Technology and Knowledge – Stuart Hill, Andrew Goodinson – South East Farmer

Farm business profitability and environmental sustainability will become increasingly critical as we move through the next decade of change and uncertainty, requiring resource and a new management approach, says agronomy firm Hutchinsons.

This means that the current agronomist and grower relationship will need to evolve if these challenges are to be met. Utilising technology will be a significant part of this, recognises Stuart Hill, head of technology and innovation at Hutchinsons.

“We are being exposed to a plethora of technologies such as data analytics, climate, machine learning sensors, monitoring, detection systems, autonomy and robotics. However, there is a need to evaluate which technologies are relevant and ultimately increase productivity and profitability, as well as efficiency, both for the grower and the agronomist,” said Stuart.

Stuart Hill HelixFarm

The Hutchinsons Helix project aims to do just this and is the first of its kind in the UK; Helix is a unique research project looking at how technologies can be successfully linked with knowledge to deliver a greater level of advice by agronomists to farm businesses.

Focussing on key areas of innovation and technology the Helix project will act as a central research hub bringing together all aspects of crop production through to field data and input measurements. This will include sensors and prediction software, soil management and analysis, environmental aspects such as surveillance and predictive systems, nutrition, input and new trait technologies will be assessed and developed within the Helix project.

“Growers and agronomists want simplicity, so linking of technologies and knowledge will lead to decision making through a one hub system approach,” Stuart continued.
The national Helix Technology Development Farm is being hosted courtesy of Andrew and William Pitts of JW Pitts & Sons located at Mears Ashby and Whiston in Northamptonshire.

A recent Hutchinsons grower survey identified the key concerns for farming businesses over the next 10 years. Conducted by Hutchinsons agronomists, including Andrew Goodinson from Herefordshire, respondents identified that their main business challenges over the next 10 years would be profitability, agronomics, staffing and technology.