Precision Agriculture Set Reduces Maize Nitrogen Fertilizer Costs

- Apr 11, 2018-

Precision Agriculture Set Reduces Maize 

Nitrogen Fertilizer Costs

According to the analysis of DJI and the largest agricultural data in the United States, UAVs carrying visible light cameras and near-infrared cameras can acquire a variety of growth data in the corn field, and accurately locate the fields that need topdressing nitrogen fertilizer.

Advanced drone technology can provide farm managers with decision support for farmland management and greatly increase corn production.

Topdressing nitrogen fertilizer is one of the important means to increase corn yield, but how to determine the specific amount of fertilizer? According to the previous process (see the figure below), we must first refer to the previous year's dosage (according to the crop breakage rate adjustment), but also take a variety of methods to take samples, including manual inspection, soil sampling and plant tissue sampling.

Precision Agriculture Set Reduces Maize Nitrogen Fertilizer Costs

The above methods are time consuming, have low accuracy, and cannot be quickly and accurately located on fertilization sites, so farm managers typically apply nitrogen indifferently to all fields.

The price of corn in the market fluctuates greatly, reaching US$8.00 per bushel in July 2012 and falling to US$3.05 per bushel in August 2016. According to different target production, the price of nitrogen fertilizer can be as high as 40-60 US dollars / acre *.

*1 USD/bushel approximately 39 USD/ton, 1 bushel/acre approximately 4 kg/mu

With volatile prices and unpredictable weather, farmers need accurate data to maximize target production within a given budget.


From 2016, farm managers in the Midwestern United States began using precision agriculture packages to accurately determine the amount of nitrogen fertilizers that need to be applied.

The TF-P20 is equipped with one each of a visible light camera and a near-infrared camera for easy access to aerial data. DataMapper and the software platform support aerial surveying and can quickly analyze aerial data.

In just 45 minutes, the TF-P20 can complete the 320-acre field at 400 feet. The captured aerial images will be uploaded to DataMapper and automatically synthesized as an orthographic 2D image of the entire field.

After the farm manager obtains the image map, he can use the GDVI algorithm on DataMapper to estimate the nitrogen deficiency in the whole corn field. As shown in the figure below, areas with high nitrogen deficiency are highlighted in red.

Precision agriculture measures plant nitrogen deficiency

DataMapper Standard software uses the GDVI algorithm to identify regions 

with high nitrogen deficiency (red in the above image)

Through DataMapper, farm managers can directly upload farmland remote sensing results to other farmland management platforms to achieve accurate fertilization in different farmland areas. In this way, the overall flow of precision fertilization has been optimized from the acquisition of crop growth data.

In order to determine the degree of nitrogen deficiency in maize and accurately locate the topdressing site, in mid-July, the responsible team and farm managers used the TF-P20 flight platform to carry a near-infrared camera capable of recording blue, green, and near-infrared wavelengths.

Precision Agriculture Aircraft Package

TF-P20 Package