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A New Methodology for Mapping Fertilizer Distribution

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  031123,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.13739) @2003
Authors:   Hensel, Oliver
Keywords:   Granular broadcast spreader, digital image processing, mapping, fertilizer distribution, ASAE standard S 341.2, precision farming

Application of mineral fertilizer is one of the most important measure in agricultural plant production whereby accuracy in distribution will influence success both in cultivation and economics. To evaluate the accuracy of spread granular fertilizer time costly evaluations have to be carried out by lining up trays to collect the fertilizer for weighing as described in ASAE standard S 341.2. Since such measurement can be done only in a consecutive way, no online data are available either for a closed-loop control of the machine nor for a data storage to fit in actual applied fertilizer dose into application maps. Therefore a new method for an automatic measuring system for spread granular fertilizer, based on digital image analysis was developed. Pictures of the soil surface set up with granules where analysed and fertilizer particles were optical distinguished from soil components by their specific differences in colour, shape an size. It was found that the rate of detection is influenced by the fertilizers nature and environmental factors such as light, condition of soil and disturbing vegetation. While on clod free soil without biomass a detection rate of close to 100 % of the fertilizer particles was found, mulch and vegetation decreased the accuracy. As a practical use of the system a mapping device assembled to an ATV equipped with GPS and the image processing system is presented which enables to fit in data of the actual distributed fertilizer into application maps without time shift.

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