The Technical University Braunschweig, the Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute and Julius Kühn Institute (all in Germany) were recently awarded the “DLG-Agrifuture Concept Winner” innovation prize. The concept they developed is a new cultivation principle, which gives the crop the leading role in the cultivation process.
The holistic spot-farming concept gives the individual plant the main role in the cultivation process. According to the inventors of this concept, the plant must be optimally cared for and kept healthy. Each individual plant must have the best possible access to light, water and nutrients, and cultivation robots must have access to the plants. To this end, plants are not sown close together, but in precise triangle formations.
In the project, the researchers take into account that there are differences in soil properties on a plot. That is why it works with plots that are accurately mapped out in advance. In this way productive and less productive areas are mapped and the latter areas can be excluded from cultivation and used for other crops that can cope better with them. This should then result in system where not just one crop is grown, but several crops can grow in parallel on a plot. Field robots then monitor the crop and can react at an early stage to irregularities during growth and make quick adjustments.
Areas within a plot that are less productive can be used to create flower strips, hedges or nesting mounds for wild bees. This way, natural resources can be used to save fertiliser and pesticides and increase biodiversity.