News

UK Soil Health: Innovative Soil Stations Bring More Data

Photo: Paul-Tech soil station at a spinach field, Newshoots Farm (in collaboration with Fram Farmers), Trimley, Suffolk, UK.

🌱 72% of UK land is managed for agriculture. Almost 15 million acres of UK soils are at risk of degradation costing us an estimated £1.2 [Billion] every year. The UK has lost almost half of its biodiversity since the 1970s… – Regenerative Farmers of UK

Soil health is the critical component for today’s smart farmer, particularly in the UK where diverse climates and soil types present both unique challenges and opportunities for those in the business of feeding the world and growing a greener Earth. 

Maintaining healthy soil ensures sustainable crop production and supports the overall ecosystem in the UK. Without an understanding of our soil’s health and how to manage it, our arsenal lacks the mental artillery we need to optimise crop yields and maintain long-term soil fertility. Our fight against top-soil degradation across the United Kingdom, and further negative climate impacts, fails without constant data. 

It’s why smart farmers have turned to technologies such as soil testing, weather stations and satellite stations for many years. These separate, but powerful, tools provide crucial soil, irrigation and plant data that elicit better farming practices and lead to increased sustainability and profitable agriculture.

Today we’ll explore the benefits and hang-ups of manual soil testing, weather stations and satellite stations, as well as how Paul-Tech soil stations combine and build on all three technologies in a uniquely innovative way.

Soil testing, weather and satellite station benefits to UK soil health

95% of crops worldwide are grown in soil and yet we’ve managed to lose around half of our topsoil globally within the last one-hundred and fifty years, according to Yeo Valley.

Within the same time-frame farmers have had increased access to multiple testing solutions, from soil nutrition to moisture data and weather effects. Today these three technologies have often lived separately from each other:

Manual soil testing: Involves the physical applications of soil tests in various fields and under individual conditions to achieve specific results.

Weather stations: Harvest localised data from a specific location, things like: temperature, humidity, wind speed, and precipitation at the field level.

Satellite stations: Provide data and insights that lead to improved productivity, sustainability, and resilience against broader environmental challenges.

Let’s break down these unique solutions to data harvesting for farms world-wide, and then see how Paul-Tech combines and improves these technologies into a single in-field tool. 

Trade-offs of manual soil testing for better soil health

Manual soil testing involves the periodic collection and analysis of soil samples to determine nutrient levels, pH, texture and various other properties. This traditional method has been the backbone of soil health management for decades in the UK until recent proprietary methods now allow for easier collection in real time.

Upsides of manual soil testing

Detailed nutrient analysis: Soil testing provides detailed rundowns of nutrient deficiencies and overabundances that help you take precise actions for its health.

Reduced fertiliser costs: Understanding what your soil needs allows farmers to use precision when supplying it with nutrition, reducing input at all stages supported by manual testing.

Improved crop yields: The combination of nutrient data and precision farming result in stronger crops, yields and value–creating healthier nutrition from soil to supper.

Downsides of manual soil testing

Labour-intense: Manual soil testing requires the physical collection and analysis of sampled data, which can be both time-consuming and laborious.

Infrequent data: These tests are typically performed once or twice a year, missing real-time fluctuations in the immediate needs of crops.

Limited functionality: Soil tests target specific nutrient metrics and often fail to grasp the entire scope of moisture, structure and nutrition data locked away in our fields.

Trade-offs of weather stations for better crop and soil health

Weather stations are installed on farms to collect real-time data on temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and other meteorological factors. This information can be crucial for managing our farm’s irrigation, predicting pest outbreaks and planning crop activities.

Upsides of weather stations:

Real-time data: Weather stations provide us with continuous updates on meteorological conditions, allowing for greater efficiency in decision-making.

Precision irrigation: Helps to optimise our water usage by aligning irrigation schedules with real weather data, reducing water waste, excess run-off while improving crop hydration.

Pest & disease management: Enables our proactive management of weather-related pest and disease risks by assessing incoming and existing threats through local information.

Downsides of weather stations

Higher cost-limited value: Purchase (or rented) costs, including installation and maintenance may fall short of the overall value when compared to stronger equipment that implements weather data.

Complex data: Farmers may not have the support they need to analyse and take action on the data discovered from weather stations.

Geography: The effectiveness of weather stations may dwindle in how UK farmers assess their soil and crop health over time, due to poor placement, microclimates and other factors.

Trade-offs of satellite stations for better overall farm health

Satellite stations use remote technology to provide high-resolution images and data on crop health, soil moisture, and field conditions. They offer a broad perspective on farm operations, helping mostly in large-scale farm management.

Upsides of satellite stations

Comprehensive field view: Satellite stations offer us a wide-area overview that may help in detecting variability and issues across any size field.

