LEAF AREA Index (LAI) maps could help growers save on nitrogen fertiliser inputs by better targeting applications, say experts.

A new service uses satellite imagery to highlight in-field variation in LAI – a measure of canopy development – and can be used to vary fertiliser use, explained SOYL‘s Simon Griffin.

“Backward areas below the optimum LAI will get increased fertiliser to boost canopy development and yield and those areas ahead of the optimum LAI will have N fertiliser rates cut back.”

Results from trials suggest savings of up to £15/ha could be achieved from using the service, he noted.

“At £6/ha for three images, aimed to coincide with up to three N applications, it allows customers to benefit from variable N management,” said the firm‘s Simon Parrington.

Being able to map variations in LAI and respond to them will be key to meeting economic and environmental objectives, added Andrew Pick, who farms 400ha near Banbury, Oxon.

For the latest in precision farming, together with working demonstrations, visit the Precision Farming 2005 event on March 9 at Newark Showground, Notts.

Further details are available from www.farm-smart.co.uk/precision/