More viable pastures with optimized phosphate fertilization in Portugal

The good examples section at AGROHUB.BG introduces you to one of the numerous projects presented at the Agri Innovation Summit 2017. It is the Portuguese Operational Group and is dedicated to increasing the viability of pastures by optimizing phosphate fertilization.

Their representatives will take part in the practical part of the High-Level Forum on Digital Agriculture “Together for Strong Digital Agriculture” to be held from 18 to 20 April 2018 under the program of the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency. Organizers of the event are the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Institute for Agro-Science and Innovation, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

The vast majority of pastures in Portugal are grassed areas with poor and eroded soils. Some farmers invest in improving and fertilizing grasslands by sowing different crops and turning them into grassland with enriched biodiversity. At the same time, however, their economic viability is threatened by the production costs associated with phosphate fertilization.

In response to solving these problems, a project of the Operative Innovation Group “Improving the viability of pastures by optimizing phosphate fertilization” is being implemented. Project partners are the University of Evora, the Higher Institute of Agronomy in Portugal and the Association for Breeding of Local Breeds in Cattle Breeding. The implementation of the project starts in May 2017 and will last until until December 2021 with a budget of 503,033 euros.

The goals set by the Task Force are related to the optimization of the use of fertilizers in pastures by using sensory, remote monitoring of the data to assess the nutritional needs of pastures and the use of variable speed technology for fertilizer spreading.

Among the expected results of the implementation of the project are the elaboration of a technological method for obtaining high resolution maps, including prescriptions for phosphate fertilization. They will serve to optimize pasture productivity and reduce production costs. On this basis, a service will be developed to improve the economic viability of pastures to be provided to farmers.

Since the launch of the Task Force project, activities have been carried out to select experimental plots and receive satellite data. For 3D field models, soil measurements are made with three types of sensors – optical, capacitance sensors and electrical conductivity. Soil and plant samples to be analyzed are also made. The project activities will be filmed with the drone demonstration fields to obtain a broad-spectrum image and linking them to the results obtained from the soil and plant sample analysis.

The publication is based on EIP – AGRI materials

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