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This chapter describes the work performed within the Sinograin II project on implementation of new precision nitrogen management technologies in three regions of North China. Each of the analyzed regions represents a different crop and scale of a farming system: large-scale rice farming system in Heilongjiang province, medium-scale maize farming system in Jilin province, and small-scale wheat farming system in the North China Plain. A village was selected in each region to represent the agricultural practices and current nutrient and crop management strategies of the tested region. Moreover, the initial regional optimum crop management, the current agricultural extension, as well as the precision nitrogen technologies implemented in the respective regions are described. During the course of the project, a number of novel tools and strategies for precision nitrogen management were developed for the respective regions and published in scientific papers. This chapter reviews and discusses the selected findings and indicates directions of the upcoming research.

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The resilience of global food security is a critical concern. Facing limited access to land and potential disruption of the food markets, alternative, scalable, and efficient production systems are needed as a complementary buffer for maintenance of food production integrity. The purpose of this study was to introduce an alternative hydroponic potato growing system where potatoes are grown in bare wood fiber as a growing medium. A system utilizing drip irrigation and plastic bags as containers was tested for three different types of wood fiber, two cultivars and two fertigation strategies. Implementation of the system resulted in ~300% higher tuber production when compared to the local conventional farming. Mineral composition of the tubers obtained from hydroponic system was similar to the composition of tubers grown in the field and revealed potential for biofortification. In addition, a fertigation strategy where the two application points were separated across the root zone resulted in tubers with dry matter content comparable to the potatoes grown in soil. The recyclability, reusability, and simplicity of this solution may encourage its application for improving security of food production in selected areas of the world as well as its utilization in urban agriculture.

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Lodging is a major problem in maize (Zea mays L.) production worldwide. An analytical lodging model has previously been established. However, some of the model inputs are time consuming to obtain and require destructive plant sampling. Efficient prediction of lodging risk early in the season would be beneficial for management decision-making to reduce lodging risks and ensure high yield potential. Remote sensing technology provides an alternative method for fast and nondestructive measurements with the potential for efficient prediction of lodging risks. The objective of this study was to explore the potential of using an active canopy sensor for the early prediction of maize stem lodging risk using simple regression and multiple linear regression (MLR) models. The results indicated that the MLR models using active canopy sensor data together with weather and management factors performed better than simple regression models using only sensor data for predicting maize stem lodging indicators. Similar results were achieved either using regression models to predict the maize stem lodging risk indicators directly or using the regression models to predict lodging related plant parameters as inputs to a process-based lodging model to predict lodging risk indicators indirectly, although the latter approach using MLR models performed slightly better. A medium planting density (7.0 plants m-2) and 240 kg ha-1 N rate would be suitable in the study region, and the recommendations may be adjusted according to different weather conditions. It is concluded that maize stem lodging risks can be predicted using active canopy sensor data together with weather and management information at V8 stage, which can be used to guide in-season management decisions. Additional research is needed to evaluate the potential of using unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite remote sensing technologies in conjunction with machine learning methods to improve the prediction of lodging risks for large scale applications.

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Active canopy sensors (ACSs) are great tools for diagnosing crop nitrogen (N) status and grain yield prediction to support precision N management strategies. Different commercial ACSs are available and their performances in crop N status diagnosis and recommendation may vary. The objective of this study was to determine the potential to minimize the differences of two commonly used ACSs (GreenSeeker and Crop Circle ACS-430) in maize (Zea mays L.) N status diagnosis and recommendation with multi-source data fusion and machine learning. The regression model was based on simple regression or machine learning regression including ancillary information of soil properties, weather conditions, and crop management information. Results of simple regression models indicated that Crop Circle ACS-430 with red-edge based vegetation indices performed better than GreenSeeker in estimating N nutrition index (NNI) (R2 = 0.63 vs. 0.50–0.51) and predicting grain yield (R2 = 0.56–0.57 vs. 0.49). The random forest regression (RFR) models using vegetation indices and ancillary data greatly improved the prediction of NNI (R2 = 0.81–0.82) and grain yield (R2 = 0.87–0.89), regardless of the sensor type or the vegetation index used. Using RFR models, moderate degree of accuracy in N status diagnosis was achieved based on either GreenSeeker or Crop Circle ACS-430. In comparison, using simple regression models based on spectral data only, the accuracy was significantly lower. When these two ACSs were used independently, they performed similarly in N fertilizer recommendation (R2 = 0.57–0.60). Hybrid RFR models were established using vegetation indices from both ACSs and ancillary data, which could be used to diagnose maize N status (moderate accuracy) and make side-dress N recommendations (R2 = 0.62–0.67) using any of the two ACSs. It is concluded that the use of multi-source data fusion with machine learning model could improve the accuracy of ACS-based N status diagnosis and recommendation and minimize the performance differences of different active sensors. The results of this research indicated the potential to develop machine learning models using multi-sensor and multi-source data fusion for more universal applications.

