[ASC-media] Media release: spoon-fed crops

JCA Media jcamedia at starclass.com.au
Wed Aug 11 07:46:35 EST 2004

Sir Mark Oliphant Conferences 2004 Media release

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Much of the world's precious nitrogen fertilizer goes to waste - causing water pollution, economic losses, needless greenhouse emissions and lower food production.

Now a smart sensor developed by US scientists could help the farmer 'spoon feed' exactly what the growing crop needs - when it needs it.

A team led by Professor Jim Schepers of the US Department of Agriculture has been working on an active sensor that can 'read' the nitrogen needs of a growing crop from the healthiness of its foliage, enabling the farmer to fine-tune fertilizer applications and avoid wastage.

The active sensor works by day or night, shining light of various wavelengths - near infra-red, red, green or amber - and then reading how vigorous the crop is by the light it reflects. This data can be converted into nitrogen requirements.

The technology has been tested in wheat, barley, sugarbeet and grapes and even used to read the fertility status of bare soil from its colour.

Prof. Schepers will describe the technology and results of experiments with it at an international scientific conference in Melbourne today, Tuesday, August 10th, at 4pm.

The 2004 Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on Converging Technologies for Agriculture and Environment takes place between August 9-12 at the Duxton Hotel, 328 Flinders Street, Melbourne, and various research sites.

More information:
Prof. Jim Schepers, USDA

At the conference:
c/- Duxton Hotel, Melbourne, 03 9250 1888
or Richard Gill, CRC for Microtechnology, 0417 477 244      richard.g at microtechnologycrc.com

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