Optimizing fertilizer application by near-sensing

A tractor-mounted tool allows growers to measure a crop’s nitrogen requirement as the tractor passes across the field and to vary the fertilizer application rate accordingly. The sensor ensures that the right and optimal rate of nitrogen fertilizer is applied at each individual part of the field. It has become the benchmark technology for precision agriculture.
Crops show typical reflection characteristics. These are essentially influenced by the supply of nitrogen. Plants that have a low supply of nitrogen show a lighter green colouring than those that are well-supplied with nitrogen. The sensor is an optical measurement system. With the help of spectral measurements, the differences described can be recorded during the field crossing. The sensor scans the crops to the right and left of the driving lane. With a working width of 24 m, for example, roughly 33 % of the entire crop will be recorded. The information gathered flows then directly to the service software. This calculates the nitrogen recommendation. Increase yields by up to 10 percent over standard farm practices, boosting profits and minimizing environmental losses.

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