By Luke Kroon
Imagine nurturing 10 hectares of cucumbers for nearly two months after irrigating and applying fertiliser down to the letter. It has been a difficult season thus far and you are relying on this yield to pull you through, counting down the days to maturity… when all of a sudden, your scout staff returns with the message: mites have been found and your entire crop is in danger.
You contact your chemical advisor who recommends that you apply Chemical X on the block as soon as possible, but after checking your stock, you realise…no stock! You need to place an urgent order! After a couple of days (where every minute counts!), the chemical finally arrives. Now you first have to generate an instruction based on the extremely complex label information and another hour flies by! After frantically punching in numbers on your calculator and writing some notes on a piece of paper, you give the completed instruction to the operator in the hope that the correct mixture is applied. Then you complete all the necessary paperwork for the audits and finally your job is done…Or is it?
How can you be sure the correct chemicals have been applied? What was the additional cost of this application? Was it even worth applying these chemicals? Is everything in order should the auditor arrive?
If this nerve-wrecking process sounds familiar, then you are going to love the Agrigistics chemical and fertiliser module.
Chemicals and fertilisers: The what, the why and the how much
Chemicals and fertilisers are some of the biggest expenses that are incurred during the lifetime of a crop. Therefore, the decisions on what to use and how to use it can significantly affect the profitability of a farmer’s crops. In addition, record keeping of chemicals and fertilisers is one of the most important GlobalGAP requirements.
Used correctly, fertilisers (whether natural or chemical) can turn otherwise poor soil into productive land. It can therefore dramatically increase yield by helping the plants to grow quicker, keeping in mind that specific fertilisers support specific plants. Since the plants absorb the nutrients quickly, improvement is visible within a short space of time. Fertilisers are also highly regulated and can be incredibly cost-effective, however, as their importance escalates with the size of your growing operation, so will the overall cost.
Chemicals are applied to manage pests, fungi and unwanted weeds. Chemicals play an important role in ensuring that all of the hard work and input costs related to a crop results in the expected outcome. Some pests can have catastrophic consequences for a farmer’s crops. It can even cause the farmer to lose an entire block of crops and to start from scratch. Applying the correct chemicals at the right time allows a farmer to prevent this. One needs to keep in mind though that some pesticides may be harmful to humans. After application it may be necessary to avoid the area for a certain period.
Two things to consider when applying chemicals and fertilisers are costs and record keeping. Even though fertilisers can be cost-effective, its application throughout the lifetime of a crop, can significantly contribute to the operating costs. In this regard, a good record system is invaluable to ensure maximum output and minimum waste. Although most farmers have some sort of record keeping system in place, these are still mainly done manually, affecting the accuracy and making the process prone to manipulation, just to pass GlobalGAP certification. The Agrigristics’ chemicals and fertilisers module is designed to monitor the application of chemicals and fertilisers more effectively, thereby simplifying the process and reducing operational costs.
How it works
The module was designed keeping in mind that certain procedures are common to the application of chemicals and fertilisers, while others are more unique to each farmer. The common procedures include tasks related to stocktaking, storage and record keeping, defining the type of application and the methods used for application, and writing SOPs (standard operating procedures) for operators. These have been entered as variables into the system and serve as an overall framework for the system.
Before applicators can start to use the chemicals, further information is added to the system, which identifies the applicators, assets, application methods, an inventory list of product details, and the application areas divided into blocks, showing the correct size in hectares.
Before creating and applying the actual mix, the SOPs are captured as instructions into the system.
Creating the mix
After creating the different instructions, the products that will be used for a specific application type, are then added, and each operator’s wristband tagged.
Capturing the actuals
As soon as the chemical application is created on the web portal, it is then synced down to all the devices. This allows the supervisor to view any information related to a specific instruction. As the instructions are applied in the field the data is synced in real time back to the portal where the farmer can view the progress of each instruction.
Simplified record keeping with Agrigistics
If reading the scenario of the cucumber farmer resonates with you, it is time to contact Agrigistics for a demo, here. Agrigistics’ chemical and fertiliser module is designed to simplify the process of applying chemicals and fertilisers by: assisting with planning, stock control, costing and audits. So give us a call and let us help you manage your chemicals and fertilisers.
For more articles about what the Agrigistics team is up to, have a look at our recent blog posts.
Designs By Monet Van Eeden