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07 Dec 2021

Scottish potato grower reduces seed stock without impact yield

Scottish potato grower reduces seed stock without impact yield

A SCOTTISH potato grower is using the latest digital technology to help reduce seed input costs, improve marketable yield, and increase profitability.

Sean Liddell manages just under 1,000 acres of potatoes on land near Duns in the Scottish borders and by using mobile app Crop4Sight, he is able to reduce his input seed requirement by as much as 25 per cent whilst maintaining saleable yields.

Mr Liddell started using Crop4sight in his potato growing business around three years ago to get greater insight into the development of his crops and help him to make better management decisions.

Since then, he has achieved a number of efficiencies including significantly reducing the number of yield digs he has to carry out, saving time and work during the growing season.

Mr Liddell said: “I’ve been using Crop4sight for a while now and the data it produces is invaluable for forecasting crop development.

“One of the most interesting things to come out of last season was that my seed rate, while good, wasn’t optimal. By inputting the relevant data into the app, I was able to identify areas of improvement and efficiency, and that will certainly be influencing what I will do for the forthcoming growing season.”

Mr Liddell added another benefit is helping him meet the tight size specifications for salad potatoes.

He said: “This year we’re growing around 245 acres of salad potatoes and the rest is maincrop varieties.

“Early on, we realised one of the major benefits of Crop4sight was getting early insight into the crop’s yield potential and when the largest proportion of the crop was up to size.

“This really helped in deciding the best burndown date. Sometimes this can mean leaving the crop a bit longer than yield digs suggests, which can feel counterintuitive, but it means more of the crop meeting the size requirements and therefore a greater saleable yield.

“Of course, leave them too long and they’ll keep growing – it’s easy to get oversized potatoes. But Crop4Sight is an accurate visual aid to help you make the right decision at the right time and it has had a positive effect for us.”

Crop4Sight accurately predicts the crop’s development from first emergence, enabling growers to better plan crop inputs, labour, burndown, irrigation, and storage.

It also enables farmers to benchmark their crops against other UK growers of the same variety and manage customer expectations around size fractions, quality, and contract fulfilment.

Crop4sight recently added an irrigation module that Mr Liddell has been trialling. It’s live water management system enables growers to produce an irrigation schedule as often as required, allowing them to react immediately to changes in weather conditions.

This helps to ensure growers apply the optimum volume of water for crop development.

“It produces live updates by the hour if needed,”

“This is invaluable for accurately plotting your irrigation schedule” Mr Liddell added.

“Overall, using Crop4sight has brought a lot of efficiencies and other benefits to the business, but it is only as good as the data you put in. If you take the time to do this, you’ll get accurate outputs.”

Paul Coleman, Managing Director of Crop4Sight, said that Sean’s experience was being mirrored by many growers who were embracing this digital technology in their businesses.

He said: “Digital technology is starting to revolutionise agriculture and bring new efficiencies to businesses that have not been previously possible.

“With Crop4Sight, we wanted to create a powerful tool that used data and modelling to provide highly accurate crop forecasting to help agronomists and professional potato growers become more efficient.

“Crop4sight provides total transparency across a crop, to the grower, the agronomist and, critically, the client, meaning the best management decisions can be made and the best saleable yield achieved.

“Not only does this help streamline the grower’s business by optimising inputs, labour and storage, it enables them to better meet customer requirements to build robust, long-term relationships.”

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