We spoke to Marc Willis, Station Manager of UPL’s UK field testing site, Shray Hill, about the realities of running field trials and how his team have integrated fieldmargin into their work.
UPL manufactures and markets agrochemical products and seeds, with an increasing focus on
Biosolutions. They are a truly international business, selling in over 130 countries globally.
Marc has over 22 years experience in agricultural research and had been looking for an
application to manage activities at a complex site, but which would not be cumbersome for his team.
We sat down with Marc to find out more…
What is Shray Hill’s role in UPL’s business?
We are the first site for in-field testing of new technologies which come through UPL. The business runs field research in Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, Spain and Ivory Coast as well as here, to enable climate-specific testing. Here in the UK, we are one of the first places products will be tested.
What does this look like in practice?
Our R&D field is split into much smaller sub-fields, where we are growing a whole host of crops. Not all the experiments we run are designed for maximising yield. For example, we might grow an intentionally dirty variety of wheat, in order to test a new fungicide. Our product range spans herbicides, plant and soil health, as well as seed applied technology. Further, there’s a huge focus on natural plant protection, micro-fertilisers, biological stimulants.
How long is the journey from Shray Hill to market?
It will really depend on the product. If it’s a natural bio-stimulant it might be as little as a year. However, there are some products which will have much longer R&D journeys and might only be on the market 10 years later; or, of course, not at all.
How does fieldmargin sit in your processes at work?
We came to fieldmargin because we wanted a way of managing work at the site, which did not
involve really dense, hungry technology, but instead was lighter-touch and allowed us all to engage with it. We manage certain aspects of our work flow through the app and for this reason it’s particularly valuable that it is cloud-based, and so syncs instantly across phones and web.
Has the app integrated into your work flows as expected?
We all use it and it’s well liked within the team. In particular, it’s the fact that it’s fast and light-
touch; that makes it easier to get started. It’s been great to have the pesticide database added into the system too. For me, the visual nature of the app is really helpful; I often screen-share directly from the app in presentations and meetings, because that visual anchor is very helpful.
Fieldmargin is used by farms of all shapes and sizes to help streamline communication and
management. From the complexities of the UPL Shray Hill trial site, to family farms and
contracting businesses, the world over.