Aberdeenshire and Angus in the North-East of Scotland were chosen to be the focus region for exploring the uptake of precision farming in the UK. The region is well known for producing barley for the malting industry, potatoes for national and international markets as well as livestock producers and smaller mixed farms.
The NE corner including both Angus and Aberdeenshire together accounts for only 16% of the agricultural area for Scotland yet is responsible for a significant proportion of Scotland’s crops and livestock. In Aberdeenshire, the main agricultural land use is for cereals (33%), oilseed rape (32%) and produces over 60% of Scotland’s malting barley.
It is the large-scale production of crops (particularly barley and potatoes) in the region that makes it an ideal region to study the adoption of variable rate precision farming.
 See recent report produced in conjunction with local authority councils for the NE, ‘The Land Based Sector in NE Scotland’ March 2016, available at https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/22087/land-based-sector-web.pdf [accessed 1 April 2019].
This study focuses upon the adoption of variable rate precision farming technologies in NE Scotland in order to understand the sources of advice for farmers and the role played by advisors when it comes to making investments in new innovations.
Precision farming is seen as one innovation that can lead to more sustainable farming practices, bringing proposed cost savings, higher yields and environmental gains. However the cost savings are often disputed since the initial payment of new equipment and machinery as well as data management software can offset any savings from using the technology itself.
In total, 31 farmer interviews were conducted, of which 22 were adopters, 6 were non-adopters and 3 were partial droppers (only one technological innovation was dropped whilst others remained). Six AKIS suppliers were also interviewed based on their relevance to the farmers in our case study.
Full report is available here.