Soil and water focus for Smart-AKIS workshop

Published: 26 July, 2017

“Soil underpins the vast majority of agribusinesses in the UK,” says Professor Jane Rickson of Cranfield University’s Soil and AgriFood Institute which is hosting the next Smart-AKIS  workshop. There will be a discussion of the technology available for improving soil and water management.

The technology is underpinned by science.

Jane continues: “Historically, soil surveys were time-consuming and costly. Now, field sensors are increasingly used to monitor soil properties such as nutrients, bulk density/compaction and moisture content over space and time.

“Results can inform better targeting of fertilisers, tillage and irrigation, leading to more efficient use of resources and reduction in input costs.

“Soil structure can also be measured using novel applications of CT and X-ray scanning.

‘Smart agriculture’ for soil health

Improving soil and water management is the focus at Smart-AKIS event which features presentations by scientists and technology developers and workshop sessions to explore how ‘smart agriculture’ can improve soil health, optimise water use efficiency and the practical aspects of incorporating these technologies.

Cranfield University’s latest research

Research by Professor Jane Rickson, Dr Rob Simmons and other members of Cranfield University’s Soil and AgriFood Institute will be presented.

Cranfield is using ‘big data’, from the AHDB Horticulture funded ‘Soil Management Information System’ project. Large datasets from horticultural growers are combined with scientific evidence from previous research to identify patterns in the data to inform future soil management decisions.

“The University has developed world-leading digital models that can predict soil properties and their functions from other environmental data. The models outputs are then tested with rapidly developing technologies such as GIS and remote sensing, as well as more traditional ground-truthing. Technologies using GPS can also help design field engineering structures used for erosion and runoff control, such as grassed waterways.”

Tech companies to present

The researchers will present alongside a number of agri-tech companies, including Dr Simmon’s Soil-for-life. The start-up, led by CEO Jonathan Tole, was a finalist at Agri-Tech East’s 2017

Soil-for-Life - Jonathan Tole at GROW 2017

Soil-for-life’s Jonathan Tole at GROW 2017

GROW business plan competition – it is helping farmers to use ‘big data’ throughout the agrifood value chain to improve farm productivity.

Other companies in attendance will include Delta-T Devices, NIAB, Precision Decisions and Soil Moisture Sense.

“I’m hoping to meet people who are interested in monitoring and control, or who are looking to add our soil sensors to their systems, and to kick start collaboration,” says Tony Peloe, Export Sales & Business Development Manager at Delta-T Devices, specialists in soil moisture sensors.

“I will give an update about developments in our soil moisture range and our involvement in the WET (Water Efficient Technologies) Centre based at East Malling Research where our products are combined to achieve precision irrigation for soft fruit production.”

The Smarter Farming for Soils Heath and Water Management meeting will take place at Cranfield University on the 14th of September 2017. To register for this free event, please click here.