What is Variable-Rate Fertiliser spreading?
At present, most farmers apply fertilizer to their fields using uniform (or fixed) rate spreaders. Variable-rate fertilization (VRF), a more recent development, has become an important component in modern precision agriculture, as the nutrient requirements of crops can vary across any given field/location and can vary depending upon where in the growing season the fertilizer is being applied. VRF spreaders ensure that fertilizer is cost-effectively applied to match the needs of each plant, as well as to take into account any variable factors, such as variations in geography, crop and soil type. Most farmers over-apply fertilizer because of the fixed nature capabilities of their spreading equipment. Aside from the implication of cost-effectiveness, over-application leads to increased waste of inputs, soil degradation and decrease of crop quality, while under-application does not provide plants with sufficient nutrients, also resulting in decreased and low-quality yield.
Farmers of smaller scale crop farms (even if the crops are for livestock feed and therefore also livestock farms), from our research are not aware of the benefits of utilising variable rate spreading, to provide the farming benefits of cost savings and reduce ecological damage often caused by the excessive distribution of fertilisers. We have developed a smaller and cheaper VRS unit that will serve smaller farms of typically under 500 hectares.