Turkish farmers on running farming business and using ndvi images_Cover_OneSoil Blog
Turkish Farmers Discuss the Business They Run Using Satellite Imagery
Reading time — 10 min
Ümit Varan and Yiğit Bohur on running their farming business and using NDVI images for field monitoring.
Ümit and Yiğit's family has been in agriculture for centuries. They still run their family farming business to this day, although they do it extremely differently. The farmers use NDVI maps to monitor their fields, learn how to apply variable-rate technology, and teach others the basics of precision farming.
Ümit and Yiğit's family has been in agriculture for centuries. They still run their family farming business to this day, although they do it extremely differently. The farmers use NDVI maps to monitor their fields, learn how to apply variable-rate technology, and teach others the basics of precision farming.
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Scouting and notes
Monitor plant vegetation and add notes for field problem areas. Both in the mobile app for Android and iOS and the web app.
— Tell us a bit about yourself. You run a family business. Tell us how it started.

Ümit: I'm 49 years old, and I live in the Turkish town of Tekirdağ (Note from OneSoil: it's located 200 km to the east of Istanbul). This is my nephew, Yigit Bohur. He's 32. Our family has been in the agricultural business for hundreds of years; since the Ottoman Empire. Our ancestors started farming in Bulgaria until they moved to Turkey in 1942. In the 1960s, they began trading agricultural commodities and, in 1971, established a wheat flour mill. It operated until 2014. After that, we bought a 200-hectare farm and started cultivating wheat and sunflower.

In Turkey, grains and oilseeds are usually sold 4 to 5 months after harvesting. Immediately after the harvest, the supply level is so high that traders and factories tend to lower prices. That's why farmers like us, who have enough storage space, prefer to wait a bit rather than sell their crops right away. It's more profitable. Our average income is about 40−45%.

— How does the farm operate? How many people work there?

Yiğit: There are 7 people on our team. In addition to Ümit and me, we've got two other family members working on the farm, Hasim and Sabri. My uncle, Ümit, heads the business. He manages the team, assigns tasks, and collects all the work-related information in Google Sheets. It contains a list of job responsibilities, a lunch menu, and the size of cash bonuses everyone gets.

Our farm equipment includes three tractors — a 144-HP Massey Ferguson, a 145-HP John Deere, and a 100-HP Landini, a combine harvester, seed planters, and a lot of other smaller tools. Our tractors don't have onboard computers. If we need to apply fertilizer and seeds at variable rates, we do so manually. We're always looking for better seeds, fertilizers, and software to increase our profit and to build sustainable agricultural production.
Ümit and Yigit with their employees in the field_OneSoil Blog
Ümit and Yigit with their employees in the field
— What precision farming tools do you use, and how did you come across OneSoil Scouting?

Ümit: At first, we looked at how effective different fertilizers and other inputs were during field scouting. We then started using drones to do mapping and surveying. We benefited a great deal from this type of imagery. We soon found out we could get satellite images.

But it took a lot of time and effort to get and process them (to see NDVI maps). Some websites seem to provide an easy solution for that, but the image you get there isn't detailed. With the size of our farm, obtaining NDVI images was a hard task.

One day, I was scrolling through the App Store for anything about NDVI. I stumbled upon the OneSoil app, and I realized this was it! I told my uncle that he doesn't need to look for Sentinel-2 satellite images anymore! I had found an app. He was so happy, he laughed and cheered like a kid. The app is designed to meet users' needs. You just tap your field on your smartphone and see the vegetation index in just a few seconds. It's so simple!
The drone images the farmers used for surveying previously_OneSoil Blog
One of the drone images. The farmers used them for surveying previously
— Which features of the OneSoil Scouting app and OneSoil web app do you use?

Yiğit: We use both app versions. OneSoil's NDVI maps are the main feature we use. We've even found a correlation between vegetation index and yield. The NDVI index helps us understand how many tons we'll harvest. In one field, for example, the average NDVI index was 0.6. We saw a yield of 5 t/ha there. In fields where the average index was 0.7, we collected 6.5 to 7 t/ha. We also saw that 0.40 NDVI corresponded to 3.5 to 4 t/ha of harvest. We're exploring this trend more in-depth now.

We use the OneSoil platform to track growing degree days and accumulated precipitation, check the weather forecast, and write notes about problem areas.

— Can you think of a particular case when OneSoil helped you detect a field issue?

Ümit: Last year, I managed to spot sclerotinia in one area. We have two wheat fields near each other, and I saw in the OneSoil Scouting app that the NDVI index had dropped for one of them. I headed to the site and found that the disease was the reason.
Philip Kondratenko_OneSoil Agronomist
Philip Kondratenko
OneSoil agronomist
When plants are infected by sclerotinia, they suddenly rot at the base, wilt, and collapse. Most often, wheat is exposed to this disease at two times. One time is in the early winter before the soil has frozen. The other is during the thaw when the temperature is low, and there is excess soil moisture.

To get rid of the disease, you need to weed the field and plow it.

It’s crucial to choose the right dates for sowing, maintain crop rotation, and apply fertilizer on time as prevention methods.
— I've heard from my co-workers that you teach other farmers how to use the OneSoil app. How do you do that?

Ümit: When we learned how to use the app, we decided to tell the world about it. We have friends who also grow wheat, so we’ve started to invite them to our office and teach them how to use OneSoil. We usually say, "If you use the app like we do, you’ll increase your profit." After meeting with us, people often start spreading the word about the app.
Teaching how to use OneSoil straight in the field_OneSoil Blog
Teaching how to use OneSoil straight in the field
We have a neighbor, Salomi, who’s 70 years old and uses OneSoil. One time, we saw him showing the app to his friends and saying excitedly, "Look, I’m viewing my farmland with a satellite!"

At the end of our conversation, we’d like to add that all of us working in agriculture — farmers, IT specialists, and scientists — should pursue the same goal: supplying humankind with food and making quality food products available to everyone.

Interview conducted by Tanya Alipchikova
Illustrations created by Dasha Sazanovich
Article layout by Anton Sidorov
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