Angus growers Jim Wilson and Robert Ramsay are improving potato production and reducing waste with their Tuberzone CropCast forecasting tool – and it’s now running worldwide.
The pair run SoilEssentials, a precision technology company that taps into their farming experience to tackle industry challenges. Tuberzone CropCast is their latest invention, and is part of a project run in partnership with chip manufacturer McCain, GrimmeUK, Newcastle University and The James Hutton Institute.
Tuberzone CropCast predicts potato crop yield, size distribution and crop value, weekly through the season, to ensure growers desiccate at peak crop value, meet their contract targets and reduce waste.
Due to the rapid growth of salad and seed potatoes, Jim knows only too well the extreme difficulty it takes to know when to correctly burn down the crop for maximum return. Test digs have historically been random and often hurried due to the busy time of year.
With crop and field variabilities too, the random nature of digs does not give a true reflection of the crop’s progress and here Tuberzone CropCast aims to change that.
Yet seed and salad potatoes are only valuable if the grower can meet the sizes that contracts demand, explains Jim and so burning too early or too late has a severe impact on the crop’s value.
Growers report their planting date, potato variety, and irrigation information and then the Tuberzone predicts crop growth, monitors the crop using satellite imagery, and records the weather using a virtual weather station. Growers are then asked to take a small number of specifically targeted crop digs using a mobile app.
They go on to receive a weekly progress report and a forecast two weeks ahead. With the value attached to each size fraction, they can confidently make an informed decision to begin haulm destruction and capitalise on the best outcome for profitability.