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Photo: ATB

Knowledge-based precision crop production in mixed farm - DigiMix launched

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Precision crop farming saves resources, is environmentally friendly and efficient?! At least in theory. In practice, evidence to support this benefit is lacking. In the recently launched DigiMix project, researchers are evaluating the systematic use of precision crop management techniques in a practical farm in order to make their potential usable for farmers.

Farmers often use isolated technical solutions for precision crop production, i.e. as stand-alone solutions. They lack practical experience in the systematic use of precision farming techniques. At the same time, they lack the possibility to obtain independent, region-specific advice and training and to test techniques on suitable areas. Researchers are thus almost unable to collect data that can be used to assess the benefits of the systematic use of precision farming techniques. This is where DigiMix-PA comes in.

In the project, which started in December 2022, researchers from the ATB, the TU Berlin, the University of Potsdam and the Helmholtz GFZ are working together to test, research and demonstrate an end-to-end digitalised supply chain. To achieve this, they are implementing knowledge-based and site-specific crop production alongside existing animal farming on a mixed farm in Brandenburg. In the first step, they map the soil based on its properties and divide it into small plots in order to fertilise it with both mineral and organic fertiliser according to precise needs. Using a network of sensors the researchers have developed, they determine the influence of fertilisation on soil fertility, plant growth and emissions, among other things. Their goal: a comparative, economic and ecological evaluation of the precise techniques in practice. With these data, they want to prove the benefits of precision crop farming and optimise procedures.

In order to promote the transfer of the techniques into practice, they also want to create analogue and digital training methods and promote competence building among practitioners. For this reason, they are implementing the project at the Leibniz Innovation Farm, which links research and practice as a model farm and living lab on the land of a real farm, the Teaching and Research Station for Animal Breeding and Husbandry e.V. (LVAT).

Contact:  Prof. Cornelia Weltzien 

DigiMix-PA is funded for around 3 years by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food within the Funding Guideline Future Farms and Future Regions with a total of 2.9 million euros and coordinated by the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy. The project aims to create the technical and organisational conditions for the practical implementation of knowledge-based precision crop farming in a mixed farm in Brandenburg, Germany. Using the example of precise, coordinated organic and mineral fertilisation, the aim is to raise considerable, so far unused potential for increasing environmental and climate efficiency in conventional agriculture.