VOF School Jansen: “more crop per drop” thanks to satellite information

The company

VOF School Jansen is a small family-business (husband, wife and a young son) that owns a 56-hectar farm. The crop fields consist of 40ha grassland, 13,5ha corn and 2,5ha sugar beet. An extra 10ha is used for food production for the farm’s livestock that consists of 130 milk cows with calves.

The company is a member of ZLTO, an association of over 18 000 farmers that seeks to help its members innovate so as to cope with higher market demands, environmental standards, and to keep up with technological opportunities.

The challenge

Agriculture cycles are full of uncertainties from one year to the next. The farmer’s decisions are largely based on experience, practice and advice from others. Adri School, the farm owner, decided to seize the opportunity of a tailored information service offered by ZLTO to improve his business decisions and outcomes.

The satellite solution

Adri School receives a regular e-mail with an overview of all the fields that can be irrigated and with advice on irrigation priorities, depending on soil moisture. The e-mail also indicates the most appropriate time to irrigate for best results, taking into account rain forecast. Finally, an extra level of information reports to the user the economic implications of the options presented. For instance, the program is able to make reliable estimations on whether or not it is economically beneficial to irrigate the grass or to re-seed the grassland.

The satellite data that feeds into the system is provided by eLEAF, the same company that manages the running of the system. eLEAF works together with both ZLTO, and WUR Livestock Research from Wageningen. The latter worked on the economic module of the service, seen as a way to provide the practical pros and cons of the options the farmer is presented with.

The result

VOF School Jansen can now better mitigate the uncertainties of the farming seasons thanks to objective, reliable information on the irrigation needs of the crops. The service is easy to use and allows the family business to save money and water. Information on the expected corn yield during the season allows to take a timely decision about purchasing additional corn or not for feeding the livestock.

As for ZLTO, not only does it offer a valuable decision-support to its members, but also contributes directly to environmental standards in the region, by encouraging a responsible use of groundwater.

“To reduce the amount of wasted freshwater globally, any agricultural company around the world should have the ability to gain reliable information on irrigation needs in order to save the scarce freshwater.”