SoilEssentials Ltd

Hilton of Fern, By Brechin,

Angus, DD9 6SB

t: +44 (0)1356 650459

enquiries@soilessentials.com

Scots precision farming company reaches milestone

Jim, who attended college in Aberdeen, said: “It used to really wind me up that, in the same field, I could be harvesting a fantastic crop while 60ft away in the same row, the crop was terrible. I’d be making money on the good crop and a few minutes later losing it on the bad crop.”

Despite the whole field having had the same treatment there were obvious differences. The question was why? Many questions and conversations later, he introduced GPS linked soil sampling.

“At that point GPS was just becoming affordable for agricultural applications, there was no plug and play system in those days. The first step was to put a yield monitor on the combine then beg, steal and borrow a GPS receiver (GPS was first unveiled in the early 1990s and became the technology trigger which allowed so much to happen). Using the yield maps and taking soil samples I set out to determine what exactly was the cause of the yield limiting factors and more importantly what I could do about it,” said Jim, 54.

By the law of unintended consequences he was able to combine this technology to make it possible to see the variability and begin the process of understanding it and in turn, better manage the land.

“Making yield maps of the cereal crops told us how good the good bits were and how bad the bad bits were so gave us some numbers to go on. By having a map meant it was easy to go back to the bad areas and start doing things to remedy this,” said Jim.

“In my area, for example I discovered there was an area of low PH which we rectified by manually applying lime. That worked out for about 30-40% of the low yielding areas, and I discovered that in general, high-yielding areas tended to have lower P&K, while low-yielding areas had high P&K.

“The natural reaction to poor areas is to stick on more fertiliser, but that would have been the wrong thing to do as you first have to identify why the crop is poor. Now we understand it, it makes perfect sense and we now fix what we can (low pH, compaction, drains, rabbit damage) and then we try and lower the cost of growing the crop on the areas where we can’t increase yield due to the soil type, slope or aspect. Every field is different but mapping means you’re putting the right amount on at the right place.”

A chance meeting at Scottish Agronomy and a shared interest for yield mapping brought Jim and Robert Ramsay together and in the following weeks and months it became clear to them that interest in precision agriculture was increasing and it was apparent there was a real business opportunity in their midst.

It was the Royal Highland Show in June 2000 that acted as the initial launchpad for their newly created precision agriculture company, SoilEssentials, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. Both Jim and Robert run their own working farms but have a firm passion for all that is precision. With a heritage in farming practices, the ability to use and test their innovative products in-situ, is still so important.

The firm now employs 18 staff, with the majority based at the head office at the foot of the Angus Glens at Hilton of Fern. This is further supported by an area sales manager in the Borders. As the Trimble® designated authorised dealers for Northern UK, SoilEssentials blend this with a complementary portfolio of products and services of their own.

“It’s taken a few years to get a momentum behind the company as anything related to new technology always takes longer than you think,” said Jim who is married to Gillian. “But today using technology and hi-tech equipment on the farm is becoming normal – it’s the mobile revolution which has driven it.

“The fundamentals of agriculture don’t change. When farming was all manpower and horses, we were much more in tune with where soil textures changed, where crops yielded well and where a particular weed was a problem.

“But with the drive towards ever bigger farms and machines, and the amalgamation of smaller fields into one larger one, the crop and soil variation, although still there, was largely ignored. Now, with precision agriculture, we can get the best of both worlds. We can keep the efficiency of large machines, but manage crops and soils at the appropriate level of detail.”

The company now has three main teams. Agronomy, with soil sampling, area measuring and mapping (EssentialsMap Version 2 has been newly released), and a brand new product – EssentialsAnalysis – where SoilEssentials can create yield maps from historical data to assist growers in improving crop performance, Machine Control – with Trimble® Agriculture kit and SoilEssentials’ complementary products such as EssentialsNet (the largest privately owned RTK correction service in the UK) and EssentialsRootYield (winner of an RHASS Technical Innovation Silver Award this year) and their third division, Software Development – the in-house team of IT professionals taking forward projects to further push the boundaries of possibilities and introduce new platforms to enhance the farmer’s life and their profitability.

“What we look for is a need in the market then try to fill it. We employ software engineers who build cloud-based software. One is EssentialsMap, which allows customers to log on to a website and see maps of their fields, then create application maps. In the not to distant future, farmers, having logged on to a website will be able to use satellite technology from the European Space Agency and Nasa, plus a UAV professional drone, to fly over their fields and zoom in really closely to see what is happening to their crops. This is going to be demonstrated next year before going live in a project funded by the European Space Agency.”

Always ready to challenge themselves, SoilEssentials, as agricultural innovators, will continue to develop and deliver high quality, fit-for-purpose products and services in the field of precision farming. With the industry forever changing and new technologies emerging, it has its eye on the future and will continue with their goal of making life simpler for the farmer. Here’s to the next 15 years.

SoilEssentials will host precision agriculture training days in the near future. Those interested are invited to email details to: enquiries@soilessentials.com

Contact: 01356 650459 www.soilessentials.com/ www.essentialsnet.co.uk

 

   News

The James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, is currently undertaking a study of ?farmer adaptation and global engagement? in Angus and Skye/Lochalsh.

To kick off the Summer Show season we're giving you the opportunity to enter our competition to 'Win the Gin!' We want to showcase precision agriculture at its best, so looking for images that best illustrates farming operations through the seasons with your Trimble Agriculture kit.

