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March 28, 2017 << back >>


Precision Spraying, Zone by Zone

Doing the right thing, in the right place, the right way, and at the right time – that’s what precision farming is all about. Precision spraying applications are field-zone-specific solutions to help find the “right place.” Combined with other crop protection solutions, they assist in optimizing the health of farmers’ crops.

How do you achieve the highest economic yield? A very important step is to nourish your plants during their growth phase in a way that is exactly tailored to their needs. In addition to fertilization and the right amount of water, adequate protection from pests and diseases is vital. Applied in the right quantity and at the right time, crop protection products cure and shield plants from unwanted visitors. Modern sprayers are equipped with a variety of innovative features to help farmers apply the spray with the highest precision. “Farmers can’t keep an eye on every zone of their fields all the time,” explains Andreas Johnen, Agronomist at Bayer’s Crop Science division. “Digital farming techniques want to change this so that every plant can be treated at the optimal time and according to its needs, with information like field-specific real-time crop development, disease risk, and precision spraying.”

Using the right dosage

Precision spraying solutions help farmers dispense the exact amount of crop protection product needed. In the case of wheat cultivation, for example, these solutions can assist farmers with the important second fungicide treatment. This treatment is essential for achieving a high yield because it serves to keep the top three leaves healthy – and those flag leaves are responsible for intercepting 45 percent of the total light energy used by wheat plants. During the late stem elongation and ear-emerging phases of the wheat plant’s growth, solutions that deliver field-zone-specific maps will therefore play an important role in the future. Bayer is in the final development phase of its new FIELD MANAGER, a tool that recommends decisions to farmers and supports their implementation. The first version is being tested by a few hundred customers. Among other innovative features, it delivers field-zone-specific maps that can be used at terminals. Read more about all of its features here.

But how does this work? The application uses satellite imagery to calculate the field’s vegetation index. Since this can vary greatly across a field, FIELD MANAGER divides it into sections of nine square meters per pixel, which are then classified by their current amount of vegetation. Based on the result, we develop a map to determine which zone needs which of five different fungicide dosing rates. The resulting data is machine-readable and can be fed directly into the tractor’s terminal to control the spraying device.

And what is the vision here? This tool will allow farmers to always apply the right amount of crop protection product in accordance to the vegetation volume. This will ensure that almost every single leaf is wetted by fungicide, thereby warranting a better harvest. In addition, the application can be reduced in zones with less vegetation because there are fewer leaves and a lower yield potential, thus lowering the overall use of fungicides. That’s not just highly convenient and sustainable, but also helps farmers get the most out of every drop of their fungicide.

Spend less time planning

And the vision goes even further. The application will notify farmers automatically when the calculated time for fungicide treatment is approaching, and will enable them to observe the disease risk status of each field based on weather and field data such as sowing date, crop rotation, and variety. This results in less effort required for planning, reduced risk of missing applications, and better disease prevention – in other words, healthier crops and less stress. As Johnen says, “Operational management is becoming increasingly difficult and complex for farmers. Digital decision-making tools play an important role in making it easier to manage their crops.”

At a glance: benefits of precision spraying

  • Lowers spending for farmers by up to 10 percent
  • Reduces product consumption by avoiding overlap areas
  • Promotes higher yield potential thanks to optimal fungicide protection in different field zones as a result of even crop development and reduced stalk snapping
  • Cuts down on working time and stress for drivers as it allows for precise application even when work is carried out at dawn or in the dark