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The use of digital information, such as in site-specific application used for fertilisation, has become an integral part of modern agriculture. Automatic documentation makes everyday work much easier for many farmers. But many people are asking the question of whether sensor or satellite data is the best choice. We have summarised the key arguments for you.
Why is site-specific cultivation with a plant sensor or satellite useful?
Your soil is one of the most variable production factors in your business. Different soil types, water content and other environmental influences can cause the yield potential of different sites in the same field to fluctuate significantly. Despite farmers’ many years of experience, they often underestimate the considerable differences between the yield zones within a field. As a result, it is difficult for them to achieve pinpoint and demand-based spreading of seeds, fertiliser and pesticides. Modern techniques for automatic recording of different sites enable precise site-specific cultivation of the entire field, whether or not the farmer has extensive experience to fall back on. Nevertheless, the system allows an experienced farmer to incorporate their own evaluations. This enables you to increase your yields by precisely nurturing more productive sites, while improving the efficiency of the application quantity you use. At the same time, you can ensure you realise the full yield potential at all times.
Plant sensor or satellite – what are the benefits of each system?
Particularly for fertilisation, it is essential to respond to the current nitrogen uptake at the individual sites in the field. This is the only way to positively influence your crop. It is possible to nurture locations with high yield potential with additional fertilisation or to fertilise poorly developed plants more to homogenise the crop. Either strategy will only be effective if you base it on the latest crop information. There are different ways of creating the digital maps for this site-specific fertilisation. The options are to use the data from a plant sensor or from a satellite.
An initial step is to use satellite photos, with corresponding maps available in ISARIA CONNECT. As well as the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), which represents the biomass index, the ISARIA CONNECT data management system provides important data such as temperature and precipitation trends for your crops.
Using satellite photos has the following advantages and disadvantages.
- Good introduction to site-specific cultivation
- Data rapidly available
- Initial experience with application map creation in ISARIA CONNECT possible
- Lower entry costs but no amortisation
- Good for long-term analyses
- Cloud cover or an unfavourable location (satellites fly over some regions less) means that current satellite photos are often not available at the required time
- NDVI tends towards saturation -> In some growth stages differences in the crop are no longer detectable
- Shadowed woodland edges change the result (important: to create good satellite photos the headland has to be cropped due to marginal influences)
- Different interpolation methods mean that woodland edges / strips of meadow / imperfections influence the yield potential map for the entire field
- Particularly in its early development, the crop can change very significantly within a few days. In the spring, a seven day old satellite photo does not depict the current state of the crop. A satellite only flies over a site every 5 days on average.
Advantages of plant sensors in site-specific cultivation
Because of these limitations and inaccuracies, the additional use of a plant sensor such as the ISARIA PRO Active or the ISARIA PRO Compact is recommended. These sensors are attached directly to the tractor and detect the biomass index and the nitrogen uptake index in real time while driving over the field. Based on this measured real time data and the selected fertiliser strategy/pesticide strategy, the application quantity is then determined and transferred to the application device. The data measured using the ISARIA PRO Compact and ISARIA PRO Active can be managed in ISARIA CONNECT, giving you an overview of all the data for your crop. Automatic documentation of your fertiliser and pesticide application is a key component of ISARIA CONNECT and is officially recognised.
A sensor has several advantages over satellite photos.
- Ready to use immediately at any time
- Not influenced by cloud cover
- Reflects the current condition of the crop
- Application quantity can be overridden at any time while driving
- Everything in a single operation: measuring, calculation, application
- Records biomass index and N uptake index
- No saturation even in later vegetation stages thanks to N uptake index
- Control of application device no problem even without ISOBUS
- No transfer of previously created application maps to the tractor terminal necessary
Time savings -> No preceding application map calculation on a PC
Improve the yield and quality of your harvest using sensor-based fertilisation with real time recording of the crop
The advantages of an ISARIA plant sensor attached to the tractor over satellite maps are clear. You get up-to-date, accurate and reliable data for your fertilisation. In addition, you can save historic data such as soil maps or yield maps on the terminal, which are then taken into account during fertilisation with the plant sensor. This gives you reliable and successful fertiliser application. Therefore, using an ISARIA plant sensor is highly recommended, especially for quality application on cereal crops. Here, up-to-date data is hugely important. With the ISARIA system you do not have to depend on past data more than five days old; you can see the current condition of your crops.
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