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Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040048

Precision for Smallholder Farmers: A Small-Scale-Tailored Variable Rate Fertilizer Application Kit

1
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Carretera Mexico-Veracruz km. 45, El Batán, Texcoco C.P. 56237, Estado de Mexico, Mexico
2
CIMMYT Consultant, Ramon Turró 120, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 February 2018 / Revised: 13 March 2018 / Accepted: 20 March 2018 / Published: 24 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Precision Agriculture)
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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. View Full-Text
Keywords: precision agriculture; variable rate fertilizer application system; sustainable agriculture; NDVI; mechanization precision agriculture; variable rate fertilizer application system; sustainable agriculture; NDVI; mechanization
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Van Loon, J.; Speratti, A.B.; Govaerts, B. Precision for Smallholder Farmers: A Small-Scale-Tailored Variable Rate Fertilizer Application Kit. Agriculture 2018, 8, 48.

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