Gatekeeper helping farmers diversify into ‘amaizing’ projects

Gatekeeper, Farmplan’s crop management software, is designed to enhance understanding of crop performance, helping farmers to improve yields and make informed decisions… or is it? For some farmers across the UK, Gatekeeper has become a useful tool for something a little different!

With Gatekeeper’s mapping and precision farming capabilities, the software can digitalise a maze layout in relation to the field it will be drilled in to. Via plot points and geo-referencing the maze artwork, the design of the maize maze can be converted into a data boundary, which is then interpreted by an in-cab controller, such as John Deere, and drilled accordingly.

Our team have been busy working with some of our customers to bring a range of artistic layouts to life recently, from scarecrows and animals to a ten-pin bowling themed-design and even a commemorative layout of the 1969 moon landing!

Uncle Henry’s Farm Shop in Gainsborough started using Gatekeeper to create maize mazes to entertain children during school holidays, and interest has grown considerably with over 10,000 people visiting the attraction last year.

Sam Ward, who works at Uncle Henry’s Farm Shop, said: “We use Gatekeeper to create a new design each year and tell the maze drill when to start and shut off by using an out of field zero rate coupled with section control. Our marketing team come up with a design each year and I then import the image into Gatekeeper and change the field boundary to go around all the paths of the shape.

“We load the field boundary on to our John Deere Greenstar box and then drill the field up and down at a half rate and then again crossways at a half rate. There is usually a bit of mowing of corners required to tidy up a bit but it works a dream and the results are amazing!

“Our mazes have become more intricate over the years and we think we have perfected it now. We’re now working on other elements of the attraction like adding a giant bridge, straw bale pyramids and other fun things for the kids!”

Andy Wolff, Gatekeeper Support Manager at Farmplan, said: “It’s certainly an unusual use of Gatekeeper but it shows how versatile the product is!

“It’s important that our software can support diversified projects such as this and it shows the importance of data to the industry nowadays. Collecting and analysing data can really help to support informed decision-making but it is great to see ingenuity on this scale too.”

Find out more about our Gatekeeper software here.