Shropshire farm management adviser Jon Birchall is putting cutting edge fertiliser application technology to work after winning a Fritzmeier ISARIA system in a national competition organised by CF Fertilisers UK Ltd.
The system is being used at the 1500-acre Sundorne Estate near Shrewsbury which he manages through its agent, Balfours LLP.
BASIS and FACTS registered, Jon took delivery of the machine in February and has already used it to scan crops of oilseed rape, winter wheat, winter barley and forage rye to evaluate growth, analyse yield maps and plan fertiliser applications.
“One of the main reasons for wanting to trial the new Fritzmeier ISARIA technology is to compare the performance of the fertiliser N applications it recommends with current farm policy, because we hope this will produce some exciting results,Jon explains.
Initial results from using the system to scan our crops look very encouraging and should help us to farm with even greater precision.
Sundorne Estateis also taking part in the Precision Agriculture project, designed to evaluate the technology under UK agronomic conditions.
The project is funded by Innovate UK and involves a consortium of partners led by CFFertilisers and including ADAS UK, Chris Harry-Thomas Consulting, Hill CourtFarm Research, Patchwork Technology, Precise Crop Nutrition and Syngenta UK.
ISARIA combines real time crop sensing and yield potential mapping to make precision N applications, the crop’s N requirement being determined in real time,regardless of any previous N applications, by the reflectivity of its biomass.
The ISARIA crop sensor measures Nitrogen uptake and optimises the application rates of Nitrogen fertiliser across cereal and oilseed rape crops, resulting in improved yields and grain quality due to managing in-field variations.
Precision application of Nitrogen also reduces lodging, promotes even ripening and helps improve combine performance.
Developed by the Fritzmeier Umwelttechnik in Germany, the ISARIA machine comprises a 6.9m-wide boom which is carried on the tractors front linkage and incorporates two infra-red sensors, each of which scans a strip of crop and measures reflectance within the leaf, regardless of crop type or variety.
The systems advanced opto-electronic sensor technology has been combined with decades of farming knowledge to create a system which determines the exact nutritional conditions of crops at the time of fertiliser application.
Data from the ISARIA sensing heads is transmitted to a tablet computer in the cab via Bluetooth, avoiding the need for cables running along the side of the tractor and into the cab.
This information is then used to automatically control a fertiliser spreader or sprayer which is equipped with a variable-rate facility.