The ‘Toward precision agriculture 2.0’ research programme has included a group of potato farmers carrying out test runs with sensor observations by drones. The drone images show exactly where they should apply more or less nitrogen on their fields, allowing farmers to use the product more efficiently.
“Dutch potato farmers apply an average of some 250 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare per year,” says Frits van Evert, expert in precision agriculture at Wageningen University & Research. “It is applied in one session, just before or just after planting. Because weather conditions in the Netherlands vary significantly, more nitrogen may be lost in one year compared to another. In other words, the 250 kilos can be way too much, or much too little; it is rarely exactly the right amount.”