SoilEssentials are realistic, extremely knowledgeable and offer real working solutions. They convinced me that 4 soil samples/ha was the answer as variability over a small area can be so great. A job worth doing, is worth doing right, right?

Farm: Stackpole Farms

Location: Highland, Scotland

Crops grown: Spring barley, spring oats, winter barley, winter wheat and oil seed rape

Size: 2500 acres

Dave Robertson, Farm Manager

Cawdor is one of the great Scottish Highland estates. From the granite majesty of the Cairngorms to the soft sands of the Moray Firth, it covers a landscape of outstanding beauty. Stackpole Farms Ltd is a crucial part of the commercial activity required to keep the estate ‘wheels’ turning in the face of today’s harsh economic realities. For farm manager, Dave Robertson, managing the 2,500 acres under his care is one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs you could imagine. “There are always challenges in farming; prices, topography, weather. Lots of farmers are not making much money, but for many it’s an in-built way of life that we couldn’t imagine abandoning. Instead we hang on, adapting and doing our best to weather the storm. For us, here at Stackpole, one of the best ways of farming smarter has been enlisting the help of SoilEssentials.”

Dave first got in touch with Jim Wilson of SoilEssentials 17 years ago. He wanted to try variable rate sampling (all the rage at the time!) and Jim was the only one to be totally honest about what savings the system could generate. Since then, with the guidance of SoilEssentials, Stackpole have carried out extensive soil sampling across their land, where they use minimum tillage practices. They now sample in a five year cycle at 500 acres per year, depending on the crop and rotation. Dave says, “The objective is to target nutrients where they’re needed. We cover a large area with a very light soil type, so it can be diffcult to hold onto nutrients and pH. There are times we’ve sampled and required 40 tonnes more lime, but we were more than happy because we knew it was accurate.”

Throughout this journey, Dave says his relationship with SoilEssentials has been excellent. They now have precision ag kit on three machines; Two Trimble CFX-750 guidance displays with Autopilot automated steering systems running on RangePoint correction and the other one set-up with Trimble guidance, Autopilot and running on the SoilEssentials RTK correction service, EssentialsNet. “Anything that gives you the edge is valuable. We use one of the systems at cultivation to manoeuvre the six metre-wide implement, so there’s a definite saving on fuel. The other system is used on the sprayer allowing for section control, saving on double overlaps. We have some odd-shaped fields and this makes it so much easier and cost-effective.”

Dave recognises that investing in precision agriculture can be a daunting decision. “It’s a continuous learning experience and, of course, we’re not the experts here, but with a company of the calibre of SoilEssentials on hand it certainly makes the journey a much easier one.”


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