Project Summaries

12-335NC  Project Manager: E. M. Barnes


Gary T. Roberson, Scott A. Hale, and Charles A. Collins, North Carolina State University

The current research is intended to assess the most effective way to utilize the spectrum of precision agriculture technologies for cotton production. Emphasis is on sensors, variable rate application, and automatic steering.

The research emphasis was utilizing the crop sensors for variable rate application of nitrogen, plant growth regulator, and defoliant. For 2012, the sensor based variable rate application of nitrogen was applied across the entire field, with the exception of two high nitrogen strips. Layby nitrogen was successfully applied using sensor based variable rate application.

Plant growth regulator was applied in two stages. An initial uniform treatment was applied across the entire field. This was followed by a variable rate treatment plan for plant growth regulator. Fixed rate was based on normal label recommendations for field conditions. The variable rate treatment was design such that the maximum treatment was equal to the fixed rate application, while the minimum treatment would be no less than 75% of the fixed rate treatment. A custom algorithm was developed for use in the control system to manage the PGR application.

A similar treatment scheme was applied for defoliant. Recognizing that coverage is important for defoliation treatment, the lower rate of defoliant was used for areas where the sensors indicated less developed or areas of smaller plant growth. For the defoliant application, each of the PGR treatments above was divided into fixed and variable defoliant treatments. The sensor based variable rate system was used to apply the defoliant. Once again, a custom algorithm was developed for defoliant application.

Yield data were collected with an Ag Leader PF Advantage cotton yield monitor. Sensors were mounted on all chutes on the picker to insure good quality data. The yield monitor was calibrated at the beginning of the harvest using the standard calibration procedure provided by Ag Leader, Inc. Calibration results indicated acceptable accuracy in the yield monitor. Gin weights were also obtained to confirm average yield data for the field.

Variable rate application of plant growth regulator and defoliant can be successfully achieved. It remains to determine if the approach is cost effective. In particular, the custom algorithms used to make the plant growth regulator and defoliant applications need to be examined more closely. Analysis of yield data is underway; results are not available at this time. However, a preliminary inspection of the yield map suggests there may be some treatment influences which will warrant further examination.


Project Year: 2012

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