Mobile technology set to help farmers predict harvests whilst growing more, for less

i-crop™ trial results revealed as new smartphone app launched

28 August 2012

PepsiCo and Cambridge University have joined forces to introduce mobile technology to crop planning, with a new smartphone app that will help farmers predict future harvests.

The app, which has been trialled across 46 UK potato fields, works by photographing and analysing the potato leaf canopy to accurately predict crop development. It is the latest breakthrough achieved through PepsiCo's collaboration with Cambridge University.

Last year, the company co-developed i-crop™ - a system that helps farmers to measure and reduce their overall water usage by collecting and calculating information about crops, such as soil moisture levels. The new app will improve the ease, speed and quality of the canopy data fed into i-crop ™, making it easier for PepsiCo and farmers to track the development of all types of crops across the UK.

Initial trials of i-crop™ are already proving the potential of the technology, with a 13% increase in crop yield and 8% reduction in water usage across 46 of PepsiCo's UK potato farms. By providing precision information about crops, such as soil moisture levels, farmers can judge exactly how much water to use – thus reducing wastage, boosting harvests and saving money.

David Wilkinson, Senior Director, European Agriculture for PepsiCo Europe said:

"British farming is the engine of our business, from the potatoes we use for Walkers crisps to the oats for Quaker porridge and the apples for Copella juices. This year British farmers have faced some of most challenging conditions in recent memory and investing in new farming technology that will grow crops more resource efficiently is vital for the future of farming."

Robin Griffiths, PepsiCo farmer

"This investment by PepsiCo is helping me to transform the way I farm. Previously, my harvest estimates were based on manual measurements and a fair amount of guesswork, but now we can get an accurate calculation simply by taking a phone into the field. Similarly, i-crop™ gives me the information I need to judge exactly how much water to use on my crops, reducing my wastage and saving me money."

PepsiCo has also been one of the first companies to use Cool Farm Tool - a carbon calculator developed by the University of Aberdeen – which has enabled farmers to readily assess their carbon emissions, and to model different scenarios and strategies for reducing their footprints further. The company is also currently trialling a number of other sustainability initiatives with its UK farmers, such as identifying and using low carbon fertilisers.

These advances in technology mark an important step in PepsiCo UK's journey towards achieving '50 in 5', PepsiCo's pledge to reduce carbon emissions and water usage in water-stressed areas by 50% in 5 years. Read more about '50 in 5' here. ">Watch our new i-crop™ animation to learn more about the technology.