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Wood modification using polyesterification of sorbitol and citric acid is a novel environmentally friendly strategy for wood protection improving its dimensional stability and acts against fungal deterioration. Inelastic Raman scattering is sensitive to the molecules of high polarizability and both lignocellulose and aliphatic esters formed during the treatment are polar. Therefore, in the present study, the quality control of the treatment using a handheld Raman spectrometer equipped with 830 nm laser is suggested as a rapid and reliable approach. Raman spectra from six wood modification levels (resulting in different weight percent gain, WPG) of three different wood species (Silver birch, Scots pine and Norway spruce) as well as three sample preparation strategies (intact, sanded and milled wood samples) were collected, and further analyzed using a chemometric method. Best performing models based on Powered Partial Least Squares Regression predicted the WPG level at R2 = 0.85, 0.95 and 0.98 for birch, pine and spruce, respectively. In addition, a clear separation between hard and soft wood species was also captured. Especially for softwood species, the sample preparation method affected the model accuracy, revealing the best performance in milled material. It is concluded that by using handheld Raman spectrometer it is possible to perform accurate quality control of wood modified by polyesterification of citric acid and sorbitol.

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There is an increased interest in the hydroponic production of strawberries in protected cultivation systems, and it is, therefore, urgent to develop new, more sustainable growing media alternatives. This study investigated the physical properties of wood fiber produced from Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) and peat:wood fiber substrate blends as well as the performance of the wood fiber in comparison to the industry standards, i.e., peat and coconut coir in the cultivation of hydroponic strawberry. Tray plants of the June-bearing strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) cultivar ‘Malling Centenary’ were transplanted into five different growing media: a peat (80%) and perlite (20%) mixture, stand-alone (100%) coconut coir and three stand-alone (100%) Norway spruce wood fiber substrates (including coarse textured fibers with compact and loose packing density and compacted fine-textured fibers). Ripe strawberries were harvested and registered throughout the production season. The overall marketable yield was comparable across all the tested growing media; however, after 4 weeks of harvest, both coarse wood fiber and fine wood fiber showed better fruiting performance than the peat-perlite mixture. A trend for earlier berry maturation was observed for all wood fiber-based substrates. Plant parameters recorded after the end of production showed that plant height, number of leaves, and biomass production were higher in coarse wood fiber than in the peat-perlite mixture. Moreover, plants grown in wood fiber-based substrates had less unripe berries and flowers not harvested in comparison to both the peat and coir treatments.

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Cultivation of strawberries in greenhouses and polytunnels is increasing, and new sustainable growing media are needed to replace peat and coconut coir. This study investigated the effect of wood fiber and compost as growing media on hydroponically cultivated strawberries. Two experiments were conducted, where the everbearing cultivar ‘Murano’ was grown in mixtures of wood fiber and compost (Experiment 1) and the seasonal flowering cultivar ‘Malling Centenary’ was grown in mixtures of wood fiber and peat (Experiment 2). Additionally, in Experiment 2, the effect of adding start fertilizer was assessed. The yield potential of ‘Murano’ plants was maintained in all substrates compared to the coconut coir control. However, a mixture of 75% wood fiber and 25% compost produced the highest yield, suggesting that mixtures of nutritious materials with wood fiber may improve plant performance. The chemical composition of the berries was not affected by the substrate composition; however, berries from plants grown in the best performing blend had a lower firmness than those grown in coconut coir. ‘Malling Centenary’ plants produced higher yields in substrates enriched with start fertilizer. Generally, the productivity of ‘Malling Centenary’ plants was maintained in blends containing up to 75% of wood fiber mixture even without start fertilizer.

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Rapid methods allowing for non-destructive crop monitoring are imperative for accurate in-season nitrogen (N) status assessment and precision N management. The objectives of this paper were to (1) compare the performance of a leaf fluorescence sensor Dualex 4 and an active canopy reflectance sensor Crop Circle ACS-430 for estimating maize (Zea mays L.) N status indicators across growth stages; (2) evaluate the potential of N status prediction across growth stages using the reflectance parameters acquired from the canopy sensor at an early growth stage; and, (3) investigate the prospect of combining the active canopy sensor and leaf fluorescence sensor data to estimate N nutrition index (NNI) indirectly using a general model across growth stages. The results indicated that data from both sensors were closely related to NNI across stages. However, using the direct NNI estimation method, among the tested indices, only the N balance index (NBI) could diagnose N status satisfactorily, based on the Kappa statistics. The effect of growth stages on proximal sensing was reduced by incorporating the information of days after sowing. It was found that the leaf fluorescence sensor performed relatively better in estimating plant N concentration whereas the canopy reflectance sensor performed better in aboveground biomass estimation. Their combination significantly improved the reliability of N diagnosis, including NNI prediction. In addition, the study confirmed that N status can be assessed by predicting aboveground biomass at the later stages using the canopy reflectance measurements at an early stage. Furthermore, the integrated NBI was verified to be a more robust and sensitive N status indicator than the chlorophyll concentration index. It is concluded that combining active canopy sensor data, of an early growth stage (e.g. V8), with leaf fluorescence sensor data, modified using days after sowing, can improve the accuracy of corn N status diagnosis across growth stages.

