Today soil data is mostly acquired by farmers for cross compliance reasons and does not primary serve its real purpose to get used to better manage soil resources and increase yield or to reduce emissions from crop production. SolumScire will implement and scale a service to change this and to make soil data more valuable and useful. This service is based on better referenced and new spatial soil data and will combine this with plant condition data from Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 to get better information on soils and plants as well as their important interactions. The newly generated data base will improve modelling for precision farming to increase yield and to lower emissions into water, air and soil from compaction, fertilizer, crop protection and fuel. With this the SolumScire demonstration project will lead to more sustainability in farming and thus have benefits for farmers and the European Society.
Users and their needs
The users of SolumScire will be farmers and their professional service providers. The relevant stakeholder groups are big farms with more than 200ha, small farms, consultants and soil sampling and analysis companies. In the project are several innovative farmers working with digital tools. Consultants play an important role, looking for datasets to create better recommendations and to boost their customers’ yield. Soil sampling and analysis companies are represented by LUFA Nord-West. LUFA is trying to become more digitised and is constantly trying to find new approaches to improve soil sampling by digital means and new farm data.
The needs of the different stakeholder groups have been identified and specified within the ESA BA SolumScire feasibility study. Big farms are looking for best possible soil data to boost yield. Small farms are looking mainly for the most convenient solution and for the more innovative ones amongst them to enter precision farming if the necessary investments can be done. Consultants are looking for new support tools that help them to better scale and sell new services. Soil is a strong focus for them because its impact on yield is high and they need to understand their client’s soils to provide good services.
Target countries are Germany and Switzerland.
Service/ system concept
The SolumScire Demonstrator will implement an automated soil zoning, sample path, and point creation directly in the AgriCircle Farm Management Information System (FMIS). This service will help farmers to collect best samples and to make soil data become more useful for crop management. The second service to be implemented is a highly automated soil sample management to find the right spots to take the samples. The soil samples taken will be geo-tagged with the app or a position from the machinery terminal and through this geo-tag be uniquely coded. The samples then will be physically sent to the laboratory where the analysis will be performed. The analysis data will be transmitted to the AgriCircle FMIS automatically and be assigned to the respective field areas for consecutive data modelling. In the laboratory there will be extended soil biological properties and soil biology analysis implemented and performed. This will lead to better and new insights into soil and thus help to optimise field management activities. Added value of a service like SolumScire will be crop modelling based on this improved soil information where the value capture is expected in the long term.
Space Added Value
Satellite Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation are the space assets indispensable to this service offer.
As Earth Observation data Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data will be used to create the soil zoning and to deliver data insights into AgriCircle. Sentinel-2 is needed to model crop parameters like N-content of leafs, leaf area, chlorophyll content of leafs and many more to improve agricultural modelling. Sentinel-1 in combination with Sentinel-2 will be used to model soil moisture.
GNSS or GPS positioning will be needed to collect geo-referenced soil samples from the field. GPS will be used in combination with an App for farmers that are not able to invest in GNSS-enabled tools and machinery. In this case GPS will help to collect the soil samples and to apply fertilizer into the field in sub-field specific zones by manually adjusting driving speed or applied quantity upon real-time calculation from the App. GNSS services will be used for machinery that are enabled to use such signals
AgriCircle has performed a successful IAP feasibility study in the area of soil data and its potential use to boost yield and to lower emissions called SolumScire. It concluded that there is sustainable business case and also delivered proof of concept for first services to be realised.
The project started in April 2018 and is in preparation of the first milestone meeting as well as the start of the first Pilot to validate parts of the service with selected farmers.