Precision fertilisation technologies for berry plantation
¹Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Technology, 56 Kreutzwaldi Str., EE51006 Tartu, Estonia
²Saint Petersburg Mining University, Department of mechanical engineering, 2, 21st Line, RU199106 St Petersburg, Russia
Increased cost-effectiveness in crop production can be achieved by automating technological operations. This is also the case for berry cultivation in plantations. Starting any berry cultivation automation process should, quite naturally, begin with fertilisation, since this is the first technological operation to be carried out during the vegetation period and is a relatively simple one. The main task here is to apply the correct amount of fertiliser under the canopy of plants. Blueberry plantations that have been established on milled peat fields have plants that have been planted in parallel rows at a pre-designated interval. The fertilisation of plants must take place individually in the first years of their growth, so that each plant is fertilised separately. This form of fertilisation can be referred to as precision fertilisation. The aim of this paper was to provide an overview of the levels of technology now available when it comes to precision fertiliser equipment and to introduce the concept of a new precision-automated fertiliser unit, while also justifying the efficiency of using automated equipment. The automated fertiliser unit that is to be designed will be autonomous, will move unmanned through the plantation, and will include the necessary sub-systems for the precision fertilisation of individual plants, such as a plant detection system, a fertilising nozzle, a motion system and, additionally, a service station. On the basis of the results obtained, it can be argued that the use of an automated precision fertilisation unit increases productivity levels by approximately 2.25 times and decreases the specific fertiliser costs by approximately 8.4 times when compared with the use of a portable spot fertiliser.