Early detection: This data helps us identify early signs of crop stress, disease and nutrient deficiency.

Yield prediction: By analysing growth patterns, we can use the data to better predict upcoming yields throughout the growing season.

Downsides of satellite stations

Slower data collection: Satellite stations provide us with  information on past conditions rather than real-time updates, which can delay our responsive actions.

Higher cost-limited value: Installation, maintenance and unsupported analysis of data can all incur a cost which may not be worthwhile when compared to stronger tech that combines satellite data with soil and weather. 

Dependence on external providers: Farmers rely on satellite service providers for data, which may not always align with our specific and local needs/schedules.

How Paul-Tech Soil Stations Stand Out

Paul-Tech soil stations integrate the benefits of soil testing, weather data, and satellite imagery into a single, comprehensive solution. Our advanced stations are designed to provide continuous, real-time data on a variety of critical factors, offering a level of insight and immediacy unparalleled by traditional methods.

Interesting: We recently worked with the University of Leeds on the combined benefits of regenerative agriculture with Paul-Tech soil stations to unearth some amazing results. 

Each soil station combines weather, soil and satellite data to offer UK farmers a variety of knowledge on their soil’s real-time health:

✔️Active hydration

✔️Nutrients

✔️Soil temperature

✔️Soil moisture

✔️Conductivity

✔️Air temperature

✔️Relative humidity

✔️NDVI

✔️Weather forecast

Each station provides in-depth moisture, nutrition and meteorological data combined with actionable recommendations based on data analysis.

Solving the ‘Cons’ of soil sampling, satellite and weather stations

Paul-Tech was founded on the understanding that healthier fields, soil and farms produce healthier, more nutritional crops. Unlocking that data means:

  • Less money spent on unnecessary inputs, like overfertilisation
  • Stronger, more nutritional fields, soil and crops across the UK
  • A greater, greener world through regenerative agriculture

Soil sampling’s labor-intensive and infrequent data harvesting is eliminated with Paul-Tech soil stations. Each unit provides real-time, accurate data on a myriad of metrics year-round. The stations are solar-powered and fully autonomous, and our team can help with optimal installation across fields.

Weather and satellite stations limited value is upcycled into each Paul-Tech soil station, combining the information received with real-time soil, nutrition and moisture data–you’ll receive consistent analyses of this data for your fields from our team.

Benefits of auto-analysed & combined data with Paul-Tech

Convenience aside, the combination of moisture, soil, weather and satellite data along with detailed analysis of the former, is stronger than the sum of its parts. Multiple case studies show the value of comprehensive data, resulting in increased productivity, profit and nutrition value.

While weather and satellite stations may predict a dry spell on their own, or hold record of a former dry season, a lack of soil, plant and moisture data prohibits us from understanding how our crops will use additional or hidden moisture. 

Accurate and constant soil data gives us a present and future understanding of what will happen in plants when crop actions are taken. Paul-Tech soil stations let farmers make decisions in the moment they need to be made.

By analysing combined soil and meteorological data trends, you’ll be able to foresee potential problems in your fields and take preventive measures. This forward-looking capability is a significant advantage over satellite data alone, which often reflects only past conditions.

🌱 Check it out: By monitoring soil moisture levels in real-time alongside satellite data, Paul-Tech stations can alert farmers to drought conditions before they become critical, and include active crop hydration data to ensure plants can use additional irrigation effectively.

Paul-Tech stations incorporate localised weather forecasting. Each station provides precise weather predictions tailored to their specific locations, which helps you plan activities more accurately. Paul-Tech stations can detect hidden moisture content in soil and use this to more accurately advise on necessary changes to irrigation–ensuring that your crops receive the right amount of hydration.

🌱 Check it out: Paul-Tech soil stations also stand out in their ability to monitor and manage fertiliser applications and usage–see how European farmer Aru PM saved €56,000 during his first year of smart farming with Paul-Tech. 

Traditional soil sampling often misses the immediate effects of fertiliser application, but continuous monitoring ensures that farmers understand how fertilisers dissolve and become available to plants. This helps in optimising fertiliser use, reducing waste and ensuring that nutrients are used efficiently.

Schedule a free demo with Paul-Tech for your farm

Farmers across the UK have reported significant benefits while using Paul-Tech soil stations–from increased crop yields, better soil health management, to reduced input costs. Schedule a free demo of Paul-Tech for your farm today.

Our team is eager to support farmers from start to finish and all-over again, providing installation assistance, data analysis, aid with necessary maintenance and more. We’re excited to see your farm grow into the most profitable, environmental and nutritional powerhouse it can be.  


Book a free demo,
and see it in action

Book your no-hassle, no-obligation demo today and start your journey to a healthier farm in minutes. Your fields, your plants and your wallet will thank you for years to come.

Book a free demo