A consortium of UK businessesled by GrowHow UK has been awarded funding to support the development of anautomated system for the precision application of nitrogen (N) fertiliser andplant growth regulators (PGRs). Half of the 1million plus required to developthe new precision farming technology is being funded by InnovateUK (the newname for the Technology Strategy Board).
The other partners in thisexciting and innovative project are ADAS, Precise Crop Nutrition, Patchwork,Syngenta, Chris Harry-Thomas Consultancy and Hill Court Farm Research.
Part of the research willinvolve further developing and testing the ISARIA precision input system whichhas been developed by the German company Fritzmeier Umwelttechnik. The ISARIAsystem is an intelligent tractor-mounted crop sensor for the variable applicationof nitrogen fertiliser, with potential to be used on other crop inputs such as PGRs.The technology has been proven under German climatic conditions but extensivefield scale trials and small plot experiments are required to create softwareappropriate to UK agriculture.
Over three years, the projectwill work on developing automated systems to measure N fertiliser requirementsfor cereals and OSR and the PGR requirements in OSR. Specific algorithms and softwarewill be created to integrate historic yield and soil map information, soilmineral nitrogen (SMN) and additionally available nitrogen (AAN) measurementswith ISARIA real-time crop sensor data, to provide the most accuratepredictions of N fertiliser and PGR requirement.
The team is currently lookingfor suitable trial sites with a geographical spread to develop and test thesystem in a range of weather and soil types. Growers who have the interest andappetite to participate in these trials and can satisfy a range of criteriaincluding yield mapping capability, historic yield, grass and manure data, soiltexture maps and a field of at least 20ha preferably in 1st wheatwith variability along the tramline. If you think you fit the bill then please callthe GrowHow advice line on 0151 357 5758.
GrowHow agronomist AllisonGrundy said: The consortium is thrilled to have won the opportunity to developthis new precision farming technology for UK farmers. I am confident that thetechnology has the potential to improve nutrient use efficiency and thereforeimprovements in yield and quality for growers.
Chris Harry-Thomas, a farmer andprecision agriculture specialist, believes it will be a fantastic technology. Hecommented that it is being proven and tested under UK conditions and will be adaptedfor our maritime climate, soils and crops, making it unique to Britishagriculture.
ADAS crop physiologists SarahKendall and Pete Berry see this as a great opportunity to better understand howto predict nitrogen fertiliser and PGR requirements, so these crop inputs canbe targeted more accurately on both a field-by-field and metre-by-metre basis.