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Active crop sensor-based precision nitrogen (N) management can significantly improve N use efficiency but generally does not increase crop yield. The objective of this research was to develop and evaluate an active canopy sensor-based precision rice management system in terms of grain yield and quality, N use efficiency, and lodging resistance as compared with farmer practice, regional optimum rice management system recommended by the extension service, and a chlorophyll meter-based precision rice management system. Two field experiments were conducted from 2011 to 2013 at Jiansanjiang Experiment Station of China Agricultural University in Heilongjiang, China, involving four rice management systems and two varieties (Kongyu 131 and Longjing 21). The results indicated that the canopy sensor-based precision rice management system significantly increased rice grain yield (by 9.4–13.5%) over the farmer practice while improving N use efficiency, grain quality, and lodging resistance. Compared with the already optimized regional optimum rice management system, in the cool weather year of 2011, the developed system decreased the N rate applied in Kongyu 131 by 12% and improved N use efficiency without inducing yield loss. In the warm weather year of 2013, the canopy sensor-based management system recommended an 8% higher N rate to be applied in Longjing 21 than the regional optimum rice management, which improved rice panicle number per unit area and eventually led to increased grain yield by over 10% and improved N use efficiency. More studies are needed to further test the developed active canopy sensor-based precision rice management system under more diverse on-farm conditions and further improve it using unmanned aerial vehicle or satellite remote sensing technologies for large-scale applications.

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The remote sensing of the biophysical and biochemical parameters of crops facilitates the preparation of application maps for variable-rate nitrogen fertilization. According to comparative studies of machine learning algorithms, Gaussian process regression (GPR) can outperform more popular methods in the prediction of crop status from hyperspectral data. The present study evaluates GPR model accuracy in the context of spring wheat dry matter, nitrogen content, and nitrogen uptake estimation. Models with the squared exponential covariance function were trained on images from two hyperspectral cameras (a frenchFabry–Pérot interferometer camera and a push-broom scanner). The most accurate predictions were obtained for nitrogen uptake (R2=0.75–0.85, RPDP=2.0–2.6). Modifications of the basic workflow were then evaluated: the removal of soil pixels from the images prior to the training, data fusion with apparent soil electrical conductivity measurements, and replacing the Euclidean distance in the GPR covariance function with the spectral angle distance. Of these, the data fusion improved the performance while predicting nitrogen uptake and nitrogen content. The estimation accuracy of the latter parameter varied considerably across the two hyperspectral cameras. Satisfactory nitrogen content predictions (R2>0.8, RPDP>2.4) were obtained only in the data-fusion scenario, and only with a high spectral resolution push-broom device capable of capturing longer wavelengths, up to 1000 nm, while the full-frame camera spectral limit was 790 nm. The prediction performance and uncertainty metrics indicated the suitability of the models for precision agriculture applications. Moreover, the spatial patterns that emerged in the generated crop parameter maps accurately reflected the fertilization levels applied across the experimental area as well as the background variation of the abiotic growth conditions, further corroborating this conclusion.

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Accurate and non-destructive diagnosis of crop nitrogen (N) surplus and deficit status based on N nutrition index (NNI) is crucially important for the success of precision N management to improve N use efficiency (NUE) and reduce negative environmental impacts. However, due to the variability of the reflectance data obtained from different active crop sensors and complexity of the environmental and management conditions for regional applications, accurate determination of crop N status and topdressing N rate only using active canopy sensor data is very challenging. The objectives of this study were to (1) develop an in-season N status diagnosis and recommendation model based on NNI prediction using multi-source data fusion with machine learning, and (2) evaluate the accuracy of N diagnosis and recommendation in terms of rice yield and NUE under diverse on-farm conditions. Thirty plot experiments and thirteen on-farm experiments were conducted in Qixing Farm, Jiansanjiang, Northeast China from 2008 to 2018, and the dataset was used for the model calibration, validation, and evaluation. Two indirect and one direct NNI prediction methods using simple regression, stepwise multiple linear regression (SMLR) and random forest regression (RFR) were compared for N diagnosis and then integrated into N recommendation model. The results indicated that combining environmental and agronomic variables with crop sensor data improved the SMLR and RFR model performance by 1–16% and 9–40% over the corresponding models only using crop sensor data, respectively. The direct NNI prediction approach achieved slightly better N status diagnostic accuracy (areal agreement = 84% and Kappa statistics = 0.71) than indirect NNI prediction strategies based on plant N uptake and ΔN estimation (areal agreement = 81% and Kappa statistics = 0.67) or aboveground biomass and plant N uptake estimation (areal agreement = 77% and Kappa statistics = 0.58) across plot experiments and diverse on-farm conditions, based on multi-source data fusion with random forest regression models. About 82% of recommended N rates by the developed integrated in-season rice N diagnosis and recommendation model were within ±10 kg ha−1 of the measured economic optimum N rate across different varieties, environmental conditions and transplanting densities. Precision rice management based on in-season N diagnosis and recommendation decreased N rates and increased N partial factor productivity (PFPN) by 23% over regional optimum rice management, and significantly increased yield (7–11%) and PFPN (33–77%) over farmer's management. More studies are needed to develop in-season N diagnosis and recommendation strategies for applications across different regions and combine them with integrated precision rice management strategies for food security and sustainable development.

