Intelligent fertilisation with N-Sensor improves crop yield

Intelligent fertilisation with N-Sensor improves crop yield
© Ewald Fröch, #81378840, 2019, source:
Waste, Carbon
Investment cost:
High cost
Payback time:
5 Year(s)
Resource saving:
Increases in nitrogen use efficiency have reduced the carbon footprint by 10-30 %
Investment cost:
24800€ / Price includes installation costs (or € 9 500-10 000 without installation costs)
Payback time:
For the 600-800 hectares fields, the payback time is calculated to be about 5 years

The timing and accuracy of fertilisation play an important role in the crop and the environment: excessive or inadequate fertilisation can ruin the whole crop. Yara has developed a precise cultivation technology (N-Sensor), which allows nitrogen fertilisation to be targeted according to plants’ needs.

N-Sensor is a meter mounted on a tractor roof which measures the amount and quality of the light reflected from plant leaves as the tractor is driving. Optimal fertilisation rates are calculated for the nitrogen requirement of the plant and its growth rate. The data is transferred to the fertiliser spreader, which regulates the amount dispensed.

The determination of the nitrogen content of the crop and the adjustment of the fertiliser application take place in real-time. The number of nitrogen fertilisers adapted to the actual needs of the crop in all parts of the field prevents over- or under-fertilisation. The more balanced growth achieved by proper fertilisation improves harvests, reduces the risk of losses, and associated costs.

The device is already in widespread use in Europe in the cultivation of grain, oil plants, potato, and corn. In Finland, it is currently mainly used for fertilising grain crops, but it also has other potential uses.

Farmers using the sensor have noted good crop growth and consistent quality:

  • Cereal yields increased by 3.5 % where the same intensity of fertiliser was used
  • Oilseed yields increased by 3.9 % through the Absolute-N calibration
  • Nitrogen savings of up to 14 % have been recorded where N-Sensor was used
  • Increases in nitrogen use efficiency have reduced the carbon footprint by 10-30 %
  • Combined performance was increased by 12-20 % 
  • When cultivation is more accurate, the loss is smaller and the cost is also reduced

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