It is an achievement made possible with the recent purchase of an RO-XL EDW fertiliser spreader with GEOCONTROL, and represents the farm’s first step on the precision farming ladder.
“I was a little skeptical about automatic section and stop/start headland control on a fertiliser spreader, but its accuracy has created savings of around five per cent on what was an annual fertiliser bill of £60,000,” explains Nick Hood.
Cropping at Heath Farm comprises sugar beet, potatoes, oilseed rape, winter wheat, spring and winter barley and lettuces grown on 680ha using a 24m tramline system. The farm also rears a 100-strong herd of pedigree South Devon cattle.
“With small fields and awkwardly-shaped headlands, the GEOSPREAD system allows us to work into wedges as it automatically alters spread width, reducing overlaps and ultimately saves fertiliser and money,” he says. “We’ve eliminated scorching and lodging too.”
Fitted with hopper extensions, the spreader holds four, 600kg bags, and has proved to be an easy spreader to set up and use.
“Calibration which is done automatically and continuously, is particularly impressive, and saves us a lot of time when switching between different nitrogen products.”
Satisfied that the spreader is automatically taking care of maintaining the correct application rate, Mr Hood reckons the next step will be to add auto steering when the tractor is changed.
“Auto-steering, as the first step onto the precision farming ladder, would not reap enough benefits on its own. But it does seem to be the next logical step to complement the new spreader’s capabilities,” he says.
“I’m convinced that GEOSPREAD has given us a visible and practical use of precision farming technology.”
14th May 2014