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Som en del av prosjektet Presisjonshektaren ved NIBIO Senter for Presisjonsjordbruk har det gjennom 2021 og 2022 blitt utført et demonstrasjonsforsøk hvor det ble prøvd ulike verktøy til jordkartlegging på et tilsynelatende homogent skifte gjennom en sesong. Denne rapporten oppsummerer dette arbeidet ved å beskrive resultatet fra kartleggingen og ser på sammenhenger mellom kartleggingsresultater og avlingsnivå. Resultatene viser at også innenfor et skifte som ser homogent ut, finnes det en god del variasjon på grunn av topografi (Figur 2) og forskjeller i jordegenskaper (Figur 8 - Figur 11) som kan føre til en betydelig variasjon i avling og proteininnhold (Figur 20 og Figur 21). Dette viser at dersom man skal kartlegge jorda som basis for presisjonstildeling av innsatsfaktorer, kan det være verdt å vurdere å ta jordprøver noe tettere enn den generelle anbefalingen. I dette forsøket viste høsteprøvene et spenn i kornavling tilsvarende 560-800 kg per daa minimum. Proteininnholdet varierte fra 11,2 til 13 %. Siden dette forsøket ble gjennomført som et ettårig forsøk uten gjentak, er det ikke mulig å konkludere med noen årsakssammenheng mellom de forskjellige variablene som er målt. Det er likevel observert interessante samvariasjoner mellom forskjellige typer kartlegging. Det kan være interessant å gjøre mer detaljerte forsøk for å undersøke disse nærmere på et senere tidspunkt. Ved konvensjonell, uniform dyrkingspraksis, vil hele skiftet behandles likt ved for eksempel gjødsling og jordarbeiding. Dette fører til at ikke alle områder blir behandlet etter behov og potensiale. Ved homogen gjødsling vil noen områder få mer gjødsel enn nødvendig. Dette reduserer utnyttelsen av innsatsfaktorene og kan føre til økt miljøbelastning og kostnader. Samtidig vil andre områder få for lite gjødsel, noe som kan begrense avlingspotensialet og produksjonseffektiviteten. Omfanget av variasjonen i dette forsøket illustrerer derfor behovet for stedspesifikk behandling. Med høye priser på innsatsfaktorer er det et stort innsparingspotensial i å behandle de ulike områdene ut fra behov og potensiale. Det finnes mange muligheter for kartlegging av åkeren, og gårdbrukeren møter mange ulike tilbud. Det er svært viktig at gårdbrukeren før hen benytter seg av et slikt tilbud ber om dokumentasjon på kvalitet og kalibrering for norske forhold. Ved omfattende kartlegging genereres også store mengder data som må ivaretas på en god måte for å kunne være til nytte for bonden. Som en del av arbeidet med Presisjonshektaren er det også utarbeidet en oversikt over forskjellige såkalte «Farm Management Information Systems» (FMIS) – informasjonsstyringssystemer for gårdsbruk (NIBIO Rapport – FMIS for norske gårdbrukere).) Et ettårig forsøk slik som det som er gjennomført her gir ikke muligheter for å konkludere om hvilken kartleggingsmetode som egner seg best. Resultatene og erfaringen fra det første året med forsøk på ‘Presisjonshektaren’ viser behovet for utvidet forskning på praktisk anvendelse av metodene for kartlegging for å prøve metodene gjennom flere sesonger og på ulike plasser for å også dekke variasjon i jordtype og klimatiske forhold. NIBIO driver med en rekke spennende forsøk innom presisionslandbruk i grensesnittet mellom agronomi, jordfag, plantedyrking og teknologi og dette blir også tema i nye forsøk i tida framover. Følg med på NIBIO’s aktivitet innenfor fagområdet: www.nibio.no https://precisionag.no/nb/hjem/

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Horticultural production systems are under pressure to find environmentally friendly growing media. Peat is currently the most popular substrate for fresh potted herbs production; however, this raw material is not sustainable due to the large amount of greenhouse gases released during its harvesting. Therefore, the goal of the study was to test the performance of various commercial wood fiber products and compare them with peat and coir in an ebb-and-flow production system with basil (Ocimum basilicum L. 'Marian'). Basil plants were grown in three different pot sizes (6, 9 and 12 cm in diameter) and under various fertigation regimes (EC 1, 2 and 3). Height and biomass of the plants were recorded when the best performing plants reached the commercial stage. The tallest plants and greatest biomass were produced in peat and coir, however, the results confirm that wood fiber can be a promising substrate alternative. Further research is needed to study, among others topics, how to modify some properties of wood fibers to fulfil their potential as a replacement for non-sustainable growing media in production of herbs in pots.

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Accurate assessment of crop nitrogen (N) status and understanding the N demand are considered essential in precision N management. Chlorophyll fluorescence is unsusceptible to confounding signals from underlying bare soil and is closely related to plant photosynthetic activity. Therefore, fluorescence sensing is considered a promising technology for monitoring crop N status, even at an early growth stage. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the potential of using Multiplex® 3, a proximal canopy fluorescence sensor, to detect N status variability and to quantitatively estimate N status indicators at four key growth stages of maize. The sensor measurements were performed at different growth stages, and three different regression methods were compared to estimate plant N concentration (PNC), plant N uptake (PNU), and N nutrition index (NNI). The results indicated that the induced differences in maize plant N status were detectable as early as the V6 growth stage. The first method based on simple regression (SR) and the Multiplex sensor indices normalized by growing degree days (GDD) or N sufficiency index (NSI) achieved acceptable estimation accuracy (R2 = 0.73–0.87), showing a good potential of canopy fluorescence sensing for N status estimation. The second method using multiple linear regression (MLR), fluorescence indices and GDDs had the lowest modeling accuracy (R2 = 0.46–0.79). The third tested method used a non-linear regression approach in the form of random forest regression (RFR) based on multiple sensor indices and GDDs. This approach achieved the best estimation accuracy (R2 = 0.84–0.93) and the most accurate diagnostic result.

