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Variable Rate Nitrogen

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Using remote sensing technology, variation in crop canopy development can be identified, inspected and then managed using variable rate applications of nitrogen.

Variable Rate Nitrogen allows you to:

> Optimise nitrogen rates

> Increase yield

> Improve crop performance

> Reduce lodging

> Reduce disease pressure

> Reduce crop variation at harvest

> Reduce variation in grain quality

Nitrogen has a larger effect on crop growth, yield and quality than any other nutrient. Whilst increasing nitrogen application can boost yields up to a point, using too much nitrogen is financially wasteful as it leads to an increase in problems such as lodging and disease which will ultimately reduce yield. Excessive use of nitrogen can also increase the risk of nutrients leaching from the soil.

One way to measure nitrogen requirement is to assess the canopy of the growing crop.  We use optical sensors mounted on satellites to measure crop canopy variation throughout the growing season. Variable rate nitrogen application maps are produced which allow optimisation of nitrogen rates based on the information acquired. Variable rate nitrogen is widely used on winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, winter barley and oats.

The service is web-based and each customer has their own private account. This allows you to log on and view all imagery of your farm throughout the growing season. You have the option to create your own application files online - giving you full control over your nitrogen practices. However, if you prefer, the SOYL team are on hand throughout the season to create application files for you and to provide support in using the service.

Why Use Variable Rate Nitrogen?

SOYL Variable Rate Nitrogen is based on original research from the HGCA which showed a benefit of £27/ha over uniform application of nitrogen. SOYL has run extensive  trials over the past six years, showing an average yield benefit of between 3 and 8% over the farmer's best practice.

SOYL Variable Rate Nitrogen supports all common brands of spreaders and sprayers and can provide application maps in formats compatible with any GPS system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Based on acquisition achieved in all spring season since 2010 you can expect to receive an average of 14 images of your farm throughout the growing season.
The satellites cannot take a reading through cloud; therefore, if the weather is overcast a clear image may not be taken. Intense satellite planning is performed in the SOYL office to ensure that acquisition happens both in areas with the clearest weather forecasts and in areas not covered by recent imagery.
Yes, if your sprayer controller has a GPS function.
No, SOYLsense is a service – we can either walk you through the website or we can do everything in office for you and e-mail out the files.
The SOYLsense team is on hand to create application maps seven days a week from early morning to early evening during peak season. We ask for two days notice for application file production (to help manage our workload) but if you are unable to give this, we do have a very rapid turn around so are able to send you at least one field to get you started within one hour of the request.
No, the satellite images and Leaf Area Index maps are very useful in managing your crops through the season and can be used to assist whole farm management decisions as well as manual adjustment to nitrogen applications.

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