In today’s agriculture, nature protection, and cost efficiency are the two most important aspects. By applying precision farming methods, it is possible to implement the mentioned features. In addition to the production of high-quality and high-quantity crops, the rate of return can also be improved by reducing expenses. Seed, fertilizer, and plant protection agents applied in larger than ideal quantities are all avoidable extra costs, and by minimizing their application, the environmental impact can be reduced.
The main goal is to apply the right amount of input material in the right place where it’s needed. Even within an agricultural field, the soil can have a great diversity. In order to optimize the utilization of the field, it must be divided into smaller areas according to the different soil qualities. The parts divided in this way are called Μanagement Ζones. They are a few hectares in size, depending on the size and variety of the area. For their preparation, yield map data, NDVI satellite images and, if available, NDVI orthophotos are required. The more data that can be used, the more precisely it is possible to plan for the given area.
Soil sampling is then carried out in the prepared zones. An average sample consisting of several sub-samples is collected from each zone, which comes from the top 30-centimeter layer of the soil. After the samples are sent to the laboratory, the results of the soil properties of the given zone are produced after various laboratory tests are performed. In this way, it is possible to see the optimal use goals of the parts of the field with differentiated productivity.
If there are significant differences between the zones of the board, two methods can be used. One is homogenization, during which the areas with better and worse capabilities are balanced. Another option is the heterogeneous direction, during which the different soil capabilities of the management zones are emphasized. An example of the latter method is the application of the differentiated sowing of plants so that a denser plant population is placed in the zones with better ability, while less in the weaker zones. In addition, of course, one of the main aspects is the precision solution of fertilizer application, which can also be adapted to the abilities of the zones to apply nutrients with the ideal composition and amount, during which one of the heterogeneous and homogeneous trends is also applied. Propagation material and fertilizer can be saved with this method.
A carefully executed precision crop cultivation with ideal agro-techniques requires less chemical plant protection, which also reduces the environmental impact. With the help of these methods, the economy increases, we spare the soils, and agricultural cultivation is carried out in a sustainable manner.
*Image Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281669015_Evaluation_of_management_zones_for_site-specific_application_of_crop_inputs