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One challenge in precision nitrogen (N) management is the uncertainty in future weather conditions at the time of decision-making. Crop growth models require a full season of weather data to run yield simulation, and the unknown weather data may be forecasted or substituted by historical data. The objectives of this study were to (1) develop a model-based in-season N recommendation strategy for maize (Zea mays L.) using weather data fusion; and (2) evaluate this strategy in comparison with farmers’ N rate and regional optimal N rate in Northeast China. The CERES-Maize model was calibrated using data collected from field experiments conducted in 2015 and 2016, and validated using data from 2017. At two N decision dates - planting stage and V8 stage, the calibrated CERES-Maize model was used to predict grain yield and plant N uptake by fusing current and historical weather data. Using this approach, the model simulated grain yield and plant N uptake well (R2 = 0.85–0.89). Then, in-season economic optimal N rate (EONR) was determined according to responses of simulated marginal return (based on predicted grain yield) to N rate at planting and V8 stages. About 83% of predicted EONR fell within 20% of measured values. Applying the model-based in-season EONR had the potential to increase marginal return by 120–183 $ ha−1 and 0–83 $ ha−1 and N use efficiency by 8–71% and 1–38% without affecting grain yield over farmers’ N rate and regional optimal N rate, respectively. It is concluded that the CERES-Maize model is a valuable tool for simulating yield responses to N under different planting densities, soil types and weather conditions. The model-based in-season N recommendation strategy with weather data fusion can improve maize N use efficiency compared with current farmer practice and regional optimal management practice.

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The use of peat as a growing media in horticulture is supposed to be reduced due to negative effects of its production on the environment. Interest in development of alternative growing media is therefore increasing and is enhanced by both political pressure and industry demands. Therefore, the influence of 33 growing media on the performance and productivity of two strawberry cultivars were examined in a polytunnel under Nordic conditions (60.7 N). Alternative substrates including fibers of spruce, birch and flax and coffee grounds were tested standalone or in mixes. Peat and coir were included as controls. Additionally, impregnation of the wood fibers with organic and inorganic substances was examined. All investigated growing media received identical fertigation strategies (EC 1.5). The highest average biomass production was observed for plants grown in bare peat; however, the best yield performance was noted for peat mixed with perlite and for coarse spruce fiber. Strawberries grown in these two best performing substrates showed comparable overall productivity, with 272 and 268 g of berries per plant, respectively. Both peat/perlite mix and the coarse spruce fiber had also a similar weight of berries larger than 25 mm, with 210 and 198 g plant-1, respectively. Moreover, improvement of the substrate structure by adding perlite or wood chips may have had a pronounced effect on fruiting performance. When compared to peat with added perlite (which gave the highest berry yield in the experiment; 272 g plant-1), strawberries grown in pure peat produced only 187 g plant-1. Furthermore, impregnation of spruce fiber with humic acid enhanced fruiting performance by increasing the total yield and number of large berries (≥25 mm). Future prospects for this study include establishment of an optimal structure of spruce fiber substrate suitable for strawberry production and development of the fertigation strategy optimized for the new growing media.

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Potato contributes highly to the global food security. It is predicted that the production of this crop will be negatively affected by future climatic changes. Application of hydroponics for table potato production can mitigate crop loss in highly vulnerable regions. A preliminary small-scale case-study was performed to test theoretical perspectives of hydroponic production of table potatoes in wood fiber by comparing different fiber types and fertigation strategies. Potatoes were also grown in the field to obtain a reference control. Hydroponic production of potato in a stand-alone wood fiber resulted in ca. 200% higher yield, when compared to standard soil cultivation. However, the quality of the tubers was slightly reduced (lower dry matter content). Productivity of table potatoes was affected by the growing medium and fertigation strategy. Production of potatoes in wood fiber is possible and, in the future, might complement the conventional production systems, or even become an important alternative in locations where in-field cultivation is not possible. Nevertheless, the effect of wood fiber properties and the applied fertigation strategy on yield potential and tuber quality should be further studied. Optimization of these factors will be a topic of a following full-scale research.

