Optimum N

Optimum N — Nitrogen sensing and management

Optimum N

Funding body

Lincoln Agritech Limited, Christchurch, New Zealand (source funding by New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

Overview of project and proposed outcomes

This programme will develop an automatic system, termed Optimum-N, that detects pasture nitrogen (N) requirements and then precisely controls fertiliser application based on a single N management setting that enables the farmer to responsibly balance productivity and N leaching. The project aims to integrate disparate measurements of pasture status to automatically generate an absolute nitrogen requirement prescription map, without human intervention. The project will introduce several innovations to allow the process to be automated: (i) use of machine vision to measure N-rich urine patches as controls in calibration of N application, (ii) use of machine vision to quantify grass-clover ratio, which will facilitate management of naturally-fixed N in clover as well as compensating for near infrared response (NIR) differences between the two species when measuring N, and (iii) combining five measurable pasture parameters to produce a nitrogen requirement index, ready for conversion to a fertiliser prescription map.

Project participants

Lincoln Ventures Limited, Massey University (NZ), University of New England, AgResearch Ltd (NZ), Lincoln University (NZ)

Key contact person details

Prof David Lamb, UNE-PARG 0428886088, dlamb@une.edu.au.