Farmer Andrew Ward looks to the future

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Andrew Ward MBE, Roy Ward (Farms) Ltd, Leadenham, Lincolnshire will be at this year’s Crop Tec event and will be talking about what technology he will be adopting on farm over the next five years, future R&D and why you should be attending this year’s event

Short-term (next 5 years) using drones and aerial imagery to identify weeds and diseases offers real opportunities. Black-grass mapping services are already available, but this needs to be taken to another level to develop systems that provide more notice of potential problems and allow for timelier, targeted treatments. This may pave the way for spot spraying with drones, or use data on conventional sprayers to target problem areas.

Longer-term “mechanical technology” such as driverless tractors, precision drills and mechanical weeding will come to the fore. However, there are still massive issues with the compatibility of precision farming systems across manufacturers.

Addressing this compatibility issue must be a priority if farmers are to benefit from precision technology. We need an industry standard so everyone can be confident equipment from different manufacturers will work together.

Another area for attention is the interpretation of the data collected on farms, such as yield maps, soil analysis, crop nutrition and fertiliser maps. We can collect masses of data, but the industry is still very poor in interpreting this information.

There are real opportunities to improve our understanding of the interactions between plants, soil, nutrition and the changing weather to improve productivity. I’d like to see AHDB lead this.

CropTec provides an opportunity to talk directly to manufacturers, not local dealers or distributors. These people know their products inside out.

All the big names are there, plus some excellent, knowledgeable speakers are lined up in the seminars.

Furthermore, it’s indoors at a quieter time of year, so well worth a visit.

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