Variable fertilization of grains with a benefit of up to 10 euros per hectare in experimental

By | May 14, 2023

Smart agriculture is showing its credentials in the field and is the necessary “vehicle” for the transition from the primary sector to the next day, which requires greater efficiency and quality in the field and a sustainable agricultural production system.

These statements were advanced, among others, by the presenters of the relevant information conference organized last Monday, May 8 by the Institute of Industrial and Livestock Plants of ELGO – Dimitra, in the presence of farmers from the broad region.

The basis for a farmer’s transition to precision agriculture systems, as stated by Dr. Eleftherios Evangelou, ELGO-Dimitra commissioned researcher at the IVKF, is the variability of the soil at the field boundaries, as it allows, at through tools, crop management at the level of fertilization, plant protection and irrigation based on their real needs.

“The first tool that many farmers use to go from conventional farming systems to precision farming systems are yield maps of a field, because they also show the economic result in each section,” said Mr. Evangelou, and He added that Compared to the past, the big change now is the development of technology.

Dr. Stamatis Stamatiadis, from the Goulandri Natural History Museum, focused on the effectiveness of variable nitrogen fertilization technologies in crops such as wheat, cotton and corn, noting that the main issue is that the algorithms required for dose decisions variables, is still under development.

Invoking, however, the results of a Museum research program, which began 8 years ago, using satellite data, algorithms, and a precision fertilizer distributor for variable doses of nitrogenous fertilizer, the speaker said that in a wheat crop in Nea Lefki, Thessaly, 38% less fertilization compared to control, 1% higher yield, 30% higher plant fertilizer utilization, 14% higher utilization by the plant from the nitrogen from the fertilizer that fell to the ground and 97 euros more in income per hectare. This amount is in fact with the fertilizer prices of 2017, which means that with current data, the economic benefit is even higher by 15 to 20 euros per hectare, compared to conventional fertilization.

For the cotton crop, respectively, the fertilizer reduction was 33%, the yield 6% higher, the residual nitrogen 60% lower compared to the “control” and the economic yield 77 euros per hectare higher, while in the corn there was a 24% reduction in the use of fertilization, a 4% increase in crop yield, 61% less residual nitrogen and 78 euros per hectare of greater benefit.

Mr. Stamatiadis’s team, as revealed, has made progress in the last 3 years to improve the system, having developed a prototype that allows variable doses in liquid fertilization and will test it starting this year in 3 maize crops, with the interventions to start in the next few days.

Precision agriculture at the international level was analyzed by Vasilios Liakos, assistant professor at the University of Thessaly, noting that the relevant market of the sector for 2023 is estimated at 10.630 million dollars, with the prospect of reaching 26.800 million dollars by 2030 .

“The new trend in the field is the use of artificial intelligence applications. A 2023 survey showed that these apps are mainly used to plan vehicle routes within fields and to monitor fields. On the contrary, the percentages related to the use of artificial intelligence for the cultivation process and production harvest are lower,” said Mr. Liakos, stressing that the future brings control systems, image analysis and sensors, as well as optical systems.

Also referring to two examples of the application of precision agriculture in the United States, the speaker said that in cotton and corn, using variable rates, an increase in irrigation efficiency was achieved by 40%, a reduction in the irrigation water up to 60% and an increase in production of up to 10%, while in the apple and pear crop research, with variable fertilization, there was a 20% increase in fertilization efficiency, a 30% reduction in the amount of fertilizer and an increase in production of up to 5%

Average productivity increase of 15% with artificial intelligence

Software was developed that can generate images of the field and act as an “X-ray” of agricultural production, to identify any crop problem, through vegetation indicators, so that data for implementation can be obtained through its automation. of your treatment. mentioned Vassilis Polychronos, technical director of Geosense IKE.

“What we identify is the problem, be it fertilization or the plant protection of the field. Then the agronomist, after seeing the problem, will demonstrate the treatment, defining the dosage and we will proceed to make the application, based on the areas of field management”, explained the speaker.

He also mentioned some new tools, based on artificial intelligence, that allow the automatic detection of weeds at the level of preparation of the field for planting, or just after having done so, stage in which, according to him, it is easy to control them chemically with a spray drone or a tractor.

“For the farmer, all this means cost reduction. We are talking about a minimum of 5%-10% and I think a very significant reduction in time, because we know that these applications are very labor intensive. And in the end we are talking about an average increase in production of around 10-15% and of course we also have a smaller chemical footprint in the environment, which is a secondary benefit, not exactly measurable today, but it certainly exists, since fewer inputs go to the field”, highlighted Mr. Polychronos.

Charalambos Miliotis, from Agrotech Bozatzidis-Mitsiolides, which represents “DJI” in Greece, focused on the use of drones and other precision agriculture applications, to carry out phytosanitary spraying operations on a number of crops, arable, but also woody. “flagship company” of sprayers worldwide.

“The innovation of spraying with air results in a faster implementation of the intervention. We went to an automatic mode, no exposure to pesticides from the producers, remote application on the ground to avoid its compression, which gives us a reduction of the spraying solution, easy application directly in the field, centimeter precision in step by step and supervision of working remotely, through a platform”, said the speaker. He also pointed out that this is a proven solution in many open crops such as corn, cotton, wheat, clover, sunflower, rice and trees such as olive, citrus and kiwi.

Better than conventional sprays

The results, based on the testimonials of the producers, but also with the tests carried out by AgroHellas, he emphasized, are better than conventional fumigations in almost all practices. “Oil costs are reduced, labor costs, there is no damage, it is not necessary to do services like with an agricultural tractor and in some applications of phytosanitary products we have a reduction of up to 30%-40% of what what is written on the label,” he said.

The German fertilizer distributor Rauch, represented in Greece by Agricom – Botsaropoulos, was introduced by Nikos Mylonas, agronomist and director of the company’s commercial department. “We have been working with Rauch for almost ten years and at first we did not believe that there could be a precision variable rate fertilizer. However, it is valid with the specific accessory. And this results in two things. The first is that there is a lower load on the chemical elements of the field and the water resources, since it is 20% to 25% less fertilizer that will fall, because the application is totally directed. The second is that the lower dose reduces the cost of the crop for the farmer, because today fertilizers are expensive, ”he said, among other things.

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