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Certificate course part 1
On 20.07. the 1st Precision Farming certificate course started with a total of 10 participants from 10 different farms. The training includes a total of 20 attendance days, theoretical and practical exercises on sowing, basic fertilisation, N-fertilisation and plant protection. It is rounded off with a technological project on labour costs. Each module is divided into four sections. These are the teaching of the basic agronomic correlations, the digital recording of data, the practical exercise to prepare a plan and the actual implementation on a field of a practical farm.
In the introductory lecture, the course leader, Peer Leithold, worked out the holistic approach of precision farming with the participants. Questions about the operational cost-benefit calculation of crop protection, the strategic agronomic approach and the usefulness of using yield maps were the subject of further discussion. This part was rounded off with a complete market overview of the providers and different approaches.
A company will only decide to introduce precision farming if the benefits can be proven. After all, who will invest their money if they don't get any benefit from it? Hermann Leithold explained to the course participants how precision farming methods have to be scientifically tested and evaluated in practice. Since precision farming is the correct agronomic response to soil and plant heterogeneity, these effects cannot be demonstrated in plot trials. This is because plot trials are known to exclude heterogeneity. There was also a big surprise when the course participants understood that this also does not work with a simple left-right division of a field. Hermann Leithold explained the correct procedure and the results achieved by means of an experiment on the site-specific application of fungicides.
Basics of site variability
Today Peer Leithold first gave a large portion of theoretical knowledge in soil science, water and nutrient ratios and soil organic matter. How are these parameters determined in the laboratory and how do they affect plant growth? This was followed by a discussion of all current methods for the digital determination of site conditions and the digital recording of nutrient differences. How do you set up a sampling grid? How large should one choose the grid? Is a good compromise between grid size, cost and effect on effects a site-specific application? An additional guest speaker was Prof. Dr. Kramer, who spoke about his experiences with a sensor-based investigation of pH values.
The conclusion was the practical implementation of measurements with the SoilScanner and automatic soil sampling.
Technological project and digital field diary
Dirk Poloni asked: "Did you know that labour costs have about the same dimensions as direct costs? Depending on the type of farm, these are costs between 400 and 600 €/ha. These costs are, of course, recorded in the accounts for the entire farm, but hardly anyone can realistically allocate these cost blocks to the fields and crops. For a clear view, we need transparency about who worked with what, where and for how long. Only then will we get clarity on our real production costs." After the market overview of all suppliers with their individual strengths and weaknesses, it was down to the nitty-gritty. Today's telemetry or even digital documentation systems not only show the locations and behaviour of the machines for current management and visibility in the organisation. These systems can both keep a semi-automatic field record and accurately document work completion times by driver, machine, implement and field.
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