Helping Small Farmers Benefit From Variable-rate Fertilizing Technology
With the world population predicted to increase to 9 billion, food production will also need to increase by up to 70%. Currently, to obtain high yields, farmers often overuse fertilizer which causes severe problems in the health of rivers with the overgrowth of algae. The project involves the development of a software for application of variable quantities of fertilizer
to a crop according to need. By reducing the volume of fertilizer used, both the farmer and the environment benefit. Using Vultus software and AgriNav guidance, ATVs with fertilizer spreaders are enabled to move precisely along each crop row.
DIATOMIC has greatly supported AgriNav with training and coaching. As a result of the training, the commercial applications have been mapped out and potential customers have been identified. Prior to entering the competition, the technical challenge was creating a ‘miniaturized’ device that would improve yields for farmers. The conversations with potential
clients have shown that there is a growing demand for precision agriculture technology in order to maintain the long-term viability of a farm.
The consortium has worked to create a system that will allow a consumer to upload the coordinates of each field or farm, have its size analysed, and then download the data from Vultus. Once the data has been downloaded, the file is transformed into an ‘Agrinav’ file-format and can be installed onto the unit.
The project has highlighted some general learnings:
• It is difficult to set up WPS on a Raspberry Pi.
• Once installed, an effective method for validating a file is through the licence engine, and this takes place each time the unit is updated with the new firmware.
• The customers we have highlighted generally operate using android mobile phones and therefore require access to a mobile-friendly solution.
• There is ample opportunity to further improve tractor sized fertilizer spreaders.
It is possible to alter a small fertiliser spreader and adjust it to have 5 settings. After 5 settings, there are diminishing returns on the spread of fertiliser. The fertiliser spreader can be pulled by a quad bike or an RTV.