Precision Crop Farming

Geospatial variability not valorized enough in practice

At present, there are too few cost efficient non-destructive tools for monitoring biomass, biotic and abiotic stress in crops. Precision Crop Farming (PCF) allows farmers to quantify the spatial variability within a field. The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and teledetection can allow a farmer to adjust his nutriënt, water and pest management actions to inter- and intra-field variability. Satellite data have too low resolution and lack translation to concrete information and management tools for farmers. The technology to work location-specific is often available, but the information (e.g., yield maps) to carry out location-specific crop management is lacking.

Need for crop information and associated tools for plant breeding and exploitation

Predicting the yield and the botanical composition of grassland at any given moment in the growing season will improve the exploitation of grassland and lead to a higher profit. Important factors for this are timing of mowing, fertilizing and reseeding and fertilizer dose. In grassland breeding, different phases are discerned: (i) visual evaluation of individual grass plants, (ii) visual evaluation of selected grass plants in a clone field and (iii) destructive determination of yield and feed quality (NIRS) in yield plots via a Haldrup harvester. Every year dozens of fields with thousands of individual plants and clones are planted and different yield experiments are sown. Detection of (soil-bound) diseases in potato is crucial for maximizing yield and quality in regular production, but also for the production of seed potatoes. The spotwise occurrence of these diseases hinder early detection and local treatment. Both in grassland and potato cultivation, there is a need for objective criteria, based on plant physiology, which make it possible to evaluate plants/crops in a fast way with high resolution.

The ILVO drone at work