UK: Soil scientists at the College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky, conducted studies on the effectiveness of remote-sensing (RS) nitrogen applicators and developed an algorithm to use in the equipment that has proven to increase yields in Kentucky, US.
Remote-sensing technology uses sensors to measure crop canopy conditions and apply the appropriate amount of nitrogen to a particular area as the tractor passes through the field. This technology helps ensure the areas that need nitrogen get it and cuts down on unnecessary applications in areas of the field with sufficient amounts, rather than producers making a blanket application across the field based on the field’s average nitrogen needs.
Since this is new technology, only two states, Oklahoma and Virginia, had algorithms for the machine, but neither worked for Kentucky. With funding from the Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association, Lloyd Murdock, UK Extension soils specialist, developed one for the state.
In field trials, the algorithm increased yields by an average of 3.9 bushels per acre. The total amount of nitrogen used has remained about the same, but is now varied over a field with some locations receiving more or less than others. With these averages and taking into account current wheat prices, producers can expect to get a return of about USD 20 per acre.