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Precision for smallholder farmers: a small-scale-tailored variable rate fertilizer application kit

Author: Van Loon, J.
Author: Speratti, A.B.
Author: Gabarra, L.
Author: Govaerts, B.
Year: 2018
Abstract: Precision agriculture technology at the hands of smallholder farmers in the developing world is often deemed far-fetched. Low-resource farmers, however, are the most susceptible to negative changes in the environment. Providing these farmers with the right tools to mitigate adversity and to gain greater control of the production process could unlock their potential and support rural communities to meet the increasing global food demand. In this study, a real-time variable rate fertilizer application system was developed and tested as an add-on kit to conventional farm machinery. In the context of low investment costs for smallholder farmers, high user-friendliness and easy installment were the main concerns for the system to be viable. The system used nitrogen (N)-sensors to assess the plant nutrient status on the spot and subsequently adjust the amount of fertilizer deposited according to the plant’s needs. Test bench trials showed that the add-on kit performed well with basic operations, but more precision is required. Variability between N-sensors and metering systems, combined with power fluctuations, created inaccuracies in the resulting application rate. Nevertheless, this work is a stepping stone towards catalyzing the elaboration of more cutting-edge precision solutions to support small-scale farmers to become successful, high producing agro-entrepreneurs.
Format: PDF
Language: English
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Article
Place of Publication: Basel, Switzerland
Issue: 4
Volume: 8
DOI: 10.3390/agriculture8040048
Keywords: Variable Rate Fertilizer Application System
Keywords: Variable Rate Fertilizer Application System
Keywords: NDVI
Journal: Agriculture

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  • Sustainable Intensification
    Sustainable intensification agriculture including topics on cropping systems, agronomy, soil, mechanization, precision agriculture, etc.

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