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Reliable and efficient in-season nitrogen (N) status diagnosis and recommendation methods are crucially important for the success of crop precision N management (PNM). The accuracy of these methods has been found to be influenced by soil properties, weather conditions, and crop management practices. It is important to effectively incorporate these variables to improve in-season N management. Machine learning (ML) methods are promising due to their capability of processing different types of data and modeling both linear and non-linear relationships. The objectives of this study were to (1) determine the potential improvement of in-season prediction of corn N nutrition index (NNI) and grain yield by combining soil, weather and management data with active sensor data using random forest regression (RFR) as compared with Lasso linear regression (LR) using similar data and simple regression (SR) models only using crop sensor data; and (2) to develop a new in-season side-dress N fertilizer recommendation strategy at eighth to ninth leaf stage (V8-V9) of corn developement using the RFR model. Twelve site-year experiments examining corn N rates and planting densities were conducted in Northeast China. The GreenSeeker sensor data and corn NNI were collected at V8-V9 stage, and grain yield was determined at the harvest stage (R6). The soil information was obtained at planting and the weather data was measured throughout the growing season. The results indicated that corn NNI and grain yield were better predicted by combining soil, weather and management information with GreenSeeker sensor data using RFR model (R2 = 0.86 and 0.79) and LR model (R2 = 0.85 and 0.76) as compared with only using GreenSeeker sensor data (R2 = 0.66 and 0.62–63) based on the test dataset. An innovative in-season side-dress N recommendation strategy was developed using the RFR grain yield prediction model to simulate corn grain yield responses to a series of side-dress N rates at V8-V9 stage. Based on these response curves, site-, and year-specific optimum side-dress N rates can be determined. The scenario analysis results indicated that this RFR model-based in-season N recommendation strategy could recommend side-dress N rates similar to those based on measured agronomic optimum N rate (AONR) or economic optimum N rate (EONR), with root mean square error (RMSE) of 17 kg ha−1 and relative error (RE) of 14–15 %. It is concluded that combining soil, weather and management information with crop sensor data using RFR can significantly improve both in-season corn NNI and grain yield prediction and N management, compared with the approach based only on crop sensor data. More studies are needed to further improve and evaluate this approach under diverse on-farm conditions.

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Hydroponic production of strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) in protected cultivation systems using substrates (growing media) is gaining popularity worldwide. Therefore, it is necessary to develop more sustainable growing media alternatives. This study focused on growth performance of strawberry plants grown in wood fibre from Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.), in comparison to two industry standards (peat and coco fibres). Plug (tray) plants of the June-bearing strawberry cultivar 'Malling Centenary' and bare root (WBH) plants of cultivar 'Sonata' were transplanted into three different growing media: peat (80%) and perlite (20%) mixture, coconut coir (100%) and Norway spruce wood fibre (100%). The plants received four fertigation strategies (various potassium and nitrogen concentrations) from flowering onwards. Throughout the production season ripe berries were harvested and frozen for later analyses of chemical composition. Plant architecture was also recorded after termination of the experiment. The results revealed that the most significant differences among the majority of the fruit and plant parameters were due to cultivar traits. Strawberries grown in wood fibre produced slightly smaller berries with elevated °Brix and dry matter compared to berries from plants grown in peat and coir. This was most likely caused by the common fertigation strategy applied to all substrates. Nevertheless, among the tested fertigation strategies, application of solutions with elevated potassium resulted in the highest sugar accumulation in berries grown in wood fibre substrate. In general, the experiment revealed relatively negligible differences between the growing media, and we therefore conclude that wood fibre from Norway spruce may be a viable alternative as a growing media in hydroponic strawberry production when the fertigation strategy is precisely adjusted.

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RapidSCAN is a portable active canopy sensor with red, red-edge, and near infrared spectral bands. The objective of this study is to develop and evaluate a RapidSCAN sensor-based precision nitrogen (N) management (PNM) strategy for high-yielding rice in Northeast China. Six rice N rate experiments were conducted from 2014 to 2016 at Jiansanjiang Experiment Station of China Agricultural University in Northeast China. The results indicated that the sensor performed well for estimating rice yield potential (YP0) and yield response to additional N application (RIHarvest) at the stem elongation stage using normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) (R2 = 0.60–0.77 and relative error (REr) = 6.2–8.0%) and at the heading stage using normalized difference red edge (NDRE) (R2 = 0.70–0.82 and REr = 7.3–8.7%). A new RapidSCAN sensor-based PNM strategy was developed that would make N recommendations at both stem elongation and heading growth stages, in contrast to previously developed strategy making N recommendation only at the stem elongation stage. This new PNM strategy could save 24% N fertilizers, and increase N use efficiencies by 29–35% as compared to Farmer N Management, without significantly affecting the rice grain yield and economic returns. Compared with regional optimum N management, the new PNM strategy increased 4% grain yield, 3–10% N use efficiencies and 148 $ ha−1 economic returns across years and varieties. It is concluded that the new RapidSCAN sensor-based PNM strategy with two in-season N recommendations using NDVI and NDRE is suitable for guiding in-season N management in high-yield rice management systems. Future studies are needed to evaluate this RapidSCAN sensor-based PNM strategy under diverse on-farm conditions, as well as to integrate it into high-yield rice management systems for food security and sustainable development.

