Arable News

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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Payback strong for precision technology in backward season

With the large variability seen across farms and indeed across fields this year, if there is any season where precision farming comes into its own then it has to be this one. Any tool that will help management decisions to optimise what we have got must be of value, says Ian Matts, Company Agronomist at Yara.

Nitrogen use efficiency will be a key driver of optimum nitrogen rates this season where rooting has been impacted. The Yara N Sensor can help to measure this by indicating the level of nitrogen taken up by a crop from the previous application. This will be very important in a year when poor weather and ground conditions have affected uptake of the first application.

The N Sensor is being used on over 200 UK farms, continues Mr Matts, and 186 trials show the average yield advantage is 3.1% with a surprisingly low break-even point of 125ha of combinable crops.

In trials Yara have seen increases in nitrogen use efficiency, with the N Sensor delivering higher yields whilst using less fertilizer than uniform applications. One set of trials in oilseeds showed a 27kg N/ha reduction in average nitrogen use over three seasons and a 0.17 t/ha (4%) yield increase from the Absolute-N calibration. Another set in wheat showed a 12.7% reduction in nitrogen use over 4 seasons with a 6.9% yield increase, says Mr Matts.

The N sensor determines a crop’s Nitrogen demand by measuring the crop’s light reflectance as the tractor passes over. Using this information the N Sensor can translate the data into an application rate and send a signal to the spreader or sprayer rate controller, which will adjust the levels of application across the field. It is also worth noting that, unlike other remote sensing systems, it has calibrations for the spring crops as well including cereals and oilseeds.

With such variability across counties and even from one field to another on the same farm and with no easy measure of root biomass, then the crop itself is still the best measure of nitrogen requirement. The N sensor is a precision tool that has proven to deliver nitrogen to where it is needed most to bring forward an even crop while improving nitrogen efficiency, he concludes.

 


  • Written by: Farmers Guide
  • Posted:
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