CU LTIVATION AND TECHNOLOGY Ten tons extra within five years should be possible with precision technology and cultivation optimisation ter. Using that data, we’ve drawn up digital maps, which show that winter wheat yields can vary between 2 and 12 tons per hectare. In the sandy areas of the plot, in a dry year the wheat plants get almost burned here, and the yields are negligible’, Van der Wekken outlines the situation on the BurghHaamstede location. The yield can still improve a lot To understand and deal with the significant soil variations, a few years ago Thes Agro invested in their first GPS systems on some of their machines. Not only the combine harvester got one, but also the John Deere tractors and the Agrifac field crop sprayer. ‘With the available GPS data on the machinery, we were initially able to map the soil and yield differences. How much more are you going to sow, fertilise and spray in the productive places and how much less in the poor ones? What applies to wheat, naturally, also applies to the other crops we grow here. The potato is becoming an increasingly important part of the cropping plan. If we could optimise the yield of this crop on every single square metre, I know for sure that we’d make enormous progress’, is Van der Wekken’s firm belief. ‘The average yield is currently 50 tons per hectare. I know that on the better parts of the plots, the yield can improve quite a bit.’ At the moment, it involves the cultivation of potato varieties for the processing industry such as Agria, Fontane and Ramos. One-to-one relationship between yield maps and soil composition With the aim of realising a speedy yield increase, last year Thes Agro went ahead with the Ten Ton plus (TT) concept of Last autumn, Thes Agro invested in the necessary GPS equipment to be able to plant the seed at varying distances on the basis of the yield potential maps. the Van Iperen company in Westmaas. This concerns a sophisticated, specialist crop advice programme for crop farms which, with the help of precision technology, aims to optimise their crop yields, explains Randy Wilbrink, Project Leader Precision Farming. ‘The large plots of the crop farms in the ancient Dutch polders such as here in Burgh-Haamstede are almost all the result of land redistribution projects from long ago. Light and heavy soil including ditches, canals and access roads were joined together after radical redistribution of land after the catastrophic floods here at Schouwen-Duiveland in 1953. The result was plots with a randomly-varied soil composition. We’ve acquired considerable experience with precision farming in our extended working area in the south-western part of the Netherlands in recent years. We’ve combined all the relevant knowledge into our own approach under the heading TT con‘At this location on our farm, the clay fraction of the soil in one plot can vary from 3 to 20 percent,’ says Johan van der Wekken (2nd from the left). 36 Potato World 2017 • number 3 Pagina 39

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