Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

To improve guidelines on waste management practices which will minimise the risk .. (Previously NT0301) - NT1402

Description
A significant barrier to more efficient use of nitrogen fertiliser by arable farmers and horticultural growers is the lack of information on the seasonal, soil-related and cultural variations in the supply of mineral nitrogen by the soil and the requirements for nutrients by the crop. In this project we propose to develop a decision support system for fertiliser recommendations using a modular framework to link modules from SUNDIAL (Branbury, et al., 1993. J.Agric.Sci.,Camb., 121:363-379) and from other published sources. 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 and soil and crop types. For common management practices, the information required to provide full scientific decision support is already represented in SUNDIAL in a clear and flexible way. For other management practices, the modular framework ensures that additional modules can be incorporated without the need for restructuring. An extra facility will allow simple diagnostic field tests to be used to "fine-tune" the fertiliser regime. A decision support system that exactly reflects the needs of the adviser, arable farmer and horticultural grower will be achieved by interacting with the end-user throughout product development in a staged project involving (1) development of an appropriate interface between user and the system; (2) association of models in a modular framework with the interface; (3) parameterisation and controlled testing; (4) addition of the facility to "fine-tune" the fertiliser regime; (5) final product testing and documentation. The resulting system will provide 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, providing access to the science and technology underpinning the recommendation; and on-line model testing, allowing the user to quantify the accuracy of the model on a particular farm or horticultural enterprise using previous years' soil analyses.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1995

To: 1997

Cost: £129,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
              
Fields of Study
Fertilisers and Nitrate Pollution