Interview: The autumn scan is part of the fertilization
The AGRAR Dresdner Vorland has been working with the YARA N-Sensor® for many years and has used it almost from the beginning to carry out an autumn scan as well. We met with operations manager Mirko Pietzsch and asked what benefits the autumn scan brings to the company.
You guys have been working with the N-Sensor® since 2015. How did this come about?
Mr. Mirko Pietzsch: "Well, I personally was not involved at that time. But the colleagues in the company had already shown big interest about 10 years ago. Finally, five years ago we bought an N-Sensor® via Agricon. Above all to achieve more uniform qualities in the grain”.
So you had concrete goals that were to be achieved by using the N-Sensor®.
Mr. Pietzsch: “Exactly! We wanted to homogenize the stands and the qualities. We didn't enter this project with the idea of saving nitrogen, but we wanted to use it more efficiently. The fertilizer must be used where it is needed, but we can reduce the quantities in other places.
And that works?
Mr Pietzsch: "Yup."
You already work with two of our systems. What about the autumn scan? Did you do this for the winter crops right from the start, or did it come later?
Mr. Pietzsch: "Not yet in the first year of operation. But since the second year, the autumn scan has been part of our routine.
And in which crops?
Mr. Pietzsch: "The first thing we started was rapeseed, of course! In the following years we added winter cereals. At least in the stands where it makes sense regarding the growing during fall. It works mainly with barley for us, but we also use the fall scan for early wheat."
Agricon recommends the autumn scan for plant cultivation reasons. What advantages do you expect as a user?
Mr. Pietzsch: "First and foremost we want to have data for the first N-dosage in spring. The fertilization should fit right from the start. In other words, nitrogen only where it is needed, so that we can support stands that are not yet so well developed.
Are you satisfied with the results?
Mr. Pietzsch: "Yes, absolutely."
In your opinion, are there differences between cereals and rapeseed, or does it fit all of them?
Mr. Pietzsch: "Well, I would say that we see the differences most clearly with rapeseed. Here the N uptake during autumn is much more. The differences are not so big in cereals, but the first dosage can still be variably fertilized.
Do you carry out the autumn scan solo, or in combination with other measures?
Mr. Pietzsch: "We go solo. I can't give you exact figures at this point, but the additional effort is worth it! In addition, the scan takes place at a time when the drivers have the capacity for it. Sometimes we combine it with checking for mice.”
Do you join the guys in the field from time to time, or do you leave the action in the field to the drivers?
Mr. Pietzsch: "No, I don't need to go out with them, at least not to make sure that the data is used correctly or something like that. The drivers can do all that themselves, I send what they need directly to the machines. I then do the control and evaluation via agriPORT. I have confidence in the technology. We only made fresh mass measurements for comparison purposes in order to determine the amount of nitrogen absorbed. We came to the same result with the N-sensor and cuts at the places where we carried out the tests. So it all worked out fine. Apart from that, I also walk over the fields to look at the stands myself, but I don't have to check anything.
OK, let's take a look at agriPORT. What is it like for you to work with it? How do you deal with it in your everyday work?
Mr Pietzsch: "It has been constantly improved over the years. Sometimes the display hitches here and there, you have to reload it, but in the meantime it is quite ok. I have also discovered a few things, for example the entire export possibilities that the program offers. In the past I still wrote that out by hand. You can export it very well and process the data in Excel if you want to make special comparisons, for example.
How do you work with the scan data once it is in agriPORT?
Mr. Pietzsch: "The best way is always to start with the "Overview N-dosages", where you can display all scan data of a fruit species. This is the best way to find differences between fields. Here for example, with these plots. (ref. charts). Everything was processed in the same way, only on the "Viertel" plot, chicken manure was applied in the past and on the "Henne" plot, it was not. Here we see clear differences in growth. This becomes clearly noticeable afterwards when calculating the application map for the first dosage.
Has the scan changed the approach to N-fertilization?
Mr Pietzsch: "I think so. In the past, the amount of N varied from one plot to the next, perhaps a little, but certainly not as much as we do today. And certainly organic fertilizer applications from previous years were not included to the same extent as can be seen in the example. And within the plots, the fertilization was relatively even.
If we now look at a calculation like this in agriPORT, what’s your approach?
Mr Pietzsch: "I proceed like this: I choose the type of fruit in agriPORT. I then set the settings that apply to most fields and apply them. Then I pick out the fields in the overview that need other settings and adjust them. This is the fastest way for me. Then I check if everything is correct and let the system do the calculations. Finally, all I have to do is go to order management, "N-fertilization", "according to spreading map" and that's it. Then I send it online to the two spreaders. Very simple."
"But it would be really nice if this would work in the future with the plot names we have given them, which cannot be sorted in the calculation mask. And if the scrolling in the pop-up window works, it would be ace. These are only little things, but they would be really great to work with.
So in rapeseed, agronomy and operation fit so far. What is the situation in the grain?
Mr. Pietzsch: "Well, it's not so much different in cereals, you just have to know the agronomic calibration. You always have to get into it a bit first. But there are some hints in the academy. Then there are always the standard settings that are in the Agricon newsletter, which also help. Or I can simply call you if I don't get any further. These are all very useful tools that you can use to find your way around.
Conclusion autumn scan?
Mr. Pietzsch: "Is in fertilizing part of our business today! You get a good overview of the stands, the first dosage can be applied correctly. It is a mighty fine thing."
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