Variable grain fertilization with a profit of up to 10 euros per hectare in experimental

Variable grain fertilization with a profit of up to 10 euros per hectare in experimental

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

These remarks were made, among others, by the presenters during the relevant information day organized last Monday, May 8 by the Institute of Industrial Plants and Livestock of ELGO – Dimitra, in the presence of farmers from all the region.

The basis of a farmer’s transition to precision farming systems, as stated by Dr. Eleftherios Evangelou, mandated researcher of ELGO-Dimitra at IVKF, is the variability of the soil at the field boundaries, as it allows, thanks to digital. tools, crop management in terms of fertilization, plant protection and irrigation according to its real needs.

“The first tool many farmers use to transition from conventional farming systems to precision farming systems are yield maps of a field, as they also show the economic outcome in each section,” noted Mr. Evangelou, adding that in 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 maize, pointing out that the main problem is that the algorithms needed for variable dose decisions, is still under development.

Citing however the results of a research program of the Museum, which began 8 years ago, with the use of data from satellites, algorithms and a precision fertilizer distributor for variable doses of nitrogen fertilizer, the speaker said that in a wheat crop in Nea Lefki, Thessaly, 38% less fertilization was recorded compared to the control, 1% higher yield, 30% higher utilization of nitrogen fertilizer by the plant, 14% higher use by the plant of the nitrogen of the fertilizer fallen on the ground and 97 euros more income per hectare. This amount is in fact with the fertilizer prices of 2017, which means that with the current data the financial 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 return 77 euros higher per hectare, while in maize there was a 24% reduction in fertilization use, a 4% increase in crop yield, 61% less residual nitrogen and 78 euros per hectare more profit .

The team of Mr. Stamatiadis, as he revealed, has made progress over the last 3 years to improve the system, having developed a prototype which allows a variable dose in liquid fertilization and they will test it from this year on 3 maize crops, with interventions starting 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 sector’s relevant market for 2023 is estimated at 10.63 billion dollars, with the prospect of reaching 26 .8 billion by 2030.

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

Referring also to two examples of the application of precision agriculture in the United States, the speaker indicated that in cotton and corn, using variable rates, an increase in the efficiency of irrigation of 40%, a reduction in irrigation water of up to 60% and an increase in production of up to 10%, while in research on the cultivation of apples and pears, with variable fertilization, it 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% thanks to artificial intelligence

The software that can create images of the field and act as an “x-ray” of agricultural production, to identify possible crop problems, through vegetation indicators, so that through their automation, data can be obtained for the implementation of their treatment, was mentioned Vassilis Polychronos, technical director of Geosense IKE.

“What we identify is the problem, whether it’s the fertilization or the phytosanitary protection of the field. Then the agronomist, after seeing the problem, will demonstrate the treatment, define the dosage and we come and do the application, depending on the management areas of the field,” explained the speaker.

He also mentioned new tools, based on artificial intelligence, which allow the automatic detection of weeds at the level of the preparation of the field for planting, or just after it has been done, a stage at which, as he pointed out, it’s easy to control them chemically with a sprayer drone or a tractor.

“For the farmer, all this means a reduction in costs. 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 labor intensive. And in the end we’re talking about an average increase in production of about 10% to 15% and of course we also have a lower chemical footprint on the environment which is a side benefit , not exactly measurable today, but it certainly exists, since fewer inputs are going to the field,” Polychronos pointed out.

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

“The innovation of air spraying results in faster implementation of the intervention. We switch to an automatic mode, no exposure to pesticides of the producers, remote application above the ground to avoid its compression, which gives us a reduction in the spray solution, easy application directly to the field, centimeter precision in pass by pass and supervision of working remotely, via a platform, “said the speaker. He also noted that It is a proven solution in many open crops such as corn, cotton, wheat, clover, sunflower, rice and trees such as olives, citrus and kiwi.

Better than conventional sprays

The results, based on the testimonies of growers, but also with the tests carried out by AgroHellas, he pointed out, are better than conventional sprays in almost all practices. “Oil costs, labor costs are reduced, there is no mess, you don’t have to do the services like with an agricultural tractor and in some applications of protection products crops, we have a reduction of up to 30% to 40% compared to what is written on the label,” he said.

The German fertilizer distributor Rauch, represented in Greece by Agricom – Botsaropoulos, was presented by Nikos Mylonas, agronomist and director of the company’s commercial department. “We have worked with Rauch for almost ten years and at first we did not think there could be precision variable rate fertilizer spreading. However, it is valid with the specific attachment. by two things.The first is that there is a lesser load on the field’s chemicals and water resources, since it is 20% to 25% less fertilizer that will fall, because the application is totally targeted. The second is that the smaller dose reduces the cost of cultivation for the farmer, because today fertilizers are expensive,” he said, among other things.

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