Expert opinion

last update:10 Jan 2019

New NPPL farmers role models for precision farming

The Dutch National Experimental Ground for Precision Farming (NPPL) has selected 10 new farmers.

The second year of The Dutch National Experimental Ground for Precision Farming (NPPL) project started on the last day of November. 10 new participants have been selected and they will start in 2019. This brings the total to 16 farming businesses. In addition to the 6 arable farmers who started with precision farming in 2018, 3 dairy farmers, 2 bulb growers, 4 arable farmers and an open ground cropper participate in next year’s edition.

NPPL helps farmers and growers with precision farming

I wrote about this project before. What does it entail again? NPPL helps farmers and growers with precision farming. The goal of the project, which will take 4 years, is to help farmers and growers to achieve more return on investment, to lower environmental impact and to increase food safety. Wageningen experts will help the farmers to implement precision farming techniques in their companies. Meanwhile, there are plans to start a similar project in the United Kingdom.

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NPPL helps farmers and growers with precision farming. The goal of the project, which will take 4 years, is to help farmers and growers to achieve more return on investment, to lower environmental impact and to increase food safety. - Photo: Peter Roek
NPPL helps farmers and growers with precision farming. The goal of the project, which will take 4 years, is to help farmers and growers to achieve more return on investment, to lower environmental impact and to increase food safety. - Photo: Peter Roek

The farmers will start with precision farming applications that are ready for practical use. Examples are site-specific dosage of fertilizer and pesticides, site-specific planting of potatoes, high-tech nest protection and custom watering.

Wageningen University & Research

NPPL started at the beginning of 2018 with 6 participants. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality finances the project, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) implements it. Their experts help the farmers by providing solutions for possible difficulties and by providing their knowledge, if needed.

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The new participants in the NPPL project for 2019. - Photo: Peter Roek
The new participants in the NPPL project for 2019. - Photo: Peter Roek

The 16 NPPL participants are role models. The idea is that the knowledge about precision farming applications will spread from their companies to others. Through publicity around the participants, the Ministry hopes that it is able to help all farmers with precision farming.

On the website www.proeftuinprecisielandbouw.nl, you can find news, photo and video reports about the project. Farmers and other interested persons can discuss and exchange knowledge in the private Facebook-group.

Farmers certainly see leads to improve with precision farming techniques

Last weeks, stock is taken at the first 6 arable farmers’ companies. The overall conclusions are that farmers certainly see leads to improve with precision farming techniques, that they want to continue next year, that there still are growing pains and that costs precede revenues. Nota bene, we’re speaking of the situation in the Netherlands, Northwest-Europe if you like.

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It has become clear that last summer’s extreme drought in this part of the world had a big effect on the crops. - Photo: Ruud Ploeg
It has become clear that last summer’s extreme drought in this part of the world had a big effect on the crops. - Photo: Ruud Ploeg

Extreme drought

It has also become clear that last summer’s extreme drought in this part of the world had a big effect on the crops. At the end of the year, that effect was larger than the yield effect of variable dosage of soil herbicides in onions.

Another conclusion is that the average dosage of soil herbicides and haulm stripping agents can be reduced without an adverse impact on the crops. This means that the first positive environmental result has already been achieved.

3 new sectors

Next year, 3 new sectors will join the project: dairy, bulbs and open ground. Their participation will also guarantee usable results, given their enthusiasm and eagerness last week at the kick-off meeting.

By the way: another positive result for entrepreneurs in primary agriculture, farmers, is that precision farming techniques are not yet fully formed, as opposed to what government officials like to think. The realisation of these government officials that precision farming is not a matter of plug and play is another gain.

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