A consortium of partners both academic and industry are developing a unique test to measure soil quality, linking the nematode populations and communities with nutrient, texture, structure and other key soil attributes. This test will identify long-term soil health problems across fields, problems which could be improved to give greater crop yields.

Edinburgh is hosting the 11th ECPA (European Conference on Precision Agriculture) this summer, 20 years since it was first held in the UK. This promises to be the world's premier precision agriculture event in 2017.

Celebrations were in order with another prestigious accolade at the Scottish Rural Awards last Thursday evening.

Our Managing Director Jim Wilson is currently in New Zealand covering both islands over the course of his 3-week visit.

Book your free place at the Valuing your Soils: Benefits of Precision Agriculture is a workshop being held at director Robert Ramsay's farm - West Mains of Kinblethmont - on 23 February.

Read our current edition of EssentialsNews here.

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It was announced today that SoilEssentials have made the shortlist, one of three Angus companies, in the Rural Business Category of The Courier Business Awards 2016.

SoilEssentials Ltd, the leading, award-winning, Scottish precision agriculture specialists based at Hilton of Fern, near Brechin in Angus ran a competition at The Royal Highland Show this year for one lucky participant to win a precision agriculture guidance and steering system, courtesy of global agriculture specialists, Trimble.

Our customer - Douglas Stephen, Crop Services (Scotland) Ltd - features in the newly released July edition of Farmer's Guide this week. An interesting read on pages 36-40.

Make stand 232 a must-see for anyone interested in precision agriculture. As well as a range of Trimble products and the complementary range of SoilEssentials' own portfolio, the company are launching the next phase of their popular EssentialsMap product. This development project which is co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), supported by Deimos Space UK and integrates drone solutions by G2Way. EssentialsMap is a customised precision ag portal for agronomists and farmers, giving access to precision ag data to manage your business and customers more effectively.

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Make a date in your diary for the next LEAF Technical Day on Thursday 9 June at the James Hutton Institute's Balruddery Farm, Invergowrie, DD2 5LJ. Free entry, food and refreshments will be served.

Trade-up your screen with Trimble and take advantage of great deals

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Here is a link to our latest newsletter with a seasonal flavour.

Join us at LAMMA'16 on 20th and 21st January for our first Show of the New Year.

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Third year agriculture students from SRUC in Aberdeen descended on Sales Director Robert Ramsay's farm at West Mains of Kinblethmont this week.

Autumn will always be a special time of year for Jim Wilson who farms at Hilton of Fern, near Brechin. For it was while he was sitting on his combine harvester in the autumn of 1996 and looking out over the field, that he came up with the idea for a new business.

Today, the last day of September, SoilEssentials welcomed 18 Danish agricultural advisers, led by Mr Ivar Ravn, Director of the Department of Cereals at SEGES (merger of the former Knowledge Centre for Agriculture and the Danish Pig Research Centre), to Hilton of Fern.

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Cutting edge farming technology and research will be showcased in Edinburgh at the 11th European Conference on Precision Agriculture in July 2017. Scotland's Rural College, the British Society for Animal Science and SoilEssentials Ltd worked together to ensure the capital city was the chosen venue and will now collaborate on organising the event itself.

One thing we like to do here at SoilEssentials is talk Precision Ag - and that's exactly what we did with a tailored training day for SRUC/SAC Consulting at Robert's farm at West Mains of Kinblethmont.

SoilEssentials were delighted to receive a Silver Award from the The Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland at the recent Royal Highland Show

It was harvest time in the late 1990?s and Jim Wilson was on the combine harvester while realising the yield in that particular field was not consistent throughout. The field had had the same treatment overall, yet there were obvious differences.

Join over 25,000 farmers, agronomists and industry suppliers at Cereals 2015, the industry's leading technical event and discover the latest arable innovations, information and insight.

We are proud to be celebrating our 15th anniversary and look forward to welcoming friends, customers - existing and new, to our stand again.

For a limited time we are offering this popular guidance display at this special price which includes the upgraded AG15 antenna and suction cup. Enter the world of precision agriculture easily and affordably with this great system for basic guidance to make your farming operations easier in any season.

We are seeking an experienced, enthusiastic and versatile individual to join our technical department within the role of FIELD SERVICE TECHNICIAN.

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We are delighted to announce the appointment of Manterra as a dealer of Trimble and SoilEssentials precision farming equipment in the Yorkshire area and are excited about the prospect which will see Manterra offering some real, local focus and high level solution expertise.

Book your sampling now, don't leave it too late and jeopardise your forthcoming yields.

Our own comfy stand

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Jim is speaking and exhibiting at this event today.

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Jim and Phil and maybe more will be manning the stand. This show could be quite exciting, we have some new things to show you.

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Society of the Chemical Industry Conference Bracknell

Book your soil sampling now - Know your land and save on unnecessary inputs!

As part of a British trade delegation Jim is currently visiting China.

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Yorkshire Office Now Open.

There is still time to contact us if you are thinking about a Trimble autopilot system for this coming harvest.

Lamma Show

Precision farming specialist Soilessentials has launched EssentialsNet, a GPS correction service which will enable farmers to enjoy the benefits of increased fieldwork accuracy from RTK guidance without the need for their own base station.

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Soilessentials becomes Northern UK Trimble Dealer.

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