closely to soil zones and to manage the crop potential that equates to that zone? This would include managing seed rates by each zone’s potential rather than just trying to adjust seed rates to ensure an even plant establishment across the entire field.

What’s the benefit to me as a grower?

  • Targeted management of individual soil zones to improve soil health and crop potential
  • Greater efficiency of variable rate applications through more specific targeting
  • The ability to work every part of the field to its full potential, for greatly improved yields