Soil provides many services for agriculture, especially growing crops sustainably. Soil sensing approaches allow scientists to measure how soil changes across the landscape and to use the data for their research. For farmers it makes it possible to plan responses to increase yield, improve biodiversity or other factors important to sustainability in farming.
A unique geographic information system (GIS) tool developed by Dr James Taylor makes available all research and production data collected on Newcastle University’s Cockle Park Farm, including energy usage. This provides ways to understand how to make best use of infrastructure and resources, especially the soil resource, and to better manage the farm as a commercial business and research platform.
Information provided by soil and crop sensors is used to create digital maps of the soil that can be accessed online. By monitoring the different crops and mapping yield, valuable data about the type of soil and what depth it exists in the landscape can be inferred. This is useful for predicting where changes may occur in the soil and how they impact future management and production.