Farm weather network shows British farmers' enthusiasm for data sharing

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Farmers, agronomists, buying groups, processors and even utility companies have enthusiastically embraced the concept of ‘data collaboration’, recognising its value in decision-making, management of day-to-day farm operations and more effective use of crop protection products, says agri-weather pioneer Sencrop.

 

Offering an early insight into how strategic data collection, analysis and sharing is creeping into the whole agri-food value chain, the French agri-tech start-up revealed that across Europe it has activated 250 private weather networks – 25 of those networks within the UK – connecting over 9,000 on-farm stations from its total of 15,000.

 

“During 2020 we doubled the number of ag weather stations in the UK,” says Fleur van Luijk, UK market co-ordinator for Sencrop, which entered the UK market in 2018.

 

“Approximately one-quarter of our stations are connected collaboratively within a private network, enabling access to data from other stations.”

 

Users – whether farmers, advisers, contractors, managers or anyone else with authorisation – can choose stations located in areas of interest and retrieve all the weather data in a secure, ultra-localised manner using a smartphone app or a standard browser.

 

Sencrop says farmers armed with this information – temperature, wind speed, direction, humidity, cumulative rainfall – can better manage their operations. They can anticipate weather or disease risks, allocate daily tasks to make the most of appropriate weather windows and ensure best practice in using crop protection products.

 

For example, trials carried out at Syngenta’s Shropshire Innovation Centre combined field-level Sencrop weather data with in-field aphid monitoring. By calculating a hyper-local T-Sum 170 – regarded as the threshold for applying anti-BYDV insecticides – growers could make a more informed decision about spraying, either by optimising timing or improving confidence in avoiding unnecessary applications.

 

According to Sencrop, agronomists are using access to this shared data to improve and refine their recommendations to customers. Processors and buyers are also using networks to analyse weather data to develop harvest strategies that optimise harvest windows, while maintaining supply volumes.

 

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