Cream of the crops - how SoilEssentials is using data to revolutionise farming

SoilEssentials is a small Scottish agritech company, run by farmers for farmers, with big ambition. It harnesses technology, data and intelligence to help reduce the use of pesticides, reduce CO2 emissions and improve efficiency and yields.

Transforming the agriculture industry

SoilEssentials marketing director, Robert Ramsay, understood early on the advantage the effective use of data could bring to a business. An understanding that’s given SoilEssentials a competitive advantage and allows the business to help others in the agricultural sector improve their practices. We caught up with Robert to share the company’s story so far:

"Started by a couple of insightful farmers over 20 years ago, SoilEssentials is an agritech business that puts data at the heart of its operational strategy to help farms, across Scotland and overseas, achieve the best possible results.

"We’re based on a working farm and have a multi-disciplinary team working across agronomy, machine control and software development projects, developing agritech solutions with a global reach.

"The effective use of technology and data to harness insight helps keep SoilEssentials ahead of the curve when it comes to farming innovation. We use data from satellites, drones and weather models to improve farming techniques and crop output.

Robert Ramsay, Marketing Director, SoilEssentials

A data-driven farming business

"The strategy of SoilEssentials data-driven business model is simple:

  • Automate equipment so that farming methods become more efficient
  • Use a cross section of systems that physically measure things
  • Then collect this data into useful information that can help inform decision-making in the agricultural sector

"We wanted to create a technology company that would allow us to run our farms better. Once we created that, we wanted to create the tools that would allow us to run a precision-farming business that could provide local farmers with solutions, as well as the tools that would help them perform better."

Insightful data drives business success

“Without insight, data is just data. What SoilEssentials do is make the data we collect accessible information so that farmers can use it. And as data is unlike the physical activity of farming, it makes the company itself exportable and scalable.

“By moving into a data-driven world, as well as being able to offer more precision-farming expertise to farmers in Scotland, we've been able to help farmers across the globe from Europe to New Zealand.

“We’ve partnered with some of the most influential and ground-breaking research and development teams around, including Innovate UK, European Space Agency, James Hutton Institute, Newcastle University and Cambridge University among others.

"If you don't use data you're guessing. And with businesses now being more competitive than ever there's no space for bad decisions. If you want to make a real decision, you need to base it on data."

"Image showing the many sources of data that we gather and ‘feed’ into our cloud precision farming platform - KORE, where users can then make better, more informed actionable decisions:

SoilEssentials KORE cloud precision farming platform uses different sources of data

How your business can get onboard with data in Scotland

“Data needs to be set in context to the industry businesses are in and examined in relation to that industry. My advice to companies is, don't believe every single thing that comes from data, be circumspect. Don't just let data take the decision for you. Data is there to help you make a better-informed decision but with your 'farming or your business hat on'.

“It's very difficult to make real decisions without data. It's important to still look at your gut and use your experience and knowledge, but just reinforce that with data.

“All businesses in all sectors can take advantage of the opportunity that data offers them, right here in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is on board with data, and organisations like Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway are there to help. You've just got to show them a proper worked out plan. And once you're in the system, they point you in the right direction, so let them in.”

The data community in Scotland is wide and varied and able to help enterprises develop their data skills at all stages of their data journey. There are experts, events and meetups, as well as opportunities to collaborate with data science specialists via The Data Lab.

Don't miss out on getting your data-driven innovation journey started in Scotland.

SoilEssentials website

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