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On-the-go plant sensor

The new CropSpec plant nutrition sensor from Topcon Precision Agriculture reads the health of a crop canopy and enables immediate variable application of fertilizer to correct nutritional deficiencies. Topcon in cooperation with Yara International, a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer, developed CropSpec as a crop canopy sensor.

CropSpec uses two sensors to measure spectral reflectance using light from pulsing laser diodes focused on the plants. The readings are correlated to chlorophyll content and may be used to determine nitrogen needs. The information can be used to develop a map that shows where nitrogen is needed, or variable-rate nitrogen may be applied at the same time the readings are taken.

“CropSpec allows farmers to perform real-time analysis of crop needs and meet those deficiencies immediately as they are traveling through the field,” reports Michael Gomes, Topcon.

CropSpec is used with Topcon’s X20 console and can link to Topcon’s Maplink program, which is used for liquid sprayers or granular spreaders. “This provides the benefits of variable-rate application in a simple one-step process, reducing the complications typically associated with variable rate and can reduce both cost and waste associated with blanket fertilizer application,” Gomes explains.

The system mounts on the tractor roof. It may be set for different sensing area sizes. CropSpec’s sensing view, which is not from directly overhead the canopy, provides a more stable measurement at earlier growth, according to Topcon.

For more information, contact Topcon at 952/245-8300.

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