Tim Michie is a Senior Rural Surveyor at land, property and business consultancy, George F. White. Tim has been involved in the rural sector for most of his life; he joined George F. White as a graduate in 2011 and has recently been appointed as a senior member at the firm.
Technological developments have really helped to improve efficiency across the UK agriculture sector and make the most of resources at a time where cashflow is stretched, and long-term forecasting is challenging. A Geographic Information System (GIS), is designed to store, analyse, manage, and present a variety of geo-spatial data. It is a technology used across many industries including farming, to increase productivity, improve decision-making and reduce costs.
For the farming industry, GIS technology has many benefits that can take guesswork out of production and enable farmers to manage their land much more effectively and, critically, get the most out of it to increase profits and support growth.
One huge advantage that GIS technology provides to farmers is that it enables them to farm very precisely. For example, every field is different and the levels of nitrogen, seed spread, amount of fertiliser, and yields can vary greatly. With GIS mapping, you can interweave datasets such as nitrate vulnerable zones, drainage pathways, fertiliser, crop and weed plans together to develop a strategic plan that can monitor and manage the health of your fields, the strength of your crops, and how best to treat them. This is because the technology can map these details and create findings that inform farmers about differences in soil types, weather impacts such as too much or too little sunlight, and drainage levels, to maximise crop production.
Another big plus point is that you can view all of this information on your phone so, if you’re out in the field drilling and need to check where, for example, your specific Countryside Stewardship Options are, so that you know where to drill to avoid any infringement of Natural England regulations and consequential penalties, you can do so, instantly. To give another example, if a spray contractor is coming out to spray your crops, you can refer the GIS data across to quickly identify boundaries, saving time and money in the prevention of over-spraying.
The benefits of using GIS technology are wide ranging and provide a good opportunity to help improve the overall function of a farm business. We are talking to farmers now about the role it plays in farming and how it can help them ensure their land and crops are as healthy as possible, to maximise output that can help increase their bottom line. With GIS, you have the ability to diagnose and classify any issues or problems and carry out interpretation, analysis and predictions, which can help farmers work smarter and run their business better.
For more details on GIS mapping and how it can work for your farm business, please contact Tim Michie on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01665 511992.
Farmers are being advised to take advantage of DEFRA’s £40 million rural grant. The new Countryside Productivity scheme is for farm technology and equipment investment that can help livestock, dairy, arable and horticultural farmers to improve farming productivity so that they can create a more sustainable and progressive business which, in turn, will support rural growth.
“It’s been tough going these past few years for farming. Farmers and growers have had to deal with volatile market prices, weather changes, and also preparation for the impact Brexit will have on the industry,” said David Hume, a George F. White Farm Consultant. “The demand for more sustainable and efficient farming businesses is greater than ever, and this new rural grant can really help farmers and growers to do this. The minimum grant contribution is £35,000 which (assuming a grant rate of 40%) makes the minimum project cost £87,500. This grant is therefore very much focused on larger projects that will aid business expansion or significantly reduce production costs.”
Producers can become processors
A good way to achieve sustainability is through diversification, and this scheme can help the farming sector to create a new revenue stream through setting up a new enterprise or expand existing enterprises. It provides a perfect opportunity for producers to also become processors. For example, a dairy producing milk traditionally sells it to a larger dairy marketing co-operative, however the smaller dairy farmer could now process their own milk and bottle it to sell locally or produce another dairy product to achieve a higher market price direct to the business.
Rural growth boost
“The main objective of the scheme is to facilitate and support the rural growth of progressive businesses, to create a sustainable rural community that is using the latest technology and techniques and making the most of opportunities available to improve profitability,” added David. “We’re working with farmers and growers across the region to help them move their farming business forward and secure greater sustainability, and this new funding opportunity will be central to how we approach this. It’s a very welcome boost for rural growth and we’re looking forward to helping clients diversify with help from the scheme, to secure their long-term farming future.”
If you’d like to discuss the Countryside Productivity Scheme in more detail and how it can benefit you and your business, please contact your local Farm Business Consultants:
Northumberland & Borders: David Hume on 01665 511986 or email email@example.com
Durham: Alan Falshaw on 01388 529539 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Yorkshire: Sally Horrocks on 01677 458201 or email email@example.com