In my last blog post I mentioned that I was in the UK preparing for the Cereals Show and having a bit of trouble with my sleep. Since then, the Cereals Show has come and gone and I have been able to catch up on my sleep. The show provided a great opportunity to talk with some UK farmers about their operations and to spend time with the staff from Precise-Solutions, the Ag Leader distributor in the UK.
Precise-Solutions is based near Carlisle in the northern part of England and has been an Ag Leader distributor in the UK since 2001. The business was founded by Derek Johnston and is currently owned by Derek and his two brothers Stephen and Ewan. Derek started out using Ag Leader equipment on their family farm before becoming a distributor.
“I bought a yield monitor from Ag Leader to use on our farm. Once I got the yield monitor my neighbors started asking if I could get one for them. One thing led to another and I wound up in the precision agriculture business,” states Derek Johnston. Derek is still active in the family farm and his experience as a farmer comes in handy when talking with farmers about precision agriculture. “Since I am a farmer and use precision agriculture on my farm, I understand what other farmers want to accomplish with the technology,” continues Johnston. “We use OptRx sensors on our farm for gathering information throughout the year. We share this information with other farmers to help them understand how the sensors can help them on their farm,” Precise-Solutions offers the complete range of Ag Leader products in the UK through a growing network of dealers and OEM partners.
The Cereals Show is one of the UK’s largest agricultural shows with stands covering over 64 hectares (158 acres) and 10 hectares (25.7 acres) of demonstration plots. The show is actually two shows in one, with the Spray and Sprayers event being held as part of the show (think Farm Progress Show and MAGIE combined). Sprays and Sprayers is an area of the show where sprayer manufacturers showcase their equipment and do live demos on the show grounds. In the past, Spray and Sprayers was a separate show but has since been combined with Cereals to create an all-in-one agricultural show.
The one thing about shows in Europe that always amazes me is the amount of different equipment that is on display. Cereals is no exception. While there is the traditional tractor and combine displays, some of the more interesting equipment can be found elsewhere. From the different sprayers on display, to the vast amount of tillage equipment, to the vegetable machinery Cereals definitely has something for every one.
With application being such a big focus of the show it is no surprise that the majority of interest for precision agriculture products was also related to application. Farmers were interested in application control, variable rate, boom section control, boom height control and steering. However, one of the technologies asked about most was crop sensors. This is not a complete surprise as crop sensors have been available in the UK market for a long time but the popularity is increasing as precision farming manufacturers are starting to integrate the technology into their displays and the sensors can be used in conjunction with other technologies such as variable rate and steering.
Wheat crops in the UK can get up to eight different applications in a year. Using crop sensors during these applications for both scanning and on-the-go variable rate application is extremely valuable. Scanning the crop provides information on the health of the crop while using the sensors for on-the-go variable rate provides more efficient use of nitrogen. As Paul Rose mentioned, Ag Leader is conducting field trials throughout Europe with the OptRx crop sensor and the local farmers in the UK are anxious for the results. I can assure everyone as soon as the season wraps up, we’ll share the results!
The Cereals Show was a success and I want to thank Precise-Solutions for inviting the Ag Leader staff to help with the show. It is always good to talk with the local farmers about precision agriculture when visiting different countries.
Parting Shot: Since it is the UK, it does rain a lot and things can get muddy. Next trip we will be better prepared with a new rental car we found at the show.