It’s full of IT technology here’ CU LTIVATION AND TECHNOLOGY With regard to fertilisation, 400 kilograms of the mixed fertiliser NK (16-32) was initially applied. Agronomist and grower decide on more or less One trip with the Precision Hawk costs 15 euros per hectare, which is 60 euros per season. If this is deducted from the extra proceeds of 210 euros per hectare, the profit of the precision technique used is then 150 euros net per hectare, Jannick Pelle calculates. in the driest part, based also on measurements with a Veris scanner from the Agrometius company. This Veris scanner is also an instrument that fits well in the precision farming story. It’s a large measuring device that can be linked to the three-point lifting mechanism of a tractor. The Veris Scanner maps soil data every 10 metres through a subsoiler, discs and NIRS sensors. These include pH, organic matter content and electrical conductivity. This last measurement provides insight into the moisture balance of the soil. So it was already known prior to the trial that, in dry weather conditions, it might be necessary to irrigate this part of the plot. In mid-June, the moisture sensor of Peter Raatjes’ specialist company RMA indicated that the moisture content in the soil had dropped to a level that was too low, which is why the precision farming plot was irrigated on 22 June. On 28 June, we had over 50 millimetres of rain, which meant the soil was well saturated. There was sufficient and timely rainfall after the hot period to keep the moisture within green parameters, so that the crop could continue to grow without any problems. In mid-June, based on the task map, an NK-fertiliser top dressing was applied on the precision plot. The task map was created using images made by the aircraft-drone. In spots where less foliage was measured, less artificial fertiliser was applied and vice versa. This choice, too, was made in consultation with the farm manager and according to the advice of the agronomist. You see, the instruments are our eyes and they measure the differences. Decisions on using a bit more or less agent or fertiliser should be taken by the grower himself and depend on a great many other factors, such as the history of the plot, soil composition, the variety, the purpose of cultivation, etc. For example, fertilisation is also done according to crop potential. In the Emmeloord trials, based on soil samples, we kept the standard application the same for the entire plot. After that, more top dressing was applied locally in spots were the crop was developing better than in spots where development was slightly behind. Finally, just before harvesting, the plot was given location-specific spraying with a haulm killer’, explains Pelle. The images made by the aircraft-drone and the resultant task map served as a basis for this. ‘We often used the drone for advance trials. In hindsight, about half of the flying trips were unnecessary. As far as we’ve been able to see, four trips per season are sufficient.’ One trip with the Precision Hawk costs 15 euros per hectare, which is 60 euros per season. If this is deducted from the extra proceeds of 210 euros per hectare, the profit of the precision technique used is then 150 euros net per hectare, Pelle calculates. ‘But I haven’t included the lower costs of haulm killing yet’, the happy project manager laughs. When it comes to disease recognition, no experience has yet been gained in the field at Emmeloord. However, developments in this domain are moving fast, Pelle is learning. ‘We The harvesting conditions were too awful on Thursday and measuring yields was impossible, according to the participants in the harvest demonstration. Potato World 2017 • number 4 17 Pagina 16

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