Satellite field images could save nitrogen waste by 40%

A Swedish company has launched a satellite-based system that is designed to reduce nitrogen waste in farming by up to 40%.

It focuses on the over-fertilisation of crops by analysing the satellite images of farmers’ fields and providing them with detailed and up-to-date nitrogen prescriptions.

Vultus – the firm that has developed the technology – estimates that blanket field spreading sees as much as 60% of nitrogen fertiliser going to waste, which has obvious implications for the crops and the health of the surrounding environment.

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Analysing the images allows the company to identify the different conditions and nutrient needs within them, providing farmers with easy-to-follow nitrogen recommendations.

The plant health analysis, including satellite images and fertiliser prescriptions, costs €5 (£4.40) a hectare a year as a seasonal subscription.

If the recommendations reach the ambitious-sounding target of slashing nitrogen usage by 40%, then the savings over 250ha could be up to €15,000 (£13,195) annually.