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30 August 2012 | Adam Leach
A smartphone application developed by Cambridge University for potato farmers supplying PepsiCo's Walkers Crisps has enabled higher yields using less water.
The app - i-crop - enables farmers to analyse their crop and predict how it will develop by taking photos of potato leaf canopy. This then enables them to judge the amount of water they need to use more precisely.
The trial, involving 46 UK farmers, has already produced positive results, with crop yield up 13 per cent and water usage down 8 per cent.
The initiative is part of PepsiCo’s aim to halve its water usage in stressed areas within five years. The app is the result of a partnership between the food producer and the university.
David Wilkinson, senior director, European agriculture at PepsiCo Europe, said in a statement: “British farming is the engine of our business, from 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 the 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, a farmer for PepsiCo who is trialling the app, said: “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.”
Other commitments by the company include taking its factories off the water grid, sending no waste to landfill within its supply chain and halving its carbon emissions within five years.