An Agronomist’s use of Gatekeeper

Regeneration is a key focus that leads the way when looking into a low-input system.

Mike Harrington, Senior Agronomist and Managing Director of Edaphos Ltd – an independent agronomy firm focused on providing a well balanced approach to agronomy – bases his advice on the core principles of soil and plant health garnered before the nitrogen boom of the 1920s, which allows him to take a whole systems approach where chemistry is the last resort, not the first. His focus as an agronomist is to help move each farm to a better place whilst keeping an all-round perspective on differing agricultural systems.

“It’s becoming apparent that we are getting to a stage where we are growing a crop almost in its entirety with inputs from the chemical and fertiliser industries. We apply more and more, but natural systems are driven by carbon, not nitrogen,” Mike said.

Mike’s passion is soil health which, ultimately, is what agronomy is about at its fundamental core. This is reflected in his company’s philosophy, which is to improve soil and plant health whilst harnessing the soils stored resources to their full potential to achieve a healthy, well balanced system.

We spoke with Mike to find out his thoughts about the benefits of linking with growers and more:

Q: What are the main benefits with you being able to link with your growers?
A: Gatekeeper offers a standard and legal way for information to be shared and used effectively to manage the increased restrictions and regulations that farming is under. Having a standard system that provides a process for agronomists to create plans and recommendations is incredibly important.

Nutritional planning is a little heavy but it does offer an alternative to the precision farming systems that not everybody requires, and this is especially true with biological management that begins to cycle and make available nutrients in a way we have not been able to utilise in planning before. RB209 creates plans before we grow a crop, whereas with cycling organic matter and cover crops, we have additional supplies of nutrients that need taking into account. The system of management changes but we still need a plan and starting point.

Q: How do you feel this is beneficial to the grower?
A: Gatekeeper is a tool that can be used according to need, and the need is dependent on the user. The starting point is usually the chemical base that the chemical agronomist uses. We are beginning to expand how we use Gatekeeper for biological management and driving the reduction of chemical and fertiliser dependence.

Q: How long have you been using Gatekeeper Agronomy?
A: I set Gatekeeper up fifteen years ago when starting Edaphos as an independent agronomy and soil fertility management company and the reason was most farms have Gatekeeper as their farm recording system. Since starting Edaphos we now have seven ‘agroecological’ agronomists and are still growing.

Q: What is your most liked feature within Gatekeeper and how that helps you?
A: It is the process and flexibility that allows me to make and integrate recommendations from chemical, nutritional and biological advice for the farm.

To find out more about our Gatekeeper software, click here or contact our team today on 01594 545000.