Field operations require the use of heavy vehicles and equipment on unpaved agricultural fields. When soil conditions are wet, equipment can cause substantial damage, leaving deep furrows.
equipment can cause substantial damage In extreme cases, implements can sink and become stuck in the mud, causing considerable delays and expenses to extricate the equipment. Farm managers and machinery operators, who are often not located close to the fields, cannot assess the fields before allocating equipment and inputs, causing considerable difficulty in assessing conditions of countless sites in a reliable way. It is a common practice that farmers have to drive tens of kilometers each day to assess the overall status of various tracts of their fields. Such an approach is labour intensive and can be inaccurate because of the quality of observations made from the road.
For instance, the surface of the field may be dry, but still very wet underneath. Also, parts of the field, particularly low spots, may not be visible from the road. Thus, equipment and material may be dispatched to fields that are not ready for field work. Additionally, saturated soils result in fields that cannot be accessed or worked, resulting in delayed seeding and lost cropping opportunities.
delayed seeding and lost cropping opportunitiesThe problem is most likely to arise when high soil moisture levels in the fall are followed by heavy spring rains or rapid snowmelt. In wet soils seeds may germinate poorly and plant root systems may be stunted, leading to the possibility of inadequate nutrient uptake.
Similarly, plants that develop shallow root systems due to excess spring moisture will be unable to extract deeper soil water if conditions are dry later in the growing season. Needless to say that soil compaction can be associated with a majority of field operations that are often performed when soils are wet and more susceptible to compaction. Heavy equipment and tillage implements can cause damage to the soil structure. Soil structure is important because it determines the ability of a soil to hold and conduct water, nutrients, and air necessary for plant root activity. The economic impact soil compaction and its effects on yield depend soil types, crop rotations, and weather conditions.
These yield losses can range from 9-30% annuallyMany studies have indicated the yield loss that can cause the passes of heavy machinery in compacted soils. These yield losses can range from 9-30% annually.
Smart farming with waylay platform
There are two ways to solve the problem with field readiness. One approach is the use of soil moisture models that can provide a prediction of the regions that are ready for an operation, but these models are not accurate in practice, especially taken into consideration the great variability that occurs in the field. Another way of assessing the moisture content of a field is by using wirelessly transmitted data from in-situ soil moisture sensors.
In collaboration with Aarhus University and University of Athens, we have developed set of sensors and templates in that serve as an indicator system to support the decision of when and where a certain operation should be scheduled in order to be most productive and cause minimum damage to the soil.
indicator system to support the decision of when and where a certain operation should be scheduled
The readiness of a field can be broken down into Trafficability and Workability. Trafficability is the ability of the soil to support a given tractor and implement for an operation, without causing substantial or irreversible damage to the soil structure. Workability is the ability of the soil and crop to be in a state that it is suitable for given operation to work on it and produce quantitative and qualitative results while limiting any damage to the soil or crop.
Based on the current research activities, we provide the modelling capability for predicting field readiness based on input data for soil characteristics, soil moisture level based on the soil moisture sensors in the field and accurate weather forecast. This solution has a great influence in the organic farming due to many field operations especially for mechanical weeding, as chemical herbicides are forbidden.