An EU-funded project managed by the REA, Optifert, received yesterday in Hanover, Germany, one of the 33 'silver medals' awarded this year by Deutsche Landwirtschafts Gesellschaft (DLG), the German Agricultural Society, in the framework of Agritechnia, the world's leading exhibition for agricultural machinery. The new technology developed by the project determines the amount and type of fertilisers crops need in less than 10 minutes and on the spot.
The prize, awarded by a pool of independent experts appointed by DLG, recognises the operational reliability of a soil nutrient sensor developed by the Optifert team.
Award ceremony venue and Optifert representatives holding the 'silver medal' award © Optifert Team
The goal is to maximise yield by optimising the required nutrient doses at any time, considering both weather conditions and crop growth stages, without external laboratory costs.
The consortium has also developed a dosing unit, still at a pre-industrial scale, which could potentially be coupled with standard irrigation systems, adapting the dose of fertilisers not only to the required amount of nutrients for each crop period but also to the frequency of the ideal irrigation rate required by the farmers.
Optifert soil nutrient sensor © Martin Smolka
Three prototypes have been successfully tested so far in a corn field in Branderburg, Germany, this year.
Tractor fertilising an agricultural field © iStock
The Optifert team, supported by an EU grant for research of almost €1.5 million, is made up of four research partners and five industrial partners, and is expected to complete its work by the end of the month.
The project has been already featured on EuroNews.