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A system for improved fertiliser recommendations for arable and horticultural crops - NT1202

An important barrier to more efficient use of nitrogen fertiliser by arable farmers and horticultural growers is the lack of information on seasonal, soil-related and cultural variations in the supply of mineral nitrogen by the soil and the requirements for nutrients by the crop. This project will aim to develop a decision support system for fertiliser recommendations using a modular framework to link modules from SUNDIAL (an advanced dynamic model of nitrogen turnover in the soil/crop system) and modules from other published sources. The study will be composed of 5 specific objectives outlined as follows, together with ways in which they might be achieved: 1. Development of an appropriate interface between the user and the decision support system. Through existing links (Association of Independent Crop Consultants and the Department of Horticulture, Wye College), approximately 100 arable farms and horticultural enterprises will be targeted across a transect of the soils and climates in England and Wales. Consultation will establish a versatile and comprehensive system, targeted very specifically at the end-user; 2. Association of models in a modular framework with the decision support system. Modules from the current version of SUNDIAL will be linked into the modular framework of the decision support system. An economics module and additional management practices will be added subsequently; 3. Parameterisation and controlled testing of the framework. Parameters for any further crops and management practices will be obtained. Accuracy of the simulations will be tested and refined using experimental data from the literature; 4. Incorporation of a facility using field tests (such as chlorophyll meters and colorimetric tissue nitrate tests) to fine-tune the fertiliser regime during the growing season; and 5. Evaluation of the final product using on-farm testing and preparation of documentation. The resulting system will provide the following: fertiliser recommendations based on economic and environmental optima; advice on fertiliser management practices; guidelines for complying with the EC nitrate directive; graphical interpretation of possible profits; graphical visualisation of the results of simulations, provision of access to the science and technology underpinning the recommendation; and on-line model testing, allowing quantification of the accuracy of the model on a particular farm by the user employing previous years’ soil analyses.
To develop a decision support system for fertiliser recommendations using a modular framework to link modules from SUNDIAL. SUNDIAL is an advanced dynamic model of nitrogen turnover in the soil/crop system with a weekly description of the effects of different weather patterns, methods and timing of cultivation, soil and crop types.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1995

To: 1999

Cost: £445,170
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Rothamsted Research (BBSRC)
Fields of Study
Fertilisers and Nitrate Pollution