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SoilEssentials - using data to improve farming

Started by a couple of insightful farmers, this Scottish business puts data at the heart of its operational strategy to help farms, across Scotland and overseas, achieve the best possible results.

Farmland and crops in a field on the East coast of  Scotland.

2 May 2019 | 2 minute read

Transforming the farming industry

The effective use of technology and data to harness insight, are what helps keep Scotland's SoilEssentials in front of the curve when it comes to farming innovation.

This Angus-based business uses data from satellites, drones and weather models to improve farming techniques and crop output.

Marketing Director, Robert Ramsay, understood early on the advantage the effective use of data could bring to a business. This understanding has given SoilEssentials a domestic advantage. And allowed the business to help others in the agricultural sector improve their practices.

A data driven farming business

The strategy of SoilEssentials data driven business model is simple. They want to:

  • Automate equipment so that farming methods become more efficient
  • Use a cross section of systems that physically measure things
  • Collect data that can be the basis of useful insights that inform the agricultural sector in data driven decision-making

"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 they collect information that farmers can use. 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, the company has been able to help farmers across the globe.

Find out what SoilEssentials can do for your farming business opens in a new window

Soil Essentials team member analysing data.

How Scottish businesses can get onboard with data

Simply put, in Robert Ramsay's own words: "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." 

Robert understands that data needs to be set in context to the industry businesses are in and examined in relation to that industry. His 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."

Robert advises all businesses in all sectors to take advantage of the opportunity that data offers to Scottish companies. 

"The Scottish Government is on board with data, and organisations like 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 actually push you in the right direction, so let them in."

The data community in Scotland is wide and varied and able to help Scottish enterprises develop their data skills at all stages of their data journey. There are experts, events and meetups, as well as opportunities to take on MSc Data Science & Engineering interns for a 10-12 week placement every summer.

Find out about student placement projects on The Data Lab websiteopens in a new window

Learn about data driven innovation and data-based events 

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