It’s full of IT technology here’ CU LTIVATION AND TECHNOLOGY explains how this was achieved at the Case IH location in Swifterbant on the cancelled first day of PotatoEurope. Pelle is responsible for the precision farming project at Case IH Benelux, and supervised two students from the Aeres Agricultural College in Dronten. Together, they received support from agronomists who work for the Agrifirm cooperative. Traction strength calculation for base map The precision farming project at PotatoEurope had already started in the autumn of last year with ploughing the plot as the main tillage activity, the project supervisor tells us. ‘During the ploughing, the ground resistance was determined with the help of “standard” measurement techniques that were already present in the Case IH and Steyr tractors. We know that engine load and fuel use per hectare per hour reflect a value for the traction strength of the soil. These measurement data in turn tell us everything about the soil structure in a plot. In the Case IH Advance Farming System (AFS), we link the measured traction strength calculations to our own RTK-GPS system via CAN bus. This ultimately makes it possible to create a task map that forms the basis for follow-up work such as planting. With this measurement method, we assume that the plant encounters the same resistance in the soil as the plough’, explains Pelle. ‘In fact, it is a relatively inexpensive system to map the condition of the soil “, Pelle explains this new way of working. In the potato field in Emmeloord, it was decided to plant at smaller distances on the heavier parts of the plot and at larger distances on the lighter parts. Pelle explains that the choice was not a matter of guesswork. ‘We based these distances on the advice of the grower and the agronomist.’ No guesswork Engine load and fuel use per hectare per hour reflect a value for the resistance of the soil. These measurement data in turn tell us everything about the soil structure in a plot. On the basis of the soil task map from the tractor, a trial field was laid out in spring in which seed potatoes of the Innovator variety were planted at different distances. It was decided to plant at smaller distances on the heavier parts of the plot and at larger distances on the lighter parts. Pelle explains that the choice was not a matter of guesswork. ‘We based these distances on the advice of the grower, in this case Ton Kempenaar of Aeres Agricultural College, and the agronomists from Agrifirm. They know from experience that the lighter plot areas at this location have more growth potential than the heavier ones. If you are a farmer on sandy soil in the province of Brabant, the choice might well be the opposite.’ In this project, they chose three planting distances: 27, 30 and 33 centimetres. ‘We hoped that this would lead to a uniform crop, and we succeeded. In the beginning, we had a few doubts about this, because the potatoes in the three trial sections emerged at different times. Eventually, growth evened out and that’s exactly what you want to achieve. This uniform crop growth gives the required advantages in terms of further crop management. Each plant will then be in a similar growing stage and that’s very important for the equal absorption and action of chemicals and nutrients’, says Pelle. It is about ENDVI images In order to ensure that crop management is carried out as optimally as possible, the trial plot was closely monitored with an aircraft-drone. This is a Precision Hawk with which Pelle, as a contract worker and qualified pilot, makes aerial photographs. ‘This aircraft has been fitted with a modern camera which allows us to measure plant height, number of plants, green index, and a wealth of other data. We then process the images with a number of algorithms and the results are converted into task maps. The drone flew regularly over the potato crop from the end of May until the end of June. The images of three different sets of data show the visible growth differences in the field. The pictures here are ENDVI images, which show the growth activity of the potato plant. The images showed that the crop had suffered from drought. In June, a moisture sensor was installed ENDVI images are best for showing the growth activity of the potato plant. The images showed that the crop had suffered from drought. 16 Potato World 2017 • number 4 Pagina 15

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