We were already quite far down the precision farming road before meeting up with SoilEssentials, as sponsor of the Award, so I was intrigued to find out more. They have introduced me to new innovations, techniques and processes that we will adopt and take forward into the future. SoilEssentials have shown genuine interest in my farming operations and taken the time to show me where there are opportunities and how to access, understand and interpret the information available to me.

Location: Aberdeenshire

Crops Grown: Spring barley, winter barley, winter wheat, oil seed rape

Land managed: 850 acres + 200 acres grazing

Peter Chapman, Owner

Peter Chapman could be described as an onshore wind farmer. At least since 2008 that’s where the majority of his income has come from. But looking over his windswept expanse of land at Strichen in Fraserburgh, that isn’t where his heart lies. Land farming has been in Peter’s blood since his grandfather first set up the family business a couple of generations ago. So despite the 4 Enercon E-48 800 KW wind turbines churning at South Redbog, Peter’s passion remains with his large scale mixed arable farm encompassing 850 acres arable and the rest in grazing, for around 70 suckler cows and their progeny.

So how have Peter’s working life and SoilEssentials become entwined? Well, let’s put this boldly; Peter is a winner! Having entered the inaugural AgriScot awards, he was picked out as the Scottish Arable Farm of the Year, an award sponsored by us – SoilEssentials! And Peter is a perfect recipient in our eyes as he’s already won over by the precision farming message. He has been using precision farming techniques since 2001.

The land at South Redbog consists of around 10 inches of soil over clay and so drainage can be a real issue. Peter began by GPS mapping soil and variably applying inputs. He also used electromagnetic scanning for soil texture mapping, which provided him with establishment zones for variable seed rate drilling.

Bingo, a fabulous store of yield maps going back to 2005! Furthermore, since joining Scottish Agronomy, the research and advice co-operative, Peter says his eyes have been opened further and he signed up for the UK-wide soil health project SoilBio, which involved extensive soil sampling and mapping.

So, after visiting and speaking with Peter we agreed a prize package and programme of services moving forward. First some soil sampling (to assist with the national project) then yield analysis using his historical yield data and finally, should the sky be clear enough, a drone (UAV) flight across agreed fields with potential satellite imagery, (the further north a farm, the more cloud cover there tends to be, hence a reduced likelihood of frequent satellite imagery being available).

Peter and his wife, Grace, work hard, like all of us, to keep their farm thriving. But with such a positive and receptive approach to technology, Peter and his family have no intention of dropping the baton.

Nominations for this year’s Award are still open – for more information and a copy of the form, please email: gavin.dick@agri-epicentre.com

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