ISPA Account

Precision Agriculture in United Kingdom

British farmers using map based variable rate fertilizer

By Simon Thelwell, Eric Siqueiros and Trisha Toop, Harper Adams University

A 2018 internet survey of UK farmers by Harper Adams University (HAU) provides additional evidence that British farmers are among the leading users of map based variable rate technology (VRT) fertilizer. In that survey 48% of respondents indicated that they used VRT for fertilizer. Adoption data from elsewhere around the world shows that use of VRT fertilizer rarely exceeds 20% of farmers in a country or region. 
Other statistics from the survey include:
  • 63% of respondents use GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) autosteer
  • 53% have GNSS sprayer boom control
  • Only 15% use optical nitrogen sensors
The survey indicates that UK farmer prefer face-to-face training for precision agriculture technology, but they will use on-line electronic training materials if available. On average they would be willing to pay £278 (~US$339) annually for a subscription to on-line materials supported by web-chat or a hotline. Forty percent said that they would be willing to share their farm data in exchange for access to technical help.
The survey link was emailed out to thousands of farmers on several commercially available farm mailing lists. One hundred and eighty six farmers responded. The average farm size of respondents is 506 ha, which is substantially larger than the UK average. For further information please contact Eric Siqueiros at: ESiquieros@harper-adams.ac.uk