Objectives of the service
The inherited spatial and temporal variation of soil properties and nutrients is critical for determining variable rate strategies for crop production, but is typically derived from soil samples collected at insufficient resolution (typically 1 soil samples per 1-3 hectare). This leads to limited characterisation of within-field soil variability, thus often results in poor crop and land management. The proposed system addresses this in two ways; 1) utilising a new and innovative on-line soil sensor to collect geo-referenced, high sampling resolution data (~1500 readings per ha) on key soil properties, 2) integration of soil data with other information such as satellite imagery of crop growth and development, weather data, topography and yield maps, to develop algorithms to determine rules for variable rate applications. These can then be implemented within the soil and crop information system. The vision for the final commercial system would be a web based portal that would allow end users (farmers, growers, etc) to manage data upload and storage, then to select appropriate "rules" for their specific location and chosen crop using science-based decisions. The resulting treatment maps would then be uploaded to precision-agriculture compatible implements for application of inputs.
Users and their needs
The main users of FarmingTruth are farmers and agri-food businesses. Other users are agronomists or advisors, farming associations, consultants, machinery manufacturers and dealers of farming equipment. FarmingTruth will target both farm types where precision farming implemented and those where precision farming is not implemented. FarmingTruth customers include both those who already use earth observation/global navigation satellite system data and those who do not yet. Two farms in the UK and Denmark are the partner farms of the feasibility study. The user base will be expanded to involve other end users in Europe and beyond during a possible demonstration stage.
Service/ system concept
The following services are planned for the FarmingTruth:
- Variable rate fertilisation recommendations of N, P and K,
- Variable rate fertilisation recommendations of soil micro elements
- Recommendation for lime application
Products of FarmingTruth including a yield map, yield potential an soil property maps will be provided via Cranfield University's web based soil and crop information system, which will be designed to be easily integrated into existing farmers management software (FMIS) using standard data protocols (e.g. agroXML, XML or CSV).
Space Added Value
FarmingTruth combines high resolution soil information, geo-tagged by GNSS, with satellite derived crop information for the first time, in an integrated precision farming service. The integration of data on soil, crop cover, yield, topography and weather furnish the farmers with ground truth decisions on variable applications of chemical fertilisers, which is hoped to reduce input cost and increase yield. Information about crop cover collected with satellite assets is expected to be faster and less costly as compared with information collected by ground based sensors only. The field measurement using in-line sensor and GNSS is performed at most once per season, after the harvest. EO data is then used to generate and update variable rate recommendations throughout the season.
Feasibility study concluded successfully on 18 March 2013. Due to the positive results, the team is in the process of preparing an ARTES 20 demonstration project