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The dynamic interactions between soil, weather and crop management have considerable influences on crop yield within a region, and should be considered in optimizing nitrogen (N) management. The objectives of this study were to determine the influence of soil type, weather conditions and planting density on economic optimal N rate (EONR), and to evaluate the potential benefits of site-specific N management strategies for maize production. The experiments were conducted in two soil types (black and aeolian sandy soils) from 2015 to 2017, involving different N rates (0 to 300 kg ha−1) with three planting densities (55,000, 70,000, and 85,000 plant ha−1) in Northeast China. The results showed that the average EONR was higher in black soil (265 kg ha−1) than in aeolian sandy soil (186 kg ha−1). Conversely, EONR showed higher variability in aeolian sandy soil (coefficient of variation (CV) = 30%) than in black soil (CV = 10%) across different weather conditions and planting densities. Compared with farmer N rate (FNR), applying soil-specific EONR (SS-EONR), soil- and year-specific EONR (SYS-EONR) and soil-, year-, and planting density-specific EONR (SYDS-EONR) would significantly reduce N rate by 25%, 30% and 38%, increase net return (NR) by 155 $ ha−1, 176 $ ha−1, and 163 $ ha−1, and improve N use efficiency (NUE) by 37–42%, 52%, and 67–71% across site-years, respectively. Compared with regional optimal N rate (RONR), applying SS-EONR, SYS-EONR and SYDS-EONR would significantly reduce N application rate by 6%, 12%, and 22%, while increasing NUE by 7–8%, 16–19% and 28–34% without significantly affecting yield or NR, respectively. It is concluded that soil-specific N management has the potential to improve maize NUE compared with both farmer practice and regional optimal N management in Northeast China, especially when each year’s weather condition and planting density information is also considered. More studies are needed to develop practical in-season soil (site)-specific N management strategies using crop sensing and modeling technologies to better account for soil, weather and planting density variation under diverse on-farm conditions.

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Optimizing nitrogen (N) management in rice is crucial for China’s food security and sustainable agricultural development. Nondestructive crop growth monitoring based on remote sensing technologies can accurately assess crop N status, which may be used to guide the in-season site-specific N recommendations. The fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based remote sensing is a low-cost, easy-to-operate technology for collecting spectral reflectance imagery, an important data source for precision N management. The relationships between many vegetation indices (VIs) derived from spectral reflectance data and crop parameters are known to be nonlinear. As a result, nonlinear machine learning methods have the potential to improve the estimation accuracy. The objective of this study was to evaluate five different approaches for estimating rice (Oryza sativa L.) aboveground biomass (AGB), plant N uptake (PNU), and N nutrition index (NNI) at stem elongation (SE) and heading (HD) stages in Northeast China: (1) single VI (SVI); (2) stepwise multiple linear regression (SMLR); (3) random forest (RF); (4) support vector machine (SVM); and (5) artificial neural networks (ANN) regression. The results indicated that machine learning methods improved the NNI estimation compared to VI-SLR and SMLR methods. The RF algorithm performed the best for estimating NNI (R2 = 0.94 (SE) and 0.96 (HD) for calibration and 0.61 (SE) and 0.79 (HD) for validation). The root mean square errors (RMSEs) were 0.09, and the relative errors were <10% in all the models. It is concluded that the RF machine learning regression can significantly improve the estimation of rice N status using UAV remote sensing. The application machine learning methods offers a new opportunity to better use remote sensing data for monitoring crop growth conditions and guiding precision crop management. More studies are needed to further improve these machine learning-based models by combining both remote sensing data and other related soil, weather, and management information for applications in precision N and crop management.

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Improving nitrogen (N) management of small-scale farming systems in developing countries is crucially important for food security and sustainable development of world agriculture, but it is also very challenging. The N Nutrition Index (NNI) is a reliable indicator for crop N status, and there is an urgent need to develop an effective method to non-destructively estimate crop NNI in different smallholder farmer fields to guide in-season N management. The eBee fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based remote sensing system, a ready-to-deploy aircraft with a Parrot Sequoia+ multispectral camera onboard, has been used for applications in precision agriculture. The objectives of this study were to (i) determine the potential of using fixed-wing UAV-based multispectral remote sensing for non-destructive estimation of winter wheat NNI in different smallholder farmer fields across the study village in the North China Plain (NCP) and (ii) develop a practical strategy for village-scale winter wheat N status diagnosis in small scale farming systems. Four plot experiments were conducted within farmer fields in 2016 and 2017 in a village of Laoling County, Shandong Province in the NCP for evaluation of a published critical N dilution curve and for serving as reference plots. UAV remote sensing images were collected from all the fields across the village in 2017 and 2018. About 150 plant samples were collected from farmer fields and plot experiments each year for ground truthing. Two indirect and two direct approaches were evaluated for estimating NNI using vegetation indices (VIs). To facilitate practical applications, the performance of three commonly used normalized difference VIs were compared with the top performing VIs selected from 59 tested indices. The most practical and stable method was using VIs to calculate N sufficiency index (NSI) and then to estimate NNI non-destructively (R2 = 0.53–0.56). Using NSI thresholds to diagnose N status directly was quite stable, with a 57–59% diagnostic accuracy rate. This strategy is practical and least affected by the choice of VIs across fields, varieties, and years. This study demonstrates that fixed-wing UAV–based remote sensing is a promising technology for in-season diagnosis of winter wheat N status in smallholder farmer fields at village scale. The considerable variability in local soil conditions and crop management practices influenced the overall accuracy of N diagnosis, so more studies are needed to further validate and optimize the reported strategy and consecutively develop practical UAV remote sensing–based in-season N recommendation methods.

