Agri-EPI Centre has been leading the Innovate UK-supported SMART Farm project in Paraguay since January 2018. It has involved partnering with a farming business to demonstrate UK agri-tech in the agricultural economy of Paraguay.
The farming business, GVASA in San Pedro, spans 85,000 hectares and incorporates cattle, maize, soybean and rice production enterprises. This phase of the SMART Farm project has focused on implementing Origin Digital’s Contour platform across GVASA’s arable fields, providing the farmer with in-depth soil health information, effective crop growth models, and enabling variable rate application.
Origin has worked collaboratively with Agri-Epi and Innovate UK to gather information on 6927 hectares of field boundaries and cropping information in Paraguay. Management zones were created over 1,661 of these hectares using soil brightness technology, and 589.6 had precision zonal sampling done on them for nutrient analysis.
Using crop growth model rulesets developed for Africa, the team were able to deploy these models in Paraguay with high levels of accuracy. Minor localisation of the models further increased the accuracy confirming the localisable value. These models include crop growth stage and yield predictors.
“The African models showed a strong correlation with actual South American yields , says Dan Wood at Origin Digital.
“And accuracy improved further when adjustments were made to the models to begin localising them further to South America, showing that our crop growth models can be successfully deployed in this geography.”
A particularly useful outcome is variable rate fertiliser recommendations, which can lead to significant cost savings, increased soil health, and improved efficiencies, yield and profitability.
“It has been a pleasure to manage the Paraguay SMART Farm project, particularly facilitating Origin Digital’s successful adaption of the Contour platform to the South American climate,” says Emily Laskin, farms technical coordinator at Agri-EPI.
“Seeing British technology provide efficiency and sustainability benefits to farming practices internationally shows us how we can make a difference and is a source of pride for the entire team at Agri-EPI.”
The economic outcome of introducing UK technology means more profitable farming systems, reduced environmental footprint and improved economic sustainability.