NIAB Digital is a new interactive farm software platform, giving farmers and agronomists the ability to map, manage, store, share and compare farm, crop and research data, launched by NIAB at the 2017 Cereals Event.
Powered by technology and data science firm KisanHub, NIAB Digital’s introductory package of subscription services – ‘Farm’, ‘ActivSmart’, ‘Potato Crop Management’ and ‘Trials’ - aim to improve farm business performance through data integration alongside crop decision support tools. More products and services are in development including a crop recommendation tool for growers and agronomists.
Dr Juno McKee, Head of Membership, Training and Digital Services at NIAB, says, “New subscribers to the NIAB Digital ‘Farm’ service have access to digital field mapping, disease modelling tools, satellite imagery, farm and crop data storage, field specific weather forecasting, and crowd-sourced crop, pest and disease information. Annual subscriptions start at £250 with NIAB TAG Farm Local members automatically gaining full access to the NIAB Digital ‘Farm’ service as part of their package.”
‘ActivSmart’ is a stand-alone cloud-based pesticide database, available from £66 per year or included with the ‘Farm’ subscription, designed to allow users to compare products which may appear similar but could have different legislative requirements, such as different buffer-zone requirements or crop restrictions.
“The ‘ActivSmart’ service gives growers and advisers reassurance that they are conforming with UK pesticide legislation requirements when advising or applying pesticides. It includes a database of over 2,200 arable plant protection products, product labels, tank mixes, safety data sheets and environmental information,” highlights Dr McKee.
‘Potato Crop Management’ is a collection of digital products to capture, store and process the potato crop data needed to run NIAB CUF yield and quality predictions, and irrigation scheduling decision support tools. And finally, the NIAB Digital ‘Trials’ service includes specialist software to create experimental protocols, map trial locations and download, report and publish data in addition to the field mapping and geo-spatial analytics, including satellite imagery and UAV data.
Available on PC, smartphone and tablet, NIAB Digital, available at www.niabnetwork.com, is built on the KisanHub platform of core technologies which makes it easy to aggregate data from different sources, with simple to use dynamic interfaces. “Our users retain full ownership and control of their data and data shares, with the platform and products available to our members, customers and research partners to use and develop further,” says Dr McKee.
NIAB Technical Director Bill Clark says, “NIAB Digital is leading the way in delivering products, services and solutions for farmers at a local level, allowing the integration of field-specific information with hyper-local weather data to provide field-specific agronomy alerts and advice. The new service utilises the power of cloud-based technology and computing power to provide a suite of services and products to help farmers and advisers manage in a rapidly changing industry.”
Mr Clark explains that many of NIAB Digital’s services start with geo-locating the farm. “The system knows where you are, but by mapping your farm fields onto the system NIAB Digital can provide real time farm or field-specific weather information – both actual and forecast.”
The weather information can then be used for a number of things, from planning farm operations through to feeding into pest and disease models which can give the user field specific alerts. These include an oilseed rape Sclerotinia alert and the recently developed Fusarium Ear Blight risk model.
“The Fusarium Ear Blight service combines pre and post-flowering weather, real and forecast with field specific information on previous cropping and cultivations and gives a predicted risk of ear blight infection. The system ranks the risk into high, medium and low and gives recommendations based on the predicted risk. Once a field is on the system, the model runs automatically every day, updating the weather information and giving updated alerts,” says Mr Clark.
The hyper-local field specific weather information and geo-location services, combined with satellite imagery that gives users a new insight into crop issues, offers huge potential for the development of further new services in the coming months, including other pest and disease models.