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Today’s modern precision agriculture applications have a huge demand for data with high spatial and temporal resolution. This leads to the need of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as sensor platforms providing both, easy use and a high area coverage. This study shows the successful development of a prototype hybrid UAV for practical applications in precision agriculture. The UAV consists of an off-the-shelf fixed-wing fuselage, which has been enhanced with multi-rotor functionality. It was programmed to perform pre-defined waypoint missions completely autonomously, including vertical take-off, horizontal flight, and vertical landing. The UAV was tested for its return-to-home (RTH) accuracy, power consumption and general flight performance at different wind speeds. The RTH accuracy was 43.7 cm in average, with a root-mean-square error of 39.9 cm. The power consumption raised with an increase in wind speed. An extrapolation of the analysed power consumption to conditions without wind resulted in an estimated 40 km travel range, when we assumed a 25 % safety margin of remaining battery capacity. This translates to a maximal area coverage of 300 ha for a scenario with 18 m/s airspeed, 50 minutes flight time, 120 m AGL altitude, and a desired 70 % of image side-lap and 85 % forward-lap. The ground sample distance with an in-built RGB camera was 3.5 cm, which we consider sufficient for farm-scale mapping missions for most precision agriculture applications.

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Currently, sugar snap peas are harvested manually. In high-cost countries like Norway, such a labour-intensive practise implies particularly large costs for the farmer. Hence, automated alternatives are highly sought after. This project explored a concept for robotic autonomous identification and tracking of sugar snap pea pods. The approach was based on a combination of visible–near infrared reflection measurements and image analysis, along with visual servoing. A proof-of-concept harvesting platform was implemented by mounting a robotic arm with hand-mounted sensors on a mobile unit. The platform was tested under plastic greenhouse conditions on potted plants of the sugar snap pea variety Cascadia using LED-lights and a partial shade. The results showed that it was feasible to differentiate the pods from the surrounding foliage using the light reflection at the spectral range around 970 nm combined with elementary image segmentation and shape modelling methods. The proof-of-concept harvesting platform was tested on 48 representative agricultural environments comprising dense canopy, varying pod sizes, partial occlusions and different working distances. A set of 104 images were analysed during the teleoperation experiment. The true positive detection rate was 93 and 87% for images acquired at long distances and at close distances, respectively. The robot arm achieved a success rate of 54% for autonomous visual servoing to a pre-grasp pose around targeted pods on 22 untouched scenarios. This study shows the potential of developing a prototype robot for semi-automated sugar snap pea harvesting.

Sammendrag

It has been long known that thermal imaging may be used to detect stress (e.g. water and nutrient deficiency) in growing crops. Developments in microbolometer thermal cameras, such as the introduction of imaging arrays that may operate without costly active temperature stabilization, have vitalized the interest in thermal imaging for crop measurements. In this study, we have focused on the challenges occurring when temperature stabilization is omitted, including the effects of focal-plane-array (FPA) temperature, camera settings and the environment in which the measurements are performed. Further, we have designed and tested models for providing thermal response from an analog LWIR video signal (typical output from low-cost microbolometer thermal cameras). Finally, we have illustrated and discussed challenges which typically occur under practical use of thermal imaging of crops, by means of three cereal showcases, including proximal and remotely based (UAV) data acquisition. The results showed that changing FPA temperature greatly affected the measurements, and that wind and irradiance also appeared to affect the temperature dynamics considerably. Further, we found that adequate settings of camera gain and offset were crucial for obtaining a reliable result. The model which was considered best in terms of transforming video signals into thermal response data included information on camera FPA temperature, and was based on a priori calibrations using a black-body radiation source under controlled conditions. Very good calibration (r2>0.99, RMSE=0.32°C, n=96) was obtained for a target temperature range of 15-35°C, covering typical daytime crop temperatures in the growing season. However, the three showcases illustrated, that under practical conditions, more factors than FPA temperature may need to be corrected for. In conclusion, this study shows that thermal data acquisition by means of an analog, uncooled thermal camera may represent a possible, cost-efficient method for the detection of crop stress, but appropriate corrections of disturbing factors are required in order to obtain sufficient accuracy.

ebba kvadrat

Divisjon for matproduksjon og samfunn

JordbærSmak


Jordbær er en viktig bærart med lange tradisjoner i Norge. De norske bærene har en høy status blant forbrukerne. Klimaet i Norge ligger til rette for dyrking av jordbær med god smak, men sesongen er kort og forbrukernes ønske om tilgang på jordbær hele året har ført til en kraftig importøkning de siste årene. Om norske jordbær skal konkurrere med importerte bær i vekstsesongen og beholde sin høye status, er det viktig å ha fokus på smak og kvalitet.

Active Updated: 13.09.2023
End: des 2026
Start: jan 2023
Schematic illustration-SinoGrain III 050523

Divisjon for bioteknologi og plantehelse

Sinograin III: Smart agricultural technology and waste-made biochar for food security, reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, and bio-and circular economy


The Sinograin III project’s overall objective is to contribute to the UN SDGs by widely implementing precision agriculture technologies and application of “waste-to-value” biochar products to achieve sustainable food production with minimized GHG emission, improve soil fertility and promote green growth/zero waste in modern agriculture in China.

Active Updated: 31.01.2024
End: okt 2027
Start: sep 2023