On 10 August 2018 the Ackerview precision farming system was used on Lindenhof Farm in Paarl to vary the dosage of nitrogen dominant 4:1:1 fertilizer spread in three peach and nectarine orchards. The farmer, Thomas Babl, marked the parts of the orchards that needed no additional fertilizer in green using the Ackerview web app. The areas that needed more fertilizer than average in his opinion were marked in red. The red areas received 40% more fertilizer per Ha than the rest of the block marked in yellow.
For two of the orchards he marked the areas manually using overlays of historical satellite imagery that showed the strong and weak areas of growth in the orchard well. For the other block he had a dataset that he collected last autumn. To collect the dataset he walked through the orchard and marked the strong, weak and average areas on the Ackerview smartphone app using the same green, yellow and red colour scale. Marking the 2,2Ha orchard only took him 45 minutes. The instruction map for this block could thus be automatically generated.
He reviewed this instruction map and applied some manual edits and deployed it, together with the two manually created instruction maps, to the Ackerview field device.
The turn of the seasons shows differences in health and vigour that we cannot observe during the winter and summer. It is very useful to be able to save observations and use them at a later stage
–Thomas Babl, Farmer
The field device was mounted on the quad bike towing the fertilizer spreader. The fertilizer spreader and quad bike setup is over a decade old, yet it could be used with the Ackerview system.
The driver, who was already used to working off an instruction sheet, was told to close the fertilizer chute when the device showed the green light, drive 10 km/h in the yellow areas and 7 km/h when the device’s red light was on. The execution of the displayed instructions worked reliably throughout the full day test.
One orchard showed a saving of 12% compared to fertilizing the whole orchard uniformly as it was in the yellow areas. In total the other two orchards received the same amount of fertilizer as they would have without using Ackerview, however the fertilizer was distributed in a more effective way.
Here I used the Ackerview system to avoid the negative effects of giving already very strong trees too much nitrogen and to give the struggling trees as much as they need. Without the system I would not have been able to relay these instructions to the operator.
–Thomas Babl, Farmer