A technology is being developed by Agri Optics New Zealand Ltd, (NZ Patent Application No 582798) using VIS/NIR sensors that has the ability to identify urine patches on grazed pasture and, through the use of liquid fertiliser, to avoid applying any further nutrient to the patch. The system is also capable of delivering a nitrification inhibitor to those identified patches.
Nitrogen leaching from dairy pasture is recognised as the number one environmental problem facing our dairy industry, and cow urine patches are the main culprit. This system offers a significant step forward by avoiding additional “wasted’ fertiliser inputs to those urine patches where no additional response will be gained, and by improving the utilisation of expensive nitrification inhibitors by applying them only to where they are needed. By moving to liquid fertiliser it also offers the opportunity for improved tactical use of nitrogen, again helping farmers improve their nitrogen use efficiency (NUE).
All dairy farmers in New Zealand are faced with the issue of nitrate leaching and therefore could all be impacted by this technology. New Zealand’s marketing interests overseas are closely tied to its environmental credentials. This system could be of tremendous assistance to marketing our NZ products overseas and assist in bolstering our clean green image through a technological approach that ensures we make more efficient use of our nutrients. As well as achieving industry environmental goals the system would also achieve cost reductions for farmers.
MAF-SFF Project L10/128 - First cuts
In 2010 the Precision Pastoral Nutrient Management Group was set up and gained funding through MAF-SFF to look at the viability of the Snmart-N Fertiliser Application system. For further information regarding this reseach programme check out the following link to
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