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Learn About In-Field Crop Nitrogen Sensors

Learn About In-Field Crop Nitrogen Sensors

Three NDSU field days in July will include sessions on new technology that has the potential to increase yields and cut costs.

Learn about in-field crop nitrogen sensors at NDSU field days in July.

"This technology has the potential to increase yields by increasing nitrogen efficiency and, at the same time, protecting the environment," says John Nowatzki, NDSU Extension Service agricultural machine systems specialist. "

Crop sensors are mounted directly on the fertilizer application equipment and then coupled with variable-rate controllers.

AgLeader OptRx reads nitrogen levels in a growing crop. It is one of several commercial in-field crop sensors on the market.

"In many cases, producers apply two-thirds of the recommended nitrogen fertilizer at or prior to planting and then apply the remainder as needed during the growing season," Nowatzki says. You can also use in-field sensors to accurately estimate crop yield and get information to make use to make management decisions, such as whether or not to apply fungicides or insecticides.

"Crop sensors simplify the remote sensing process by transferring data directly to the computer on the tractor or fertilizer applicator in real time," he says."

Commercially available in-field sensors include Ag Leader’s OptRx, Topcon’s CropSpec, Trimble’s GreenSeeker and Holland Scientific’s Crop Circle. Each company has unique sensors, mounting techniques and methods of determining plant nutrient requirements. The cost of each system ranges from $10,000 to $20,000.

Nowatzki will be presenting information on in-field sensor technology at the Hettinger REC field tour on July 10. Walt Albus, NDSU research agronomist at the Oakes Irrigation Research Site, will present similar information at the NDSU Agronomy Seed Farm field tour on July 16 and at the Williston REC field tour on July 24.

Source: NDSU Extension Service

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