University of Wageningen researcher Corné Kempenaar and his colleagues at the Department of Agro Systems Research conducted a study to assess the cost benefit of adopting five variable rate application (VRA) technologies in potato production, writes Melanie Epp, contributing writer for Spudman magazine in the US.
Results, which were published in Potato Research last year, show that VRA technologies do pay off under practical conditions in The Netherlands. The five VRA technologies that produced the most rewarding results were planting, soil herbicide weed control, nitrogen side dressing, late blight control and haulm killing.
Although the researchers analyzed 13 potential technologies, they ended up selecting just five, which they selected based on proof of concept and on-farm test results. Each of the five VRAs uses spatial data in the form of either soil maps or biomass index maps.
The first two VRAs, planting and soil herbicide weed control, involved the use of soil maps, which were used in combination with other information to create a variable rate map. The other three used crop biomass index maps, also in combination